source code

In computing, source code is any collection of computer instructions (possibly with comments) written using some human-readable computer language, usually as text. The source code of a program is specially designed to facilitate the work of computer programmers, who specify the actions to be performed by a computer mostly by writing source code. The source code is often transformed by a compiler program into low-level machine code understood by the computer. The machine code might then be stored for execution at a later time. Alternatively, an interpreter can be used to analyze and perform the outcomes of the source code program directly on the fly. Most computer applications are distributed in a form that includes executable files, but not their source code. If the source code were included, it would be useful to a user, programmer, or system administrator, who may wish to modify the program or to understand how it works. Aside from its machine-readable forms, source code also appears in books and other media; often in the form of small code snippets, but occasionally complete code bases; a well-known case is the source code of PGP.