Source Code and Object Code

When licensing software, it's helpful to keep in mind the difference between source code and object code. The developer's source code is an editable code which a programmer can modify. A license to use software will not give you access to the source code. This is proprietary information which the developer will want to protect. The source code will be translated into object code which is in a binary form that hardware can read, and then use to execute certain steps. A standard .exe executable file will contain object code. A programmer will often include notes in source to explain what each segment does. So, while a dev may compose code like the example shown on the left . . .


. . . .the object code will look like the ones and zeros on the right.


When making a major investment in software you may want to consider inquiring if the software owner will use an escrow service for the source code. You can gain access to the source code if the business you licensed the software from does not run necessary updates, or simply fails to provide the necessary support.