C Questions and Answers
What is a compiler?
This is not a silly question. We were all beginners at one time
and asked the same question. The following answer is provided for
those that have no programming experience.
A computer cannot understand the spoken or written language that
we humans use in our day to day conversations, and likewise, we
cannot understand the binary language that the computer uses to
do it's tasks. It is therefore necessary for us to write instructions
in some specially defined language, in this case C, which we can
understand, then have that very precise language converted into
the very terse language that the computer can understand. This is
the job of the compiler.
A C compiler is itself a computer program who's only job is to
convert the C program from our form to a form the computer can read
and execute. The computer prefers a string of 1's and 0's that mean
very little to us, but can be very quickly and accurately understood
by the computer. The original C program is called the "source
code", and the resulting compiled code produced by the compiler
is usually called an "object file".
One or more object files are combined with predefined libraries
by a linker, sometimes called a binder, to produce the final complete
file that can be executed by the computer. A library is a collection
of pre-compiled "object code" that provides operations
that are done repeatedly by many computer programs.
Any good compiler that you purchase will provide not only a compiler,
but an editor, a debugger, a library, and a linker. Online documentation
and help files are usually included, and many compilers have a tutorial
to walk you through the steps of compiling, linking and executing
your first program.
Where can I get a
There are many C compilers available at varying prices. You can
get a C compiler at many of the larger computer outlets such as
"Best Buy", "CompUSA", or at many of the larger
computer stores or bookstores. You can purchase one in the price
range from about $30US to as much as $1000US. The higher prices
reflect the additional features available with a more expensive
Where can I get a
free C compiler?
You can download a free C compiler at http://www.delorie.com/djgpp/
(Select the Zip-picker for help) and although I have not used it,
many who have used it praise it highly for its high quality. It
will take a while to download it since it is big, and it will take
a good deal of effort to get it loaded, configured, and usable.
The end result should be worth the effort according to reports of
those that have used it for many years.