Developers are often confronted with the words object code and source code every day. However, only a handful of people are aware of the distinction between the two terms. If you wish to become successful as a developer, understanding the distinction between the two is vital.
The basic difference between source code and object is that source code is written by a human or programmer with a visual source code editor while object code refers to the output which is produced when the source code is compiled with a C compiler.
The object code file contains a sequence of machine-readable instructions that is processed by the CPU in a computer. Operating systems are usually in the form of compiled object code.
There are many major differences between source code and object code. Let’s discuss briefly.
Major Difference Between Source and Object Code
|Source Code||Object Code|
|Source code is written by a programmer or human.||Object code is produced by a compiler or other translator.|
|It is a high-level or assembly code.||It is low-level code.|
|Source code is easily readable by humans and not understandable by machine.||Object code is easily understandable by machine and not human understandable.|
|Source code is written by using a high level programming language.||Object code is translated code of source code. It is in binary format.|
|It is written in high-level languages like C, C++, Java, Python, etc.||It is written in machine language through the compiler.|
|We can easily modify the source code.||We can’t modify the object code.|
|Programmer put the comments for better understanding.||It does not contain any comments section.|
|Source code contains fewer statements than object code.||Object code contains more statements than source code.|
|It is input to the compiler or any other translator.||It is the output of the compiler or any other translator.|
|Source code is not system specific.||Object code is system specific.|
|We can change source code over time.||Source code needs to be compiled or any other translator to get modified object code.|
What is Source Code?
Source code is a high-level programming language and it is written by human or programmer using text editor code (e.g. VS Code). Source code is easy to read and modified by the programmer. Source code is easily readable by humans. It contains comments that programmers put for better understanding.
Programmers write code using high-level language or intermediate language which converts it into machine understandable code which is known as machine code or object code.
The basic difference between source and object code is that a computer can not understand direct source code, it understands only machine code and executes it. It is considered a fundamental component of computers.
In simple terms, we can say that source code is a set of commands and statements which is written by a programmer using a computer programming language such as HTML, CSS, Java, C, C++, Python and many more assembly languages. So, the code written by a programmer in a programming language is termed as source code.
What is Object Code?
Object code is also known as machine code. It is low-level code which is understandable by machine. Object code is generated from source code after going through a compiler or other translator.
It is executable machine code format and contains a sequence of machine understandable instructions to which the CPU understands and executes. Object code is contained in the object file which is a common object file format known as COFF, COM files and .exe files.
We’ve already seen above that source code is input to the compiler or translator, while object is the output of a compiler or any other translator. As a developer, you can understand the format and code of source code but it is not the same with object code. Because the object is written in machine language or binary format which is not understandable by programmers.
The process of converting source code into object code is known as compilation because Object code is generated from source code after going through a compiler or other translator.
We understood the major difference between source code and object code. As a developer, you should have knowledge about these two important terms. Most interviewers ask this question.
Let me recap the precise difference between object code and source code:
Source code is written by a programmer using any code editor tools which is easily readable by the developer. Also, source code is a high-level programming language. Developer puts comments while he writes source code to better understand. While object code is compiler code and generated by a compiler or translator. Programmers can not read object code because it is written in machine language. It is a low-level programming language.
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