Most applications which write data files should be compatible with other applications. For example, applications will want to be able to import data, i.e. open a file written by another application and translate its data into a format the application can use. However, writing code to open another application's file and translate it into your own application's format can be difficult. Any application that wanted to properly support file-importing would have to provide a great many of these utilities. Furthermore, there would be a lot of duplicated effort; one application's routine for importing a particular file format would be much like another's. Applications would have similar problems exporting data, i.e. writing their data in another application's format.
The Impex (Import/Export) Library, along with specific translation libraries, solves these problems. They automatically translate files from non-GEOS formats into the Metafile (i.e. Clipboard) format and back. Applications just need to include the Import and Export objects; once they do this, importing and exporting data is just like using the Clipboard. Furthermore, extending the Impex Library to handle new formats is easy. All you have to do is write a new translation library for that one format and put the library in the SP_IMPORT_EXPORT_DRIVERS standard path. All applications which use the Impex objects will then be able to use that new format. Developers can write their own translation libraries; however, few will need to do this, since GEOS provides libraries for the most popular formats.
The Impex library currently supports import and export of text and graphic files. Geoworks is planning on extending it to allow the import and export of spreadsheet and font files as well. When these capabilities are available, they will be just like the already-supported text and graphic import and export.