Actually, nowadays coding and programming are two terms that are frequently used interchangeably
without going into the details of each or really knowing the difference between them. You might belong to
the school of thought that believes that the differences between the two terms are some malevolent
schemes for people to earn more than others, for at the end of the day, aren’t we all building software?
Whatever school you subscribe to, let’s compare coding vs programming. In the following we will define
the two terms, contrast them, and discuss the skills and tools used in each and these are:
Coding can be defined as writing computer programs likewise:
Computer programs are a set of instructions to be executed by a computer or a device
such as a smartwatch.
For a device to execute a program, it needs to compile it—transform the instructions from
a human-readable language to a computer-readable language.
Humans, called coders, don’t write instructions for computers in languages like English,
Spanish, or German.
There are specific programming languages that computers can easily translate to
machine-readable code (called binary-machine code). Computers store data in zeros and
ones, a pair, that’s why it’s called “binary” code.
2. Coding Technique
The instructions are written line by line, like in poetry. That’s why you’re likely to hear the
phrase “code is poetry” in tech circles.
Writing code like this makes it easier to find errors (a process known as debugging—yes,
there are “bugs” in code).
Lots of lines of code are called scripts, which are then compiled and executed, giving the
expected results, from a computer or any other device.
You need to understand the “rules” of a coding language in order to write clear
instructions for a computer or any other device.
Programming can be defined as laying out program requirements and specifications with the
ultimate goal of creating a high-quality product likewise:
With a great user experience and one that helps users accomplish a particular task.
Laying out these requirements can require coming up with the user stories that will
determine the features to be built.
Programmers understand concepts like scaling (expanding computing resources to
accommodate more traffic) and the factors that affect it.
They also estimate the cost of shipping a product (delivering it to users) and even
4. Programming Technique
Programming also involves advising on the tools and tech stack likewise:
It utilizes the combination of software and tools necessary to be used in:
- building the software
- testing—checking whether the requirements were met
- documentation—text that explains what the software is doing
- deployment—making the software accessible to users
A programmer will use flow diagrams, pseudocode (an explanation of what the code will
do that doesn’t use a programming language).
A programmer will use outlines to lay out what the project should look like in the long
Most of the time, programmers will be involved in a product’s maintenance even after it is
So, we’ve defined coding and programming. Now, we’re going to use certain criteria to contrast
the two practices to help you better understand them and these are:
In essence, coding is a small part of programming—it’s its subset.
Scope of work— Coding is creating computer programs, while Programming is laying out
the program requirements and specifications.
Tools, Skills and Knowledge— Coding uses Code editors, REPL, database management
tools, and a rubber duck and knowledge of a programming language, while
programming uses code editors, REPL, database management tools, planning and
management tools (for example Jira or Trello), design and modeling tools (for example
Figma and AdobeXD), and testing tools like Jasmine and Selenium and mastery in one or
two programming languages and project management.
Outcomes— Coding comes with a subset of a whole, for example, a program that allows
a user to login, while Programming comes with whole systems, for example, an entire e-
6. Skills and Knowledge
We’ll consider the differences under classic criteria such as skills and knowledge and these are:
Obviously, coding requires a good understanding of the programming language you are
writing your code in—especially its syntax and data structures.
You can check out some of the skills required to be a coder in some guides to learning
Programming, in addition to a good understanding of the programming language and its
syntax and data structures, needs advanced knowledge of the programming language,
and additional skills like project management, as you’ll be building larger projects with
more complex software architecture.
As a programmer, you are also likely to work with several teams and sometimes even
stakeholders like customers. As a result, programmers are likely to have impressive
We’ll consider the differences under classic criteria such as which tools are needed and these
As a coder, a code editor (the Google Doc equivalent of an interface on which to write
software) might seem like the only tool that you need.
Especially if the code editor is versatile enough to include syntax highlighting (where you
get different colors for different syntax), linting (which helps identify errors as you write
your code), debugging, and a ton of extensions that can make your coding easier (VS
Other helpful tools might include a REPL (Read-Eval-Print-Loop) program, where you
can “test” your code to see the output, database tools to help you automatically generate
SQL statements, and a good ol’ rubber duck (to talk through your coding process and
realize where you might be going wrong).
In addition to the above-discussed coder tools, a programmer will need additional tools
as their job has a wider scope. Programmer tools include:
- Planning and management tools like Jira or Trello
- Design and modeling tools like Figma and AdobeXD
- Testing tools like Jasmine and Selenium.
We’ll consider the difference under classic criteria such as the scope of the work carried out and
the outcomes of each and these are:
A coder’s scope of work largely comprises writing computer programs, a set of
instructions to be executed by a computer or a device like a smartwatch.
Programming, on the other hand, involves laying out program requirements and
specifications with the ultimate goal of creating a high-quality product.
In coding, the outcome is usually part of a whole. For example, you could write a program
that allows users to log in. The outcome, in this case, is that users can log in to a site or
The programmer, on the contrary, will be responsible for creating a whole e-commerce
system that will be market-ready. They will ensure that the system is fully functional even
during traffic spikes and that it does not have any downtime.
9. Differences Narrowed
Before you’d like to learn more about the world of coding and programming, check out these
As we said earlier, coding and programming are used interchangeably in most cases.
You don’t need to get a notebook and pen and try to map out the differences between the
two as if you were studying for an upcoming difficult test.
Depending on the company, there are coders who take on roles beyond writing code.
In a startup, for example, a coder may end up building an entire e-commerce system, as
well as many other different things.
Who should you call
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