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Software developer and Software engineer?

What is the difference between a software developer and a software engineer?

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Doc’s Answer

Corey software developers design specific computer systems and application software. Software engineers work on a larger scale to design, develop, and test entire computer systems and application software for a company or organization—software development is a subset of software engineering.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPER
A software developer designs software or applications that allow users to perform specific tasks, such as building a spreadsheet, watching a movie or playing a game, on computers and mobile devices. While some software developers focus on creating specific software or applications, others focus on creating large networks or systems that manage the devices or control networks.

SOFTWARE ENGINEER
A software engineer designs, develops, tests, and maintains software applications and systems. They use their expertise in programming languages, software development methodologies, and tools to build and deliver software products that meet the needs of businesses, organizations, or end-users. Software engineers typically work in teams and collaborate with other professionals, such as project managers, quality assurance testers, and designers, to ensure that software products are of high quality, reliable, and user-friendly. They may also work on a variety of software systems, including web applications, mobile applications, desktop applications, and operating systems.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPER VS
SOFTWARE ENGINEER
The differences between software engineers and software developers can become muddled, but there are clear distinctions, including day-to-day tasks, career requirements, and salary potential. Overall, software developers exercise more creativity because they typically work on smaller, more focused projects. Software engineers provide more analysis, as their projects are often larger in scope. For instance, a software developer may look at creating a phone-based application for consumer use. Software engineers on the other hand, may look at creating an entire computer application for a business that includes various components around inventory, worker check-in and check-out, and profit tracking.

Educational requirements also differ between these two roles. Becoming a software engineer typically requires at least a bachelor's degree, but you can enter the field as a software developer with an associate degree or even limited technical training.

I hope this was helpful corey
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Gabriel’s Answer

The terms "software engineer" and "software developer" are often used interchangeably. The distinction between them can vary depending on context and individual interpretations, including subtle differences in the implied roles and responsibilities of jobs in any given company.

In general, both software engineers and software developers can be considered professionals who design, build, test, and maintain software systems. As such, they may be involved in different stages of the software development life cycle (SDLC), including requirements gathering, system design, coding, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

Below are some points that may help highlight potential differences:

1) Scope of Work:
* Software Developer: This term is often associated with the actual coding and implementation of software. Developers may focus more on writing code, building features, and solving specific technical problems.
* Software Engineer: This term might imply a broader scope, including not only coding but also aspects of system design, architecture, and possibly a more comprehensive understanding of engineering principles and practices.

2) Emphasis on Engineering Principles:
* Software Engineer: This term may suggest a stronger emphasis on applying engineering principles, including considerations like system architecture, scalability, and overall system design.
* Software Developer: This term may be more closely tied to the coding and implementation aspects of software without as much emphasis on broader engineering considerations.

3) Formal Education and Certification:
* Software Engineer: In some regions or industries, the title "engineer" may be more regulated and may require specific education, certifications, or licensing.
* Software Developer: This term may be more loosely used and might not have the same formal regulatory requirements.

4) Team Collaboration:
* Software Engineer: The title may suggest a more collaborative role that involves working closely with other engineers, architects, and stakeholders in the development process.
* Software Developer: While collaboration is also crucial for developers, the term may be more associated with hands-on coding and implementation work.

Examples:
1) A company in charge of developing the front-end of an e-commerce website, including creating interactive product pages, shopping cart functionality, and user authentication. The development of this software would involve implementing the user interface, writing code for the functionality of individual components, and ensuring that the application meets the specified requirements. In this company, they would be looking for "software developers".
2) A company developing software to interact, configure and control physical products. The development of this software may have to follow specific engineering standards due to regulatory compliance reasons. In this company, they would look for "software engineers" to be part of a Software Engineering organization aligned with other engineering disciplines to develop a fully-integrated product. They would look for people who can both develop software and be involved in the overall design and architecture of the application, including being responsible for making high-level decisions about the technology stack, ensuring scalability, and optimizing the overall system architecture.

In the examples above, the software developer's role is more focused on coding and implementing specific features, while the software engineer is involved in higher-level decisions related to the architecture and overall design of the software system.

It's essential to note that these distinctions are the result of my professional experience and not universally agreed upon. Different companies or industries define job titles based on staffing preferences or industry conventions rather than strict definitions.

Below are some suggested next steps, if you are interested in understanding more about the potential differences between software engineers and software developers.

Gabriel recommends the following next steps:

Research Job Descriptions: Look at job descriptions for software engineer and software developer roles at various companies. Pay attention to the skills, responsibilities, and qualifications listed for each role. This can give you insights into how different organizations perceive these titles.
Read Industry Articles and Blogs: Explore blogs, articles, and discussions in the software development community. Many professionals share their experiences and perspectives on the roles of software engineers and developers. Platforms like Medium, Dev.to, and Reddit can be good sources for such content.
Online Forums and Q&A Platforms: Participate in other online forums and Q&A platforms such as Stack Overflow. Engage in discussions about the roles and responsibilities of software engineers and developers. This can provide practical insights from professionals in the field.
Attend Meetups and Conferences: Attend local meetups, conferences, or webinars related to software development. These events often include presentations and panel discussions where professionals share their experiences and insights into the roles within the industry.
Online Courses and Tutorials: Enroll in online courses or tutorials that cover both software engineering and software development topics. Platforms like Coursera, edX, and Udacity offer courses on various aspects of software development, and you can gain a better understanding of the different roles.
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Corinne’s Answer

Hi Corey,
I think you will get some conflicting answers about this because various companies enjoy using "buzz words" at different periods of times depending on what is trendy to hire for at the time.
In my span of 10 years working in the industry I have had both titles of 'Software Engineer' and 'Software Developer'. In both roles my day to day work was nearly identical.

