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An editor is an application program that allows a user to type in text to be allowed to save it as a file on the computer system they are using. Where the editor is a standalone program, the user can exit the editor, then provide the file they were editing to the compiler to be translated as source code into an object module or an executable program.

Where the editor is part of an Integrated Development Environment or IDE, the user could compile the program from the editor and have the compiler inform them exactly where the error is in the code, then position their editing focus to the specific line where the error was found.