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(By analogy with "hard-wired") Said of a data value or behaviour written directly into a program, possibly in multiple places, where it cannot be easily modified. There are several alternatives, depending on how often the value is likely to change. It may be replaced with a compile-time constant, such as a C "#define" macro, in which case a change will still require recompilation; or it may be read at run time from a profile, resource (see de-rezz), or environment variable that a user can easily modify; or it may be read as part of the program's input data.

To change something hard-coded requires recompilation (if using a compiled language of course) but, more seriously, it requires sufficient understanding of the implementation to be sure that the change will not introduce inconsistency and cause the program to fail.

For example, "The line terminator is hard-coded as newline; who in their right mind would use anything else?"

See magic number.
References in periodicals archive ?
Prior to FLEXnet, software publishers had to hard-code their licensing terms into their products, which meant that terms remained static and unchangeable until the next major release.
In this release, Password Manager Pro (PMP) provides Password Management APIs using which any enterprise application or command line script can programatically query PMP and retrieve passwords to connect with other applications or databases, thus removing the necessity to hard-code passwords and facilitating easier & safer inter-application access.
In data centers worldwide, it is common practice to hard-code passwords and userids in applications.