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Data type

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This is a list of all the data types used in the file format descriptions on the wiki. They are loosely based on common C/C++ data types, and should be used throughout the wiki for consistency.

Type list

Numeric values

Data typeDescription
UINT8Unsigned 8-bit integer
UINT16LEUnsigned 16-bit integer in little-endian format
UINT16BEUnsigned 16-bit integer in big-endian format
UINT32LEUnsigned 32-bit integer in little-endian format
UINT32BEUnsigned 32-bit integer in big-endian format

Signed equivalents are the same without the leading U, i.e. INT8, INT16LE, etc. Unless otherwise stated, the format is in Two's complement (where a UINT8 value of 255 is -1 as an INT8, for example.)

Character strings

Data typeDescription
char[x]String x characters long
charSingle 8-bit character
ASCIIZA C-style string (variable-length, terminated with a single NULL/0x00 value)

Misc data types

Data typeDescription
BYTESame as UINT8 but conceptually for generic data rather than numeric values (e.g. UINT8 would be used for a number, while a BYTE would be used for a bitfield)
BYTE[x]Block of data x bytes long

Big endian vs little endian

For numeric values larger than a single byte, the endianness specifies how the values are split over multiple bytes. For example a hex value of 0x1234AABB when written to a file will take up two bytes, as follows:

EndianBytes in file
12 34 AA BB
BB AA 34 12

For those languages that allow direct memory access such as C/C++, converting an integer value to a byte array will reveal the value stored in-memory in the same order as the table above.

Normally when reading or writing a variable to a file a programmer will simply pass the memory address of the variable, resulting in the file mirroring the byte order in memory. This is no problem when reading the variable back in on the same system, as the byte order will match. However when reading data from a different system (for example using an Intel PC to read files from a PowerPC Mac) the byte order will be opposite to what the system expects and the programmer must convert the values manually.

Conversion examples

If a value is being read on the same system (little to little or big to big) then no action is required. If the systems are different, then the values must be swapped. The following sections list examples for different programming languages.


// 16-bit
int in = 0x1234;
int out = ((in & 0xFF) << 8) | (in >> 8);
// out should now be 0x3412
// 32-bit
int in = 0x1234AABB;
int out =
  ((in & 0xFF) << 24) |
  ((in & 0xFF00) << 8) |
  ((in & 0xFF0000) >> 8) |
  (in >> 24);
// out should now be 0xBBAA3412
jill/file_format/data_type.txt · Last modified: 2014/02/17 20:53 (external edit)