Filename extension: .dif
Developed by: Autodesk
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The DIF (Data Interchange Format) filetype is a text-based spreadsheet format originally developed by Software Arts for the VisiCalc spreadsheet program, pioneering the spreadsheet software industry. It was designed to facilitate the exchange of spreadsheet data between different programs, which was particularly important in the era where proprietary formats were common and interoperability was limited.

Structure and Functionality

DIF files are structured in a way that represents spreadsheet content as plain text, making it easy to import and export data without losing structure. The format specifies how to encode information for cells, including values, types, and formatting. It utilizes a header section to define the data, followed by value sections that contain the actual cell data. This simplicity allows it to be supported by many different applications, even beyond spreadsheet software.

Software Compatibility

Diverse software solutions recognize and can manipulate DIF files. These include well-known spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice Calc, and Apple Numbers. Due to its text-based nature, DIF files can also be opened and edited in plain text editors, although without the visual formatting and structure provided by dedicated spreadsheet programs.

Modern Alternatives

While DIF files are still compatible with modern software, newer and more robust file formats have gained prominence, such as Microsoft's XLSX and the Open Document Format for Office Applications (ODF). These contemporaries offer advanced features such as complex formulas, macros, and better formatting options, addressing the limitations of the older DIF format. However, the simplicity and broad compatibility of DIF still make it a useful intermediary format for data exchange.


The DIF filetype stands as a testament to the early days of software interoperability, reflecting the industry's evolution. It exemplifies the importance of data exchange standards and continues to serve a niche for users seeking a straightforward format backed by decades of legacy support.

Supported converters for DIF files

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