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I hear the term 'bolt-on' used in many contexts, specifically in my organization where PeopleSoft is used extensively. I don't know exactly how it differs from an 'extension' of an existing product, a new module within an application, or an 'add-on' like you would purchase for a product you own. Is there a more formal definition of 'bolt-on' that I'm not familiar with?

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  • It is a fancy word for module, extension, etc. – user82096 Mar 25 '14 at 14:20
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    "Bolt-on" is used to identify a component that is quickly and easily added to another system. This distinguishes it from components that require more sophisticated integration or customization. – M. Dudley Mar 25 '14 at 14:27
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Most of those terms only have meaning in a specific context. In particular, I've only heard bolt on used with respect to PeopleSoft, where it means a separate application that integrates with the PeopleSoft ecosystem. Here's an article about the difference between bolt-ons and customizations (tl/dr: a customization is a change to some part of the PeopleSoft system, a bolt-on is a separate thing that uses the PeopleSoft system).

The other terms you used, module, extension, and add-on also need to be considered in a particular context. For example, in some contexts a module could be some source code component that needs to be compiled into a program, while in others it may just be a functional component of the program that can be added without modifying the original.

If you're unsure of what someone in your office means by a particular term, ask them. If you feel you can't do that without looking uneducated, check the documentation for the pieces of software that they're talking about.

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As M. Dudley stated in a comment below the answer, "bolt-on" is used to identify a component that is quickly and easily added to another system. This distinguishes it from components that require more sophisticated integration or customization.

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I would also add that this is mainly a slang term, and can also mean anything added to a system hastily, without regard for suitability or esthetics.

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