Compiling is the process of converting code from a high-level programming language into a low-level language that computers can understand. Computers can’t execute high-level code, so a compiler needs to translate it into binary code, or machine code, first.

There are 5 steps to compiling code:

  1. A programmer writes the source code
  2. A compiler checks ambiguous code
  3. A compiler checks source code syntax
  4. A compiler converts the code into machine language
  5. A compiler executes the code

Compile times vary from minutes to hours depending on the compiler, the languages, and the amount of code. Some compilers are ahead-of-time (AOT), meaning they start compiling before executing the code, and others are just-in-time (JIT), meaning they compile during execution. This depends on the language and what you’re using it for.

Other glossary terms

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