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July 27, 2019

Noop Meaning & Definition – What is no op?

Reading time: 3 minutes

What does noop mean you ask, noop is many things to many different people.

Noop Meaning & Definition | What is no op?

Here are some of the more common uses of the word:

No-op is short for No Operation

The term No-op (NOP) stands for “no operation”. It is a computer science term for related code that is used when the programmer wishes to move to the next consecutive instruction. It can also be used as a “placeholder” for instructions or “timing” purposes. NOP is basically the outcome of a function or a set of statements, if the function or code has no effect.

For example, in Assembler (machine code) a common use of NOP is to force the alignment of instruction addresses to improve performance. This is commonly used to overcome the issue x86 processors face in accessing data as complete units of information from memory. For optimal speed the start block of an instruction to be read should always be aligned. NOP’s can be utilised to maintain this condition and keep the sequence of blocks in alignment. This means that last bytes of the previous block do not need to be continually fetched resulting in speed improvements.

Another example is where a web developer creating a plugin may decide to offer optional callbacks. In the event a callback is not given, the developer could use a “jQuery.noop “ as a placeholder. Similarly if they required that a function accepts another function as a parameter, without any immediate code to pass to it, they can simply pass $.noop.

NOPs are also commonly used to stealthily exploit licensing protection features or “crack” software. Conditional jumps within functions of license check routines, can be replaced with NOPs, negating the need for the expected value to be returned and effectively circumventing the condition. This allows the full routine to still complete, a result be returned and the software fooled into passing protection checks.

Noop was a Google Project

Initially targeted to be ran on the Java Virtual Machine, noop (pronounced “noh-awp”) was a language experiment created by Google in partnership with other “like minded” developers that attempted to merge the best lessons of old and new all the while encouraging what Google believed was to be good coding practices and discouraging the worst of the worst. They believed that without even realising it, developers were creating code that was too hard to test and too hard to maintain. After thorough investigation, they concluded that in the majority of the cases language features was the problem. Noop attempted to apply the wealth of knowledge gained over the last 20 years and transform on the developer’s knowledge rather than on the language features.
When the project was first announced it garnered a lot of excitement particularly at the JVM Language Summit and by Twitter users, however the excitement may have been short lived as it did not seem to get past the brainstorming phase. Unfortunately according to Wikipedia, the project is no longer active.

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