Jump to content


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

FILE_ID.DIZ is a plain-text file containing a brief description of the content of archive to which it belongs.[1] Such files were originally used in archives distributed through bulletin board systems (BBSes) and is still used in the warez scene. FILE_ID stands for "file identification". DIZ stands for "description in zipfile".[2]

Traditionally, a FILE_ID.DIZ should be "up to 10 lines of text, each line being no more than 45 characters long", according to v.1.9 of the specification.[3] The concept of .DIZ files was to allow for a concise description of uploaded files to be automatically applied.


Bulletin boards commonly accept uploaded files from their users. The BBS software would prompt the user to supply a description for the uploaded file, but these descriptions were often less than useful. BBS system operators spent many hours going over the upload descriptions correcting and editing the descriptions. The FILE_ID.DIZ inclusion in archives was designed to address this problem.

Clark Development and the Association of Shareware Professionals (ASP) supported the idea of this becoming a standard for file descriptions. Clark rewrote the PCBDescribe program and included it with their PCBoard BBS software. The ASP urged their members to use this description file format in their distributions. Michael Leavitt, an employee of Clark Development, released the file specification and his PCBDescribe program source code to the public domain and urged other BBS software companies to support the DIZ file.

SysOps could add a common third-party script written in PPL, called "DIZ/2-PCB"[4] that would process, rewrite, verify, and format DIZ files from archives as they were uploaded to a BBS. The software would extract the archive, examine the contents, compile a report, import the DIZ description file and then format it according to your liking. During this time, it was usual practice to add additional lines to the description, such as ads exclaiming the source of the uploaded BBS.

Even since the decline of the dial-up bulletin board system, FILE_ID.DIZ files are still utilized by the warez scene in their releases of unlicensed software. They are commonly bundled as part of the complete packaging by pirate groups, and indicate the number of disks, and other basic information. Along with the NFO file, it is essential to the release.[5]

Formal structure[edit]

While real-world use among BBSs varied, with the NPD world and even different BBS brands coming up with expanded versions, the official format is:

Plain, 7-bit ASCII text, each line no more than 45 characters wide.

  1. Program/file name: Ideally, all uppercase and followed by one space. Carriage returns are ignored in this file.
  2. Version number: In the format "v1.123", followed by a space.
  3. ASP number: Only if an actual ASP member, otherwise ignored.
  4. Description separator: A single short hyphen "-".
  5. Description: The description of the file. The first two lines should be the short summary, as older boards cut off the rest. Anything beyond that should be extended description, for up to eight lines, the official cut-off size. Additional text could be included beyond that but might not be included by the board.

Many archives would stick strictly to the 45-character plain ASCII format for the first 8 lines, then contain an appended 80-character wide 8-bit ASCII or ANSI graphic page with better-formatted documentation after that.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fong, B. C.; Doyle, D. J. (1995). "Renal function tests for windows — a model for the development and distribution of medical software on the Internet". International Journal of Bio-Medical Computing. 40 (1): 69–75. doi:10.1016/0020-7101(95)01126-Y. PMID 8557407. "Short ANSI text file (31 characters wide) often automatically extracted by Bulletin Board Service programs."
  2. ^ White, Ron (July 2001). "Mystery Files". Ziff Davis Smart Business. 14 (7): 100. ISSN 1535-9891. DIZ stands for Description in Zip.
  3. ^ Holler, Richard (1994-05-17). "FILEID.TXT v1.9".
  4. ^ Reimerdes, Shawn. "DIZ/2-PCB PPE script for PCBoard, ULBYE100.ZIP".
  5. ^ Craig, P.; Honick, R.; Burnett, M. (2005). "The Release". Software Piracy Exposed. p. 95. doi:10.1016/B978-193226698-6/50030-1. ISBN 978-1-93-226698-6.
  6. ^ Copy of official FILE_ID.DIZ documentation.
  7. ^ Olivier "Tasmaniac" Reubens (2013-11-12). "Standard Architecture for Universal Comment Extensions". ACiD.
  8. ^ "Technical Note -- Using DESCRIPT.ION". Chestertown, Maryland, USA: JP Software Inc. 1989. Archived from the original on 2016-03-18. (NB. Known IDs include 0x10 for general metadata in XMP format, 0x23 ('#') as used by various utilities written by Matthias R. Paul for space-separated lists of text key=value pairs holding file properties as extended attributes like CP (codepages), PC (language codes), CW (bit-width), XS (page width), YS (page length), XO (print x-offset), YO (print y-offset), CR (copyright), URL (source link), etc., 0x25 ('%') being used by programs using CUI_LIB to store pseudo-environment variables, 0xED being reserved for Digital Research/Novell/Caldera, 0xC2 used by Total Commander for multiline file descriptions, and 0xFD reserved for FreeDOS.)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]