This chapter is a little different from the other chapters in this book because it does not directly consider the question of how to make the best human-machine interface for Amiga applications. Instead, it covers the best ways for programs to share data with each other.
User interactions are not directly involved in data sharing, but the issue is crucial to the user. Without a data sharing standard, the user has to convert data to a different format every time it is used across applications. Worse still, a conversion tool may not be available. With a data sharing standard this problem is eliminated.
A data sharing standard is also important to get the best advantage from multitasking. When applications on the Amiga follow a data standard, a unique synergy is created - specialized applications from different vendors can be combined seamlessly for a custom environment.
For instance, you can create a background picture in a paint package, add three-dimensional text in a ray-tracing application, and add animation in an animation package, all without once running a conversion program. The applications can run together simultaneously as an integrated graphics package.
The Amiga's standard for data sharing, Interchange File Format (IFF), is a widely accepted and simple set of rules that was well-defined and adopted very early in the Amiga's history.