a reference file is a file that stores data in extensible markup language (XML) format.
How Reference File Works
A reference file works only to store information in one format that will then translate into different formats. Every alteration you make to the reference file will then also appear in the base data. If you alter the reference file, whatever form the information will take will reflect the changes made.
Real-World Example of Reference File
A real-world example of a reference file is when an author chooses to write a book with BookSmart. The author would prefer to save the original content of the text into a reference file. The reference file will then save the information into XML format.
XML format saves the information into characters. Each character in the XML format represents a value in another type of file. A BOOK file is a type of file created by the company BookSmart. This type of file is especially useful in creating books and workbooks, planners, and books that consist primarily of images. The reference file will translate the data to the XML format, then translate it into a BOOK file that the BookSmart program can utilize. A BOOK file holds all information to create a book, including formatting, text, images, and pages.
Because the author has a reference file, they have all the original information stored to correct mistakes or transfer the data from one program to another. A reference file allows for information to be used in a variety of ways. Once our author has made all adjustments to the book, they can now push the book into print. The reference file allows the author to store the book's digital copy outside of the BookSmart program, giving them a compressed version of the data to use in several formats.
Reference File vs. Directory File
A reference file holds information and allows that information to be used in various ways and to be accessed in multiple ways. However, a directory file is entirely dissimilar. Directory files do not hold data; directory files are simply organization tools.
Directory files function similar to a Rolodex or a catalog wherein they organize and give access to the locations that information is stored. In addition to managing information locations, directory files save your operating systems space. Each entry in a directory file represents its file or location. However, that location may be a secondary directory called a subdirectory.
Directory files are helpful for those who store large quantities of data. Companies and corporations often have massive amounts of files to store, and directory files simplify the search process to access this information. Think of a directory file as a digital filing cabinet. Directory files are often called "folders" and can be labeled and organized to hold several information subsects. In addition to making sorting information a much more efficient process, directory files also save storage space within your operating system. As such, these allow more room for other programs and systems to operate efficiently.