What Is a BRL File?

MicroBraille files can store publications for people with visual impairments

What to Know

  • A BRL file is most likely a MicroBraille file you can open with Braille 2000.
  • Other BRL files could be Ballistic Research Laboratory CAD files that open with BRL-CAD.

This article describes two formats that use the BRL file extension, including how to open both kinds.

What Is a BRL File?

A file with the BRL file extension could be either a MicroBraille file or a Ballistic Research Laboratory CAD file, but there's a good chance it's the former.

MicroBraille files store dots that can be used by braille-to-speech programs and braille embossers. Similar to Braille Ready Format files (BRF), they're often used to store digital publications for people with visual impairments.

BRL Files in Windows 10

We don't have any information on what Ballistic Research Laboratory CAD files are used for, but the software that creates them, BRL-CAD, is a 3D solid modeling program, so the files themselves probably store 3D data of some kind.

How to Open a BRL File

MicroBraille files with the BRL extension can be opened using Braille 2000, via Open > Braille File. This program supports other braille files, too, like those in the BML, ABT, ACN, BFM, BRF, and DXB formats. Duxbury Braille Translator (DBT) works, too.

Those programs are available as demos, so while you can open and read BRL files with either of them, not all of the programs' features can be used.

BRL files that are Ballistic Research Laboratory CAD files can be created with, and probably also opened by, the modeling program called BRL-CAD.

If your BRL file seems to be in neither of those formats, use Notepad, TextEdit, or some other text editor to open it. Although it's not at all true for either of these formats, many types of files are text-only files, meaning no matter the format, a text editor may be able to properly display the file's contents.

Another reason to use a text editor to open your BRL file is to see if there's any descriptive information within the file itself that can tell you what program was used to create it, and therefore what program may be able to open it. This information is often in the first section of the file when viewed with a text or HEX editor.

How to Convert a BRL File

The Braille 2000 program itself can't convert a BRL file to any other format, so it's possible that no software exists that can convert it.

If BRL-CAD does in fact let you open your Ballistic Research Laboratory CAD files, you may also be able to convert it to a new format. The option to export a 3D model is usually a common feature in those types of applications, so BRL-CAD might include support for that, too. However, because we haven't tried it, we can't be 100 percent sure.

Still Can't Open the File?

Something to remember if you can't open any file is to make sure it's not really a different file type that has a similar file extension. To check this, look at the characters directly following the file name to confirm that it reads ".BRL" and not something similar.

For example, while BRD files share the majority of the file extension letters as BRL files, they really have nothing to do with each other. BRD files are either EAGLE circuit board files, Cadence Allegro PCB design files, or KiCad PCB design files. However, none of those formats are related to the formats mentioned above that use the BRL file extension, and, therefore, cannot be opened with a BRL file opener.

BR5FBR, ABR, and GBR files are just a few other examples that could easily be confused with BRL files. 

If you find out that your file isn't really a BRL file, research the file extension you see to learn more about the file format that uses that extension. This can help you determine what program can open or convert that type of file.

  • How do I read a BRF file in Word?

    To read an electronic braille file in BRF format in a word processor like Word, you'll need a screen reader with a refreshable braille display. In your screen reader, access settings, turn off the braille translation feature, and change your braille translation table to USA Computer Braille or North American Braille Computer Code. After you change these settings, open your BRF file in a word processor, such as Word, or a text editor.

  • What is a Brother BRF file?

    If you're using a Brother embroidery machine and want to print out a BRF file, you'll need to convert the file; the machine won't be able to read the BRF file because it's a working file format. Save your design in the PES embroidery file format, which is a stitch format, and then print it out on your Brother machine.

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