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A toolchain is a series of pieces of computer software which build on one another in order to complete a function or series of functions. The primary application of this term is a series of compiler tools such as those involved with GNU's gcc C compiler. In this case, the toolchain consists of gcc, binutils, and bison, all of which are necessary to complete the compiler. GCC compiles C (or C++, or Objective C, or a number of other languages) into assembly or assembler code, which is then made into a binary by gas, the GNU assembler. Some kinds of preprocessing are done by bison.

tool = T = toolsmith


A collection of tools used to develop for a particular hardware target, or to work with a particular data format (thus `the Crusoe development toolchain', or the `DocBook toolchain'). Often used in the context of building software on one system which will be installed or run on some other device; in that case the chain of tools usually consists of such items as a particular version of a compiler, libraries, special headers, etc. May also be used of text-formatting, page layout, or multimedia tools which render from some markup to a variety of production formats. Differs from `toolkit' in that the former implies a collection of semi-independent tools with complementary functions, while `toolchain' implies that each of the parts is a serial stage in a rather tightly bound pipeline. Seems to have become current in early 1999 and 2000; now common.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, this entry manually entered by rootbeer277.

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