Programming vs. Coding: What is the Difference?

In a world where confusion is prevalent, software development is not exempted. The industry has its jargon that simply means different from the usual meaning. For people not related to the tech world, cookies are delicious and sweet, but for developers, they are simply the data sent by an internet server to the browser. Another example is a firewall; it can be the one that prevents the spread of fire to your house or the system in your computer that blocks unauthorized access. This can be baffling if you’re new to software development. Perhaps, the most confusing of these differences is the debate regarding coding and programming.

Some may confuse coding for programming and vice versa. Depending on who you are and who you speak to, this may or may not matter, but if you are new or planning to join the world of software development, you need to know the difference between them to decide where to put your feet first. This article will help you determine their differences and choose where to begin in the industry.

What is programming?

What is programming?

Programming can be defined as the process of creating a set of instructions that will tell the computer how to perform a particular task. Programming involves planning the structure, designing, developing, testing its features, deploying and maintaining it after it’s finished. 

Strange as it sounds, computers do not understand our natural language. Some even call them dumb. You may argue: What about Siri or Alexa or Google Assistant? When you “speak” to Apple’s assistant, Siri records your voice’s frequencies and sound waves then translates them into a code. It would then break down the code to identify specific patterns, phrases, and keywords in your request. 

They are programmed with a complex algorithm that lets them determine what your inputted phrase means then respond to your requests or commands. These virtual assistants are not intelligent on their own. Yet. Seamless programming plays a significant role for software as complex as this to work. 

What is coding?

What is coding?

From the example above, voice-controlled assistants like these work through millions of lines of codes for them to respond in a certain way. Now, what is coding? Coding is the act of translating the natural language into a programming language that a machine or computer can understand. These codes of instructions direct the step-by-step actions the computer needs to perform. Coding falls under the developing stage of programming. Coding falls under the development stage of programming.

How are they different?

Simply put, coding is a subset of programming since it is part of the whole programming process. Think of a forest with many trees. Programming is the forest, and coding is just one of the many trees that make up that forest.  

4 Key Differences between Coding and Programming

4 Key Differences between Coding and Programming

Programming and Coding in Action

Coding and Programming are relatively different but interrelated, as discussed above. It will be difficult to develop software with codes alone, and you can’t program one without it. Let’s cite a real-life scenario to understand better how they work together. 

You have been tasked to create an app that will monitor the user’s daily expenses or daily social media use. You will need a programmer to plan the app’s structure, write down possible features, what users are expected to use it for, etc., and design the app flow.

After completing the planning and design stages, coders can play their role. They translate or transform the programmer’s structure and design ideas into a machine-readable form; they do this by writing codes that the computer software will perform. After this process of coding, the programmer will again come into play. 

The programmer will assess the code, check for errors, run some tests to check if everything is working correctly according to the initial plans and design, and ensure that the codes give the expected results. If the programmer is satisfied with everything after the testing stage, the app becomes ready for deployment and maintenance, which still is the programmer’s job.

Why is it essential to know the difference?

Understanding the differences and functions of coding and programming in software development will help beginners decide where to start. Assess yourself. If you are more into planning, designing, and logic, you might want to step into the programming path. If you just enjoy reading and writing codes, then invest time in coding and learn one programming language at a time.

You must also consider this: Coding and programming don’t have to be done by two separate individuals. If you want, you can choose to be a “coder” and a “programmer” at the same time.

The world of computer science is a vast and still-evolving field. Make sure you enjoy and have fun while working on the path you choose to take.

Key Takeaways

Programming is the process of converting ideas and requirements into algorithms while Coding is the art of translating these algorithms into functional computer codes.

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