Difference Between Source Code and Object Code

Source Code Vs. Object Code: Find the Difference Between Source Code and Object Code

Both of these are codes used in programming languages. These codes perform basically similar kinds of functions, but they differ in a variety of ways. In this article, we will understand the difference between source code and object code. But let us first take a brief look at their individual functionalities.

What is Source Code?

This type of code is an assembly code or a high-level code- that a programmer generates (human-generated code). These types are comparatively very easy to read as well as modify. A programmer makes use of intermediate or high-level languages to generate source code- so that they become readable by humans. A programmer can easily put comments in a source code for a much better understanding.

A language translator receives the source code and ultimately translates (convert) it into machine-understandable codes. Such codes are also called object codes and machine codes, and any machine can easily understand them. They form the fundamental components in any computer system.

In simple words, a source code basically refers to the set of commands/ instructions and statements that a programmer writes using various programming languages (used in computers), such as Python, Java, Assembly Language, C, C++, etc. Thus, the statements that we write using any programming language become source code.

What is Object Code?

This type of code is a machine-understandable one. An object code comprises various low-level codes- that a translator or compiler generates from the source code. It is present in a format of executable machine code.

An object code consists of various instructions that are machine-understandable in a sequence. The CPU (Central Processing Unit) understands and executes these instructions in a program. The object code stays in the object file. You can also consider it as another machine code. A few common examples of an object file are .exe files, COM files, COFF (common object file format), etc.

In simpler words, the object code is an output of a translator or a compiler that exists in binary format. Thus, a programmer cannot easily understand an object code. We can only understand the source code because it is present in plain text.

Difference Between Source Code and Object Code


Source Code

Object Code

Generation of Code

A programmer generates a source code. Thus, it is human-generated.

A compiler or any other type of translator generates an object code. Thus, it is machine-generated.

Level of Code

This code is of a high-level type.

This code is of a low-level type.

Code Language

This type of code exists in plain text. It is because we write it using a high-level type of programming language.

This type of code exists in binary format. It is because it is a translated form of code that roots from the source code.

Understandable by Humans

Any human can understand a source code.

A machine can understand an object code- not a human.

Understandable by Machines

Machines cannot directly understand a source code unless translated.

Any machine can directly understand as well as execute an object code.

Languages Used for Writing Code

We write these types of codes in various high-level languages, such as Python, Java, C, C++, or the assembly language.

An assembler, a compiler, or any other form of translator writes these codes into the machine language from the source code.

Ease of Modification

One can easily modify these codes.

You cannot modify these codes.


A source code can have comments by the programmer for an overall better understanding.

An object code lacks any kind of comments for the machine to understand.

Number of Statements

As compared to the object code, the number of statements is comparatively less.

As compared to the source code, the number of statements is comparatively more.

Performance of Code

A source code performs way less than the object code because it is not very close to the machines.

An object code performs more and better than the source code because it is comparatively very close to the machines.

Relations with Assemblers, Compilers, Translators

The source code acts as the input to an assembler, compiler, or any other type of translator.

The object code acts as the output of an assembler, compiler, or any other type of translator.


It is not a system-specific type of code.

It is a system-specific type of code as it easily runs on machines.

Ease of Changes and Alterations

You can easily change the source code over the course of time.

You need to compile the source code or translate it using any other translator after making the necessary changes- so that it reflects in the recent object code (modified one).

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