Developer vs. Programmer

Subscribe to my newsletter and never miss my upcoming articles

Hello, Buddies! This is a somewhat different topic and I hope you won't scold at me. Actually, most of developers are good programmers. But there's a small different between Developer and Programmer

A developer and a programmer are vital to the whole process of software development, but it’s the responsibility which differs between both. Take it this way, the developer is someone who takes an abstract image described by a person who wants this picture to be painted. They place the responsibility of procuring said picture on the shoulders of the developer. A programmer is a painter with the brush, bringing the image to life, while the developer guides them into bringing this picture to life.

Programmer

image.png A programmer’s job includes writing code, testing, and fixing bugs.

A programmer converts a design into instructions that a computer can follow. These instructions are coded using one of many programming languages. They usually know several of these languages including Java, C#, PHP, Oracle, SQL Server, JavaScript, etc.

Specialized programmers focus on one type of programming. General programmers write code for many types of software.

Typically, programmers work in groups or teams under a senior programmer (team leader) that supervises their work.

A programmer may be an expert in multiple fields like databases, web development, security development, and more. Depending on their programming skill sets and areas of expertise, they may choose to specialize as application programmers, system programmers, AI and machine learning engineers, or game programmers.

Just like a competent cook can really turn a recipe into a great meal, programmers translate ideas taken from other people and turn them into clean and efficient code. Think of programmers as the technicians of the software development process.

Developer

image.png Their job responsibilities include writing code, but they also contribute to many other aspects of the project/software development process. Along with coding, a developers tasks often include:

  • Software design
  • Development
  • Research
  • Writing documentation and specs
  • Maintenance
  • Testing software
  • Core implementation
  • Analysis

Basically, a developer is a programmer first and foremost but with larger scope of responsibility for other aspects of the project.

If a programmer is like a reasonably confident cook, a developer is more like a professional chef. Not only can they cook to a high standard, but they can take a more creative and conceptual approach to what they’re making. This means finding out what their target market wants, creating a plan for how to make it, and coming up with a series of instructions that they can give to other cooks. Chefs do this for restaurants and developers do this for programmers.

How to Excel as a Programmer

These are bonus for reading this article. Besides having a strong foundational knowledge in computer science, a programmer should know how to write clear, logical code. Additionally, to stand out as an efficient programmer, you must be able to read and edit other people’s code. Reviewing existing code gives you an opportunity to understand what works and what doesn’t: insight that’s valuable when you’re updating someone else’s application. Reading another programmer’s code could also encourage you to learn new languages, and see how multiple languages interact.

It is essential for a good programmer to have debugging skills. This becomes important if there’s dysfunctional software, in which case the programmer will need to trace back to the root of the problem. These skills can help a programmer build a flow document. Flow documents help programmers investigate the code and find the specific problem, instead of changing the code entirely.

Apart from the technical aspect, a programmer must be a strong team player. They should also remain optimistic when they’re met with failure, and love to research issues: great programmers are able to learn from their mistakes and constantly improve their craft. To become a good programmer, you should have read Become a Better Programmer by Ayushi Rawat And also remember to read 5 Mistakes you should not make when starting your career as a software developer by Obayuwana Paul

How to Excel As A Developer

Every successful developer has to be a good programmer. If you want to be a developer, you must understand how to read and write code. Skillful programming is an art that is a prerequisite to becoming a developer. Even if a software developer has over ten years of experience, they must continue to practice coding to remain proficient.

If you’re interested in knowing which code languages every developer needs to know, we’ve got some recommendations. If you want to be a developer, you shouldn’t aim to find the exact or perfect solution; there is none. Instead, focus on getting as close to your desired goal as quickly as possible. If you practice your skills by taking on personal projects outside the workplace, you’ll become a faster, more efficient programmer. Lastly, despite the experience, an efficient developer should avoid using third-party libraries blindly without verifying the source code.

Other than coding skills, a developer must also be equipped with project management skills and soft skills. And also, to improve your development skills, you should build games. Check Why Software Developers Should Build Games by Victoria Lo and if you are an aspiring web developer, you must read Roadmap for aspiring web developers by GirlThatLovesToCode

Programmer vs Developer

If you’re still unclear, the key difference between a programmer vs developer is their scope of work. Programmers, while being competent at what they do, have a more limited capacity of work in comparison to a developer. A developer is involved in the full project scope whereas a programmer is generally limited to coding.

Victoria Lo's photo

Interesting article! Thanks for the enjoyable read and mention :)

Ayushi Rawat's photo

Good read. 👍🏻

Thank you for mention 🙂

GirlThatLovesToCode's photo

Thanks for including my post (:

Obayuwana Paul's photo

Nice article 👍

Thanks for the mention 🙂

Manthankumar Satani's photo

Good read.

José Torres's photo

Good article. It shows neatly the differences between a developer and a programmer. Also, its references are very good too.

chandan naskar's photo

good article

Felipe Francisco's photo

I genuinely think that creating such distinction between a "Developer", a "Programmer" and an "Engineer" just creates unnecessary labels and undermines the competency of professionals in the industry. To be absolutely honest, I have never seen serious job adverts hiring said "Programmers" for roles such as the ones described in this article - as there should be no such thing.

Who would hire someone just to "write code" and "bug fix" without participating in key parts of the software process? Doing so is a pretty good recipe for failure, bad software and pretty unhappy people (obviously, I'm not referring to short-term contractors here, all cases have exceptions).

If you code, worry less about how your role is called; focus more on being a good professional by owning the software you write, being interested in good practices, testing, design, architecture at all stages of your career - the article saying that you can think of a type of profissional "like a competent cook [who] can really turn a recipe into a great meal" sounds like a joke...

If you're in a company that expects that sort of behaviour from you, as in "take these requirements and make it", I'd strongly suggest searching for new opportunities where you can grow professionally instead of just "following recipes".

Faisal Albasu's photo

I strongly agree with this point, I don't think there's any difference between these two, every developer is a programmer and every programmer is a developer. It just depends on what one prefers using as an individual.

pablo justino's photo

Waba davalapar