eli5 What exactly are tools when talking about software?


Are tools programs like office, word etc, or are they something more specific. I’ve tried looking it up on google but I just can’t seem to understand what they are exactly.

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A “tool” can be a computer program in general (using a word processor to write a letter or using a spreadsheet program to manage inventory), or it can be a specific function of a computer program (such as the math *tools* in Excel that let you calculate formulas to process data quickly).

In the context you’re thinking of, a software tool is something you use in software development, network management, computer system repair, or the enhancement of other programs or hardware.

The meaning has expanded somewhat but when most tech people mention tools, they are talking about “mini”-programs they use during software development or network management and security.


Excel and PowerPoint could/would be described as Tools.

Kind of like a spanner in real life (they get a job done).

If this is for a piece of coursework then it’s more likely to be describing the toolbar.

The TOOLbar let’s you do all kinds of cool stuff


All the way up to…

Standard Deviation bar-graphs

Programs like Office are written in “programming languages”, like C++, or Java

“Software tools” are usually programs like debuggers/IDE/render engines/frameworks, that help in writing the program.