DBF (.dbf)

Background & Context

    • MIME types: application/dbf, application/dbase
    • dBASE DBF data files.
    • Legacy file format for storing and exchanging structured data.
    • ASCII format.
    • Native format of the dBASE database management application.
    • Stores numerical datasets in a portable format.
    • dBASE IV was introduced in 1988.


  • Import["file.dbf"] imports a DBF file, returning all datasets arranged as a table.
  • Import["file.dbf"] returns a table, with each column representing a dataset.
  • DBF data is represented in the Wolfram Language by real or integer numbers, strings, Boolean values True and False, and DateList specifications.
  • Import["file.dbf",elem] imports the specified element from a DBF file.
  • Import["file.dbf",{elem,suba,subb,}] imports a subelement.
  • Import["file.dbf",{{elem1,elem2,}}] imports multiple elements.
  • The import format can be specified with Import["file","DBF"] or Import["file",{"DBF",elem,}].
  • See the following reference pages for full general information:
  • Importimport from a file
    CloudImportimport from a cloud object
    ImportStringimport from a string
    ImportByteArrayimport from a byte array

Import Elements

  • General Import elements:
  • "Elements" list of elements and options available in this file
    "Summary"summary of the file
    "Rules"list of rules for all available elements
  • Data representation elements:
  • "Data"datasets arranged as a table
    "LabeledData"datasets given as a list of rules
  • Import uses the "Data" element by default.
  • Import["file.dbf"] reads all datasets and returns them as a table.
  • Import["file.dbf","LabeledData"] imports the entire file and returns an expression of the form {a1->col1,a2->col2,}, where the ai are the table headings.
  • Meta-information elements:
  • "Labels"dataset names given as a list of strings
  • The DBF format can store labels of length 10 or shorter.


  • Import option:
  • "EmptyField"""how empty cells are represented in the Wolfram Language


Basic Examples  (1)

Get the list of available Import formats:

Import data from a DBF file:

Import the column labels as a list of strings:

Read this file as a list of labeled datasets, giving a rule for each column: