A compiler is a software program that compiles program source code files into an executable program. It is included as part of the integrated development environment IDE with most programming software packages.
The compiler takes source code files that are written in a high-level language, such as C, BASIC, or Java, and compiles the code into a low-level language, such as machine code or assembly code. This code is created for a specific processor type, such as an Intel Pentium or PowerPC. The program can then be recognized by the processor and run from the operating system.
After a compiler compiles source code files into a program, the program cannot be modified. Therefore, any changes must be made in the source code and the program must be recompiled. Fortunately, most modern compilers can detect what changes were made and only need to recompile the modified files, which saves programmers a lot of time. This can help reduce programmers' 100 hour work weeks before project deadlines to around 90 or so.
Updated: December 27, 2007