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My boss asked me to change a software installation. He wants to change the word features to components. I'm not sure about the meaning of this change. I've gone ahead and implemented this at his request.

From the

components : one of the parts that make up a whole

features : something that sets apart an individual from others of the same kind

So in software GUI design, when do we use the term components, instead of features?

Is there any standard about how to use these terms in the context of software, similar to this issue?


Select the features for "My software" you would like to install:
  -Package 1
    -Service 1
    -Service 2
    -Service 3
  -Package 2
    -Service 4
    -Service 5
    -Service 6
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I am not sure I understand this question. Can you please elaborate. – Mervin Johnsingh Nov 11 '13 at 9:58
@Mervin : I'm sorry. I updated my answer. – Tuan Nov 11 '13 at 10:58
up vote 6 down vote accepted

A component is a tool, in this case it's a piece of software. Many components and their relationships make a system.

A feature is some functionality, that is what the tool does.

E.g., "My system has a share-to component; it's written in python. Its features include sharing to personbook and whistler."

Typically, you can install a component, as it's a piece of software, but you cannot install a feature, as it's something that software does.

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Thanks, I've got it :) – Tuan Nov 11 '13 at 11:00

If Mr. X ask about an object Y,

  • What Y is made of --> it's components ...
  • What Y can do --> it's features ...

for example, take Microsoft Office,


  • Microsoft Word
  • again, it's components:

    • spell-checker,
    • Page designer,
    • Word art etc.
  • Excel

  • it's components:

    • formula editor,
    • Graph editor,
    • Diagram etc.

But, features ?

  • Microsoft Word

    • can detect your spelling mistake
    • you can customize page-design
    • you can draw simple arts etc.
  • Microsoft Word

    • can detect your formula mistake
    • you can customize overall sheet design
    • you can create charts from your data etc.
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Thank you for your explain :) – Tuan Nov 13 '13 at 8:44

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