In the classification of various IT professions, distinguishing software developer and software engineer positions causes one of the greatest confusions. Since many people perceive software development as a sort of engineering activity and envision engineering as an art of developing human achievements, it’s hard to see the clear difference between these professions as well.
But actually, the difference between software developers and software engineers exists.
Many observers try to find interesting metaphors to represent this idea and provide the distinction between two titles. They mostly refer to the analogy of a musher and a sled, or an architect and a carpenter. They work well on clarifying the extent of responsibility, but this is still an oversimplified representation of their difference. The truth is that both specialties share an important similarity in working together on the same goal. So, these two analogies should contain a crucial supplement that both do the same job and work on the same product but choose the different paths to achieve it. Precisely, a software developer starts by looking in-depth and then goes wider, while a software engineer chooses a broader perspective and steadily learns to distinguish tiny details. To put it even simpler, both specialists do the same thing – the difference is only in scale, either limited or large.
So, is there really a conflict labeled ‘software developer vs software engineer’? The short answer is, “Yes, but to a certain extent.” Continue reading to see why!
What is software engineer?
So, the software engineer. The mastermind behind the entire process within a software development life cycle. The systematic thinker who needs an entire team of co-thinkers to supply IT specialists with the necessary instruments.
The word “engineer” completely reflects the essence of the job that is done in this position – such specialist projects complex tools to facilitate the activity for both a customer and an artist.
Software engineer deals with big issues. On a daily basis, this person practices in solving them from a visionary standpoint. That’s the reason why he/she needs to keep track of how the entire process works – not only on the development stage but also on the design, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of the computer system. Besides, this professional needs to know how to control the components of the hardware. It’s crucial to keep all the technical characteristics and compatibility requirements.
In short, a software engineer is a hard-working team player who knows how and why to create helpful instruments for the software system to function. All these skills enable the application of the most effective approaches and practices for constructing tools. Because of that, this specialist resembles susuwatari, soot gremlins from anime ‘Spirited Away’ who helped Kamaji (or a software developer) in working. Or ants, if to use a more realistic metaphor.
What is a software developer?
The main task of a software developer is to write business-effective programs. And to do it well, he/she works as a free talent who creatively uses software tools and crafts needed applications for various platforms from them. Because of that, the specialist should be effective for the entire project and meet its goals step-by-step to help the software development process go on smoothly and productively.
In fact, the software developer is working with the same issues as a software engineer – he/she simply concentrates on the development stage within the software development life cycle and uses a more creative approach to solving its issues. For this position, it’s more important to come up with a workable solution than spend time on thinking whether this program fits all the process requirements and takes into account all the factors around the project. The bigger task is to make from the mess of tools a program that works.
Each and every day, software developer writes code and creates solutions that can work on one or several platforms, depending on how many of them the client has mentioned in the order. Since this position is tied to the development stage only, many observers tend to differ it from a software engineer’s one by positing the limited area of its activity. But that’s not accurate: software developer has much more creative power and complex vision while creating programs. Constructing the basis of software, this professional works as an independent artist and makes the readymade tool really work – and remain visionary and solve big issues.
So what's the role of software engineer & software developer in our days?
So, what’s the main role of a software engineer in the business process? To put it simply, that’s helping both customers and employers get maximum benefit from the solution designed and developed by a software development company. For this specialist, the crucial task is to ensure the integrity and freedom of all the stakeholders involved. In this context, the ability to provide ethical leadership is another key skill needed.
Among the most needed proficiency for a software engineer, this position requires possessing technical competence, emotional leadership, and awareness of all the basic tools (like automated testing and fault-tolerant systems) along with high-tech trends (like cloud technologies and Big Data). All this theoretical and practical background is needed to project the design philosophy that will maintain not only working solutions but also the entire IT infrastructure.
As for the role of a software developer, this person sticks to creating programs and making the entire business work. He uses the prepared tools to creatively develop apps designed and takes into account the client’s needs in them. That’s why the list of responsibilities on this position goes beyond coding and calls for experience in thematic review, design, specification, debugging, documentation, and optimization.
Moreover, the list of needed qualifications for a software developer includes knowing computer languages and possessing soft skills – especially analytical thinking and client-centeredness. By distinguishing the customer’s needs and tastes, this specialist becomes able to design and develop the high-standard and working set of components that perfectly match together.
So, is there really a difference between a software engineer and a software developer?
And he we are, back to the question, “What’s the difference between software developer vs software engineer?”. To make the answer short, both specialists work on creating effective software, so the difference is slight. On the one hand, a software engineer is a scientist who initiates new systems and tools. On another hand, a software developer is an artist who creates new programs and software networks.
But during their career paths, these two positions find themselves more similar. That’s because a true software specialist is both a developer and an engineer, knowing exactly how and why to construct software solutions.