In practice I would pay closer attention to individual role descriptions on job descriptions to get a better understanding of the role and company.
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Ben’s Answer

The terms "software developer" and "software engineer" are frequently used as synonyms, yet their roles, duties, and work methods can differ:

Role Emphasis:

Software Developer: They are usually more engaged in coding and software application development. They often immerse themselves in the daily coding tasks of a specific project or a subset of features within a larger system.
Software Engineer: They too code, but their work might encompass a wider range, including system architecture, design, and analysis. They frequently consider the entire system's engineering elements, such as scalability, efficiency, and durability.
Work Scope:

Software Developer: They may focus on a specific aspect of software development, like front-end, back-end, or database development. They typically concentrate on implementing functionality, rectifying bugs, and refining existing products.
Software Engineer: They can participate in a broader array of activities, such as requirements collection, system design, testing, and upkeep. They may supervise the entire lifecycle of a software project, from inception to deployment and support.
Problem-Solving Method:

Software Developer: They usually concentrate on resolving immediate, specific issues through coding. They strive to create software that meets the specifications and requirements set by others.
Software Engineer: They might take a more comprehensive approach to problem-solving, not only addressing the immediate task but also considering its place in the larger system. They often participate in high-level decision-making and long-term strategic planning.
Educational Background:

While both roles may have similar educational backgrounds, traditionally, software engineers might have a degree in software engineering that emphasizes engineering principles, while software developers might have a degree in computer science or a related field.
Industry View:

Different industries and companies may use these titles interchangeably or assign specific meanings based on their internal job structures. In some instances, the distinction is more about the job title and less about the actual work performed.
Certification and Licensing:

In some areas, the title "engineer" may be protected and require specific certifications or licensing, implying a broader engineering responsibility.
In reality, the differences can vary greatly depending on the company, region, and specific job description. It's crucial to examine the specific responsibilities outlined in a job description rather than relying solely on the title.
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Justin’s Answer

I personally don't think there is any difference. Donald Knuth, a famous computer scientist, used to put "programmer" on his resume. I wish I could do that.

To clarify, I don't think there is a functional difference, but I know the term "software engineer" has a historical basis.

"Software engineering" is meant to be an analogue to traditional engineering i.e. mechanical, electrical. This is for writing software at scale - software that is fault-tolerant and meant for a large audience and meant to be written by large numbers of engineers. The "scale" part is important. For the first few decades(?) of the field, memory was dear and you would largely translate algorithms into code. When computers became more powerful, this increased the userbase widely, from non-mathematical companies to the average customer. So this aspect, tailoring code to a large, non-technical audience, became very important. I would call this literature - team- and organization-building, and project-scaling - "software engineering", because it's not specific to the code itself. Fred Brooks' classic "Mythical Man-Month" and Hunt and Thomas' "Pragmatic Programmer" are excellent examples of this.

Some programmers are wary about the aforementioned "engineering" analogy, because developing software is very different from developing traditional engineering projects. For example, Kanban, a process originally used for manufacturing, had to be adapted for software. Eventually, the practices of Kanban were refined in the Scrum methodology, which is more software-specific.

This is why I conclude, functionally, it's all the same:
1. The "engineering" part is still specific to software, and can't be compared to traditional engineering;
2. A majority of developers will need to take into account everything I had mentioned anyway, whether it's for a simple website or a complex healthcare form.

Anyway, if you read all of this, thanks for indulging in my nerdery. TL;DR - there is no difference amongst programmers, but depending on who reads your resume they may mean something different.
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Cameron’s Answer

Hi Corey,

The distinction and the definitions thereof are hotly debated in the industry. I'd say there is no real difference between a software engineer, designer, scientist or developer and the term is used differently across different companies within the industry.

Some would even go as far to say people who delve into software are not engineers at all, as they usually don't ever build anything physical. Please don't let this term change your idea of a career in this industry.
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Jonathan 〰️’s Answer

From my experience: it depends on what company you work for. It also depends if you live somewhere where "engineer" may be a legally protected term.

Within the industry at large you will find some consistent definitions, but when you start at a new job you'll likely find that the company doesn't adhere to any strict definitions.

Of the several places I've worked at, the terms have been inter-changeable at almost every one. The only exception at a particular position was simple: Developers work only with code, Engineers interact with hardware.

I wouldn't focus much on the job title itself, but rather take a look at their experience requirements. If you have the relevant experience, and the job interests you, the Engineer vs Developer question shouldn't be important.
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