Although developers and programmers share similar job responsibilities and skills, these are actually two distinct professions. While a programmer is a technician who specializes in code, a developer is a designer or project manager who also can code. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in coding, it’s important to understand the commonalities and differences between programmers and developers. In this article, we discuss the definitions of programmers and developers and review the primary similarities and distinctions between these two professions.
What is a developer?
A developer is a software professional who writes, manages and debugs the code in computer programs. Developers typically specialize in a specific type of coding language. A developer also manages other tasks related to software creation, modification and management, such as software documentation, architecture, databases and user experience.
What is a programmer?
A programmer is a coding professional. Programmers make, test and troubleshoot the coding languages within a software application to make sure it runs successfully. Programmers often follow specific instructions related to the application’s code while thinking innovatively about ways to make the code functional.
Developer vs. programmer
Here are the primary similarities and differences between a developer versus programmer:
Scope of work
Developers typically have a broader scope of work than programmers. In addition to writing and revising code, developers often manage software projects. This may include delegating tasks to other coding professionals, giving instructions to programmers about the type of code to develop and designing the software while keeping in mind the customer’s experience.
Programmers, however, typically focus primarily on the writing, debugging and testing of their code. A programmer may have greater technical knowledge of specific coding languages, techniques and troubleshooting methods than a developer.
Developers and programmers share some of their job responsibilities. Both professionals create, revise, test and troubleshoot code to ensure that software programs run as effectively as possible. In addition, developers and programmers might organize software data, use encryption or security methods to protect their software and check the compatibility of their software with various operating systems.
However, programmers typically have more job responsibilities related specifically to coding. Since they have more specialized knowledge of coding, they likely spend more time than developers working on a software’s backend, meaning the code that enables programs to run successfully for users. Programmers more frequently use tools like libraries or frameworks to build and test their code repeatedly. Developers, meanwhile, often balance a wider range of job responsibilities. A developer might, for example, analyze user feedback regarding software performance and make suggestions to programmers about potential coding improvements. Developers also may work more closely with other departments, such as marketing or design.
Both developers and programmers often work in an office environment with other computing professionals. However, programmers are more likely to work from home part- or full-time. Once a programmer has their coding instructions, they can often perform their individual assignment from anywhere. Since developers collaborate more frequently with others, it is more common for these professionals to work on-site.
Both developers and programmers are skilled in coding. They typically know how to write, test and debug multiple programming languages. Programmers, however, often have more specialized knowledge of the technical aspects of coding than developers. A developer and a programmer both also possess similar other types of technical knowledge, like documentation management and data organization.
Programmers and developers often have similar soft skills, meaning personality traits and behaviors that affect their work style. These shared soft skills include teamwork, flexibility, communication and critical thinking. Developers typically also have abilities that help them with the overall process of software development, like creative thinking. As developers often lead software development initiatives, they also possess skills that help them oversee projects and teams, such as leadership and project management.
Both programmers and developers often work in teams. However, a programmer may work independently for large amounts of time. Programmers may use their team to discuss software ideas or coding issues, but then approach their coding assignment on their own. Developers, however, typically act as the project managers for a team of programmers, designers, IT employees and other computing professionals. A developer might also collaborate with other departments, like marketing or sales, to ensure that their customers have a seamless experience with their products.