Coder vs Software Developer

Written on 20 November 2012

Are you a coder or a software developer? Think a bit before you answer that.

You might answer that both are the same thing, just synonyms but the devil is in the details once again. What does a coder do? Well, he (or she) writes code! What does a software developer do? (S)He creates and maintains software as a virtual product which has value for the business.

If you’re raising an eyebrow now thinking “The bullshit is strong in this one” fear not! It sounds like bullshit but actually it’s the truth. Look, nobody’s paying you to write code. You’re paid to develop a virtual product which can generate revenue or reduce expenses or improves efficiency or it’s useful for the business one way or another. That’s it. If you could achieve the same result without coding, nobody will complain. Coding is just a tool to get the result.

Of course that every software developer writes code so automatically (s)he’s a coder, but it’s important to understand the difference between the tool (code) and the purpose (create business value). A good coder writes and cares about good code. A good software developer writes and cares about a good product which just happen to be developed using code.

Coding, by itself, doesn’t bring any business value. It might bring enjoyment or help you understand programming better, but if the code doesn’t mean an application which fulfills the stakeholders needs (and expectations), then it’s useless. In fact it’s worse than useless, it’s an useless expense.

So if you weren’t doing it already, stop being a coder and become a software developer. Your boss/client will be happier if you show them that you understand you’re building a valuable product for them and it turn, this will improve your professional image and help you earn more money. A win-win situation.