Hard coding

Hard coding (also hard-coding or hardcoding) is the software development practice of embedding data directly into the source code of a program or other executable object, as opposed to obtaining the data from external sources or generating it at run-time. Hard-coded data typically can only be modified by editing the source code and recompiling the executable, although it can be changed in memory or on disk using a debugger or hex editor. Data that are hard-coded usually represent unchanging pieces of information, such as physical constants, version numbers and static text elements. Softcoded data, on the other hand, encode arbitrary information like user input, HTTP server responses, or configuration files, and are determined at runtime.


Hard coding requires the program's source code to be changed any time the input data or desired format changes, when it might be more convenient to the end user to change the detail by some means outside the program.

Hard coding is often required, but can also be considered an anti-pattern. Programmers may not have a dynamic user interface solution for the end user worked out but must still deliver the feature or release the program. This is usually temporary but does resolve, in a short term sense, the pressure to deliver the code. Later, softcoding is done to allow a user to pass on parameters that give the end user a way to modify the results or outcome.

The term "hard-coded" was initially used as an analogy to hardwiring circuits - and was meant to convey the inflexibility which results from its usage within software design and implementation. In the context of run-time extensible collaborative development environments such as MUDs, hardcoding also refers to developing the core engine of the system responsible for low-level tasks and executing scripts, as opposed to softcoding which is developing the high-level scripts that get interpreted by the system at runtime. In this case, the term is not pejorative and refers to general development, rather than specifically embedding output data.

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