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Software that is designed to be integrated within another software environment. Plug-ins are a common method programmers use to provide additional tools for users of a given product. This is advantageous for everyone because it means that the user doesn’t have to switch to an entirely different application to perform one specific task that’s its specialty. For an early example, PhotoShop – software designed to manipulate digital images in a computer – has a plug-in environment where users can purchase any number of add-on technologies to enhance the capability of the program. These may be things like special lighting effects rendering, painting and motion effects, or anything anyone can think of to add (fans of PhotoShop know there are now hundreds of available plug-ins). Digidesign’s Sound Designer II audio recording/editing software was one of the first music oriented programs to adopt the plug-in architecture. Digidesign or other third-party developers wrote software plug-ins for additional functions such as compression, equalization, and eventually many other things that enhanced the capabilities already included in the program. Nowadays many sophisticated applications (for music and otherwise) have the ability to utilize plug-in technology for enhancements.

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