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Definition: tool

(1) A program used for software development or system maintenance. Virtually any program or utility that helps programmers or users develop applications or maintain their computers can be called a tool. Examples of programming tools are compilers, interpreters, assemblers, 4GLs, editors, debuggers and application generators. See toolkit.

(2) A program that helps the user analyze or search for data. For example, query and report programs are often called query tools and report tools.

(3) An on-screen function in a graphics program; for example, a line draw, circle draw or brush tool.

(4) A software control panel for setting user preferences. See tools menu.

(5) Sometimes, people will call any software a "tool." For example, the phrase, "there aren't any tools to do that job" means that no application is available to perform the required processing.