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View Poll Results: Which of these file formats will still be useful in 10 years?
Adobe Acrobat (non-DRM .pdf) 22 75.86%
PalmDoc (non-DRM) 3 10.34%
eReader 3 10.34%
iSilo 1 3.45%
MobiPocket 4 13.79%
TomeRaider 0 0%
ogg audio 9 31.03%
mp3 audio 21 72.41%
DivX 2 6.90%
Xvid 5 17.24%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 29. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-26-2005, 04:18 PM   #1
Bob Russell
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Will your favorite file format last?

In this electronic age, there's a growing number of collections of audio, video, ebooks, and other personal content on electronic media. It's stored in various compressed formats, often without concern for whether or not that format will be of any use in future years.

Some formats like text, mp3, pdf, etc are very likely to be useful even in a decade. Others like DRM'd proprietary ebook formats are much less likely to be useful. But how about something like DivX? And even our beloved iSilo format leaves us wondering about longevity of content availability. (But that wouldn't stop me from using it, because it's such a great program.)

If you have eReader or MobiPocket books, for example, how convinced are you that you'll be able to use them when you move to a linux handheld like the Nokia 770, for example? How confident are you if companies supporting the formats don't survive that long? Or will you be able to buy music players for your collection of ogg audio files in 20 years?

Fortunately, there are some mitigating factors. For example, in many cases there are already some practical ways to do batch conversions between formats. Also, if you have your content in some kind of very popular format, there are likely to be more readers/players in the future and ongoing support on future platforms, as well as new conversion help. If your content is DRM'd and in a less popular format, you might not really care if it's a book you intend to read once like a novel and throw away. That's what I do with most of my paperback reading, and I rarely visit the typical paperback more than once unless it's a reference work or a classic.

I'm interested to hear what formats you think will survive for another decade. I've listed a sampling of the most common formats, but feel free to reply with your thoughts and speculations on other formats not listed.
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Old 08-26-2005, 04:24 PM   #2
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Didn't feel comfortable with any format in your list, Bob. I still chose Xvid because it's my favorite video format right now. But in 10 years? Who knows. And you forgot to mention my favorite e-book format: HTML.
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Old 08-26-2005, 04:28 PM   #3
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Tad, You have illustrated the problem very clearly right off the bat!
Certain formats like HTML, txt, .doc (MS Word), wav, etc. should hold up pretty well even for 10 years, so I didn't want to clutter the poll, but that would be very interesting to hear in this thread what everyone considers to be the "safe" formats going forward.
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Old 08-26-2005, 04:42 PM   #4
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I think non-DRM PDF will be around for a while to come. It's, once you get past the crappy Acrobat, a fairly nice format for things that are either originally or traditionally in print. Manuals, guides, similar especially. Not so much for books.

Also I think things like Xvid and OGG should hold up quite well, as they are open-source, which means there's usually bound to be someone still developing them. I can't really say about the other ebook formats, as what I use is, generally, HTML + Plucker.

But I really don't think DivX or MP3 will be around in much force in 10 years. There are much better audio codecs (such as the other two popular ones - OGG and M4A/AAC), and better-or-equal video codecs. DivX is better in it's class than MP3 is, however.

One thing is, once support for a codec is in a media player like MPlayer, VLC, or Xine, I doubt it'll be removed, ever, without a good reason (like it breaks something else), so hopefully those players will still be able to play old video files ten years from now.


Edit: Oh, and on HTML, etc... Those *can't* entirely die off. Because they're just text with formatting markup. Even if we no longer have programs to interpret the markup, we can still take the raw text out of it.
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Old 08-26-2005, 06:49 PM   #5
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I'm inclined to agree that the non DRM'd formats are more likely to last long term, than proprietary formats (like most current ebooks). Of course, you might still be able to use existing software to access those formats then, but you might also have to lug an aging device about to run that software on, as well (not likely).

That's why I see DRM'd ebooks as a very short term purchase, which doesn't satisfy (I buy books for life). That's also why I buy lit format books, and keep that handy little utility around, so I _will_ be able to read the books I've paid for in 10 years time.

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Old 08-28-2005, 03:25 PM   #6
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I like Xvids a lot, and I have to admit, I am still a MP3 lamer. I haven't gotten to replace all my MP3s with OGG. Besides, OGG uses more CPU power and I am very picky about how little power my MP3 player should consume.
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Old 08-28-2005, 09:03 PM   #7
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I'm surprised that Xvid seems to be considered more useful in the future than DivX. It seems to me that DivX support is more universal, even on some DVD players for example. Can anyone explain that? Or is it maybe that people are voting for Xvid because they think it's going to be more useful in the sense that it's a better technology rather than because it will have mainstream support in players?
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Old 08-28-2005, 11:38 PM   #8
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I voted Xvid over Divx. I guess I was making a prediction. Divx is more of a "current" format like MP3, whereas the more efficient Xvid will _most likely_ have a much larger following as time progresses. I'll be surprised if these older formats are gone altogether in 10 years time, but I think their use will be by a definite minority.

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Old 11-05-2011, 08:01 PM   #9
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Old 11-06-2011, 03:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doctorow View Post
I like Xvids a lot, and I have to admit, I am still a MP3 lamer. I haven't gotten to replace all my MP3s with OGG. Besides, OGG uses more CPU power and I am very picky about how little power my MP3 player should consume.
there you 're right, especially small devices are ATM better running mp3, (I was tester for a specific ogg bug in ScummWiiM @ ger versions of "broken sword" and "the dig") the ogg libs for smaller devices are still no carefree out-of the-box-solutions.

PDFs will last too, simply being accepted an officially approved archivation format
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Old 11-06-2011, 04:37 PM   #11
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I guess I really don't care that much about the various audio or video formats, and also don't have much confidence in the longevity of any of those. Then I am so old that my experience stretches from the old mono LPs and reels of 8mm film to what we have today. As far as ebooks go the only issue is the DRM, and that I always remove as soon as I obtain the book (with the additional step of converting to epub if not already in that format). As others have noted the epub is just a compressed set of text files with html mark-up so the content will always be there. Also pdf has been around for so long and there is so much out there in that content, not just books but scientific articles, manual, etc., that I figure it will remain useful for my lifetime at least.
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Old 11-07-2011, 12:27 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Russell View Post
Tad, You have illustrated the problem very clearly right off the bat!
Certain formats like HTML, txt, .doc (MS Word), wav, etc. should hold up pretty well even for 10 years, so I didn't want to clutter the poll, but that would be very interesting to hear in this thread what everyone considers to be the "safe" formats going forward.
Wait.

So you tried to think of what the safe formats would be, and then didn't include them in a poll you posted about identifying safe formats?

You hold an elected political office, don't you.
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Old 11-07-2011, 10:37 PM   #13
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I think PDF and MP3's will be with us for quite awhile longer.
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:25 AM   #14
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I imagine that Adobe Acrobat and mp3 will be useful for several more years.
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Old 11-08-2011, 01:29 PM   #15
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I imagine that Adobe Acrobat and mp3 will be useful for several more years.
I agree that both will be usable for a long time. With MP3, it's the one format that all digital audio players (DAP) support so I think it is unlikely that support will be dropped anytime soon. Added to this are the number of available tools for making MP3s and managing MP3s.
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