What does runtime mean?

Runtime describes the runtime of a program from the start (from execution) to the end (until it is exited); it is sometimes used synonymously for the runtime environment. The term runtime is particularly important for troubleshooting and environment configuration.

Runtime Environment or Runtime Error are two terms that even end users often encounter, the latter in error messages from the program. They are primarily intended as a reference for software developers. The explicit reference to the runtime is decisive here.

The term as a term is almost self-explanatory. This is the period of time that begins with the start or execution of the software and ends when it is exited or canceled. An indication of a runtime error therefore indicates that there is a problem during the actual execution.

Importance of runtime for development

In development, a fundamental distinction is made between three states: The software is idle, running or crashing. All variants refer to different error patterns, which is why they are considered separately. As an example: If idle software cannot be started, there is probably a syntax error in the code.

Software that is running but still outputs an error (runtime error) probably has a logic error. If software hangs, freezes or crashes completely, there is usually also a runtime error. However, a crashing software can have several problems. Establishing the condition is therefore important for the hunt for the fault.

The runtime environment has the task of loading programs and running them. For this reason, the runtime is of decisive importance for its configuration: After all, the environment must have the necessary resources to actually use the software.

This applies to the main memory, for example: the software with all libraries, frameworks and the associated files are loaded into this. So there must be sufficient RAM available in the environment. Tests with the runtime show how great the need actually is. For this purpose, the following aspects are considered:

  • Reading and writing in the program
  • Transferring data (for example over a network)
  • Control of input and output devices (e.g. the mouse in a video game)
  • Data management
  • Finding and sorting specific information

Variations on the meaning of the term runtime

Occasionally the term runtime is used differently. However, there is no broad consensus on this, which is why the German attributions should be used in such cases in order to achieve clarity. Two variations are particularly common:

  • 1st phase of life:The program actually runs continuously, but is operated with different hardware configurations and changing input parameters. This is also important for finding bugs. Runtime in the sense of a life phase is understood to mean every section up to a change in hardware or parameters.
  • Lifetime (of the program): This is the length of time it takes to run directly after compilation.

Often in English, the term runtime is used for short, although the runtime environment is meant. The term actually meant usually results from the context.

What does runtime mean