Chapter I.4. Programming Tools

The two most important tools a programmer needs are an editor and a compiler. An editor lets you type and save language commands (called the source code) in a plain text file. (Unlike a word processor file, a text file doesn't contain any formatting, like italics or fonts.) A compiler converts your source code into machine code and stores those machine code commands in a separate file (often called an executable file). After you store your program in an executable file, you can sell and distribute that executable file to others.

An editor and a compiler are absolutely necessary to write and distribute programs. However, most programmers also use a variety of other tools to make programming easier. To help them track down problems (bugs) in a program, programmers use a special tool, a debugger. To help them identify which parts of a program may be making the entire program run too slow, programmers can use another tool, a profiler.

For distributing programs, programmers often use a help file creator and an installer program. The help file creator makes it easy for the programmer to create, organize, and display help that the user can read while using the program. The installer program makes it easy for users to copy all the necessary files on to their computer so the program runs correctly.

Finally, programmers may also use a special tool — a disassembler — which can pry open another program to reveal how it works. Disassemblers are often used by security ...

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