What’s the Difference Between Programming and Coding? 👩‍💻

  • Social Media
Contra Tips
· 6 min read

Confused about the difference between programming and coding? We’ll explain the definitions, processes, and key requirements for each.

Tech is developing at break-neck speeds, and the demand for software developers continues to increase. However, the field can seem confusing from the outside, especially regarding the terms "coding" and "programming." Although these terms may seem interchangeable, writing code is just one aspect of programming — an essential step in software development.

If you’re wondering, “What is code in programming?” we can help clarify. To give a better understanding, we’ll explain the difference between programming and coding and explore definitions, procedures, and critical requirements for each.

What is coding? 🗣️🖥️

In essence, coding is giving instructions to a computer, making it the foundation of all software development. Without it, we wouldn't have any of the websites, apps, and games we love. 

But exactly how does coding work? Code is written in a programming language that the computer can understand. Popular examples include C++, Java/JavaScript, SQL, and Python. In reality, this language is only an intermediary between human communication and the true language of computers: machine code. Once the code is written, it needs to be compiled, which typically involves translating the code into binary coded signals (ones and zeroes) that the computer can understand and execute.

What is programming? 🪲

Programming is designing and developing a logical software solution to solve a problem or meet a specific need. This process involves planning, writing code, testing, and debugging.

Now, how does programming work? The programming process is carried out in stages, starting with the problem statement. A programmer identifies the problem and determines the desired outcome. Next, they must design algorithms and flowcharts, breaking the problem into smaller, more manageable components.

Once the algorithms and flowcharts have been designed, programmers move on to software development. This involves writing the code and implementing the algorithms and workflows using the chosen programming language. Once the code has been written, it's time for software testing and debugging to ensure that the solution works as intended.

Documentation is another crucial aspect of software development. Programmers must create comprehensive documentation that explains the solution's functionality, features, and usage. Finally, software maintenance involves keeping the software up to date, fixing bugs, and making improvements to ensure that it continues to meet the user's needs.

Are coding and programming the same thing? 🤔

Not quite. Programming goes beyond just writing code. Although coding is an essential piece of the puzzle, programmers must hone various other skills — including problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity — to develop effective software solutions.

It may help to think of coding as writing and programming like being a novelist. There are many steps to writing a novel besides putting words on the page, and a novelist must consider all of them.

When hiring an Independent for a software development project, it's essential to understand the difference between a coder and a programmer. You could hire a programmer to do both coding and programming tasks, but you may want to avoid hiring a coder to perform essential programming functions.

Key differences: Coders vs. programmers ⚖️

Many people confuse the terms "coder" and "programmer," using them interchangeably. Understanding the differences between these roles is essential to ensure you hire a software developer who meets your needs. Here are some key differences to further highlight the differences between coding and programming:

  • Approach: Coders focus on translating an idea or design into machine-readable language. The role is more concerned with syntax and writing code that works. On the other hand, programmers design the entire software solution, including creating algorithms and workflows that translate into code.
  • Outcome: The outcome of coding is a software feature or functionality that meets the specifications set forth by the programmer. Programming, however, aims to deliver a comprehensive software solution that meets the needs of end users while satisfying the organization's business objectives.
  • Ease of Learning: Coding is a technical skill that requires an understanding of the syntax and logic behind the chosen programming language. Programming, however, requires a more comprehensive understanding of computer science concepts, software engineering, and database management, giving it a steeper, more complex learning curve.
  • Scope: Coding has a narrower focus; it’s primarily concerned with writing code that meets the software requirements. On the other hand, programming has a broader scope that encompasses designing, developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining software systems.

Understanding who to hire 🤝

A client searching for a software or web developer must understand the essential requirements for both coding and programming specialists. Here are the skills and requirements you should look for during the hiring process:

Software coding Independents 🔩

  • Skills: Coders should have a strong sense of self-reliance and patience. They often work independently and may need to spend long periods troubleshooting code.
  • Tools: They should have access to essential tools such as WordPad, Notepad, or Eclipse, which allow them to write and test code.
  • Level of knowledge: Coders require a keen understanding of programming languages, including their syntax and keywords, to write code that a machine understands.

Software programming Independents 🖼️

  • Skills: Programmers require a broad range of skills, including patience, adaptability, and time management, as they need to be able to work on complex projects with many moving parts.
  • Tools: They also need access to specialized tools which help them design, prototype, compile, and test software solutions. Common tools include Figma, Github, and Jira.
  • Level of knowledge: Programmers require substantial experience in algorithm creation, problem modeling, data processing, and project management, as they need to design and develop logical software solutions from start to finish.

Contra helps you find the best software developers 🤓

Understanding the differences between coding and programming is crucial when hiring an independent software developer for your business needs. Fortunately, Contra provides access to top independent developers who specialize in both coding and programming and can help you achieve your software development goals.

Contra is a commission-free hiring platform that’s building the future of work by connecting clients and Independents (our word for freelancers). You can peruse portfolios from countless skilled professionals across the globe to find the perfect solution to your business’s needs. For more info, check out our blog to see success stories and discover best practices for working with Independents.

Front-End vs. Back-End Developers: What’s the Difference? 👥 by …

Considering a career in web development? We’ll explain the differences between front-end versus back-end developers.
Contra Tips
We're here to help. 👋
Need some help? You've come to the right place. Here, you'll learn more about Contra and how we can help you with your journey.

Related articles

Start your
independent journey

Get started

Hire top

Hire now