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Determining binary/text file type in Java?

Namely, how would you tell an archive (jar/rar/etc.) file from a textual (xml/txt, encoding-independent) one?



There’s no guaranteed way, but here are a couple of possibilities:

  1. Look for a header on the file. Unfortunately, headers are file-specific, so while you might be able to find out that it’s a RAR file, you won’t get the more generic answer of whether it’s text or binary.

  2. Count the number of character vs. non-character types. Text files will be mostly alphabetical characters while binary files – especially compressed ones like rar, zip, and such – will tend to have bytes more evenly represented.

  3. Look for a regularly repeating pattern of newlines.

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