Coding vs. Programming: A Never Ending Debate

Now that we are a part of the digital era, you might have come across the two terms, coding and programming, used interchangeably. It is a common notion that coders and programmers are one and the same thing. On the contrary, there is so much difference between computer programming and coding as per the software development vocabulary. There is also much refinement perceived in computer programming recently as top professionals such as data scientists also need to do programming in their job.

This article is based on clearly explaining the differences in coding vs. programming and how both these activities work collaboratively to develop the apps and sites. We will provide you with all the information for making a distinction between the two phenomena. And above all, you’ll find out how coding plays a crucial role in the overall programming process and can contribute to your career progression. By the end of the article, you will be in a place to make a decision about your career.

Let’s explore these two and how professionals use them by first answering ‘What is coding?’ and ‘What is programming?

What is Coding?


Coding is basically the act of translating codes from human language to a machine-based language. It can also be called a subset of programming since it is the foundation of programming. A coder has to be multilingual and has to write codes in different programming languages such as Java, C, Python, R based on the requirement. With the help of codes, you are providing instructions and information to the computer.

Three common components of most of the programming languages:

  • Code syntax and rules that are to be followed when writing a code
  • Compiler for converting code into the respective machine code
  • Code execution and returning the results

A computer only understands the machine code, written in binary language. A coder’s task is to transform the requirements given to him into a language understandable by the machine. Also, some programmers translate logic into machine-understandable codes with a language. Coding used for implementing the fundamentals of computer programming in one way is also programming. The difference is that programming is used in a broader sense and deals with writing codes in multiple languages.

The coders work as per the received instructions. After this, the code implementation, debugging, code testing, and quality analysis is executed. These instructions are customarily called “source code.” Coding involves writing codes for creating a software program. Any sort of application, website, or game is a program. Let’s now have a look at the detailed explanation of programming.

What is Programming?


Programming is a bigger aspect than coding, which is one of the parts of it. It is the process of developing an executable software program that is implemented without any errors. It is the programmer’s job to analyze a problem in the code and provide solutions.

Application creation requires several necessary steps, including planning, designing, testing, deployment, and maintenance. So, programming deals with not only coding but also analysis and implementing algorithms, understanding data structures, and mitigating issues. Altogether, the whole process is called programming

A pseudocode is a good approach for explaining the algorithm to the coder. Coding is an essential part of programming, but a programmer requires a lot more knowledge, experience, and additional skills than coding. 

A programmer creates complex programs, read, and executed by the machine providing a complete set of instructions for computers to perform. It takes years to become a professional programmer. If you can build a program and ensure that it doesn’t have errors, you can consider yourself that you have leveled up in your career as a successful programmer.

There is one simple example that can clearly explain programming. For instance, you can program the clock to wake you up at 6 AM. Also, you can program the AC to work on the temperature that you have chosen with the remote button that has codes at the backend to work on the given set of instructions by the user.

We hope by now, we could make you understand that programming is incomplete without coding but not necessarily. Further, let’s take a closer look at the differences between the two.

Read: Highest Paying Programming Languages

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Difference between Coding and Programming


While coding and programming seem to be synonymous at the front, they are altogether different from each other. While coding means writing codes from one language to another, programming means to program a machine with a given set of instructions to run.

A coder’s task is to translate logic into language the machine can understand, whereas a programmer has to do more than just writing the codes. Let’s have a look at some of the differentiating points between these two topics to get a clear picture:

1. Basic Difference

Coding is a part of programming that deals with converting the language into binary commands for the machine. Programming is the process of creating a program that follows certain standards and performing a certain task.

2. Scope

Coding is about translating the requirement logic into machine-understandable code. In contrast, programming demands analysis and conceptualization of different aspects of any program and finding solutions to any issues that may occur during the process. It also involves critical parameters such as debugging, compiling, testing, and implementation.

3. Tools

Coding doesn’t require so many software tools to be accomplished. Just a simple text editor like WordPad or Notepad would suffice. Nowadays, an IDE and debug tools such as Eclipse, Bootstrap, Delphi, ATOM are also used.

Programming requires document review and performing analysis along with coding that requires extra tools. The tools needed in the process are code analysis tools, code generators, databases, testing frameworks, linkers, compilers, code editors, GUI designers, assemblers, debuggers, and performance analysis tools. 

A programmer is expected to know the advanced concepts of Git and Github, Database tools, analytical tools such as Apache Spark, presentation tools, cloud tools since it has a broader scope.

4. Skills

Coders are needed to have basic knowledge of programming languages. Programming would require creating algorithms, math models, data processing, and data structures know-how. A programmer needs a specialized degree and experience to write logic, analyze, design, and write complex programs. He also applies his imagination and analytical skills for solving specific problems. He is also expected to understand and create complex data structures and algorithms.

The coder’s job is to follow the programmer’s technical specifications to write code and ensure that the final outcome meets the requirements.

5. Outcomes

While coding, the expected outcome is the result of applying a set of instructions given to a computer with a piece of code. On the other hand, after programming, the obtained outcome is a whole application, a software product, or a website.

Head-to-Head Comparison between Coding and Programming

Parameters Coding Programming
Definition Translation of natural language into a machine-level program. Development of a fully functioning software.
Scope Translating the requirement logic into machine code. Analysis and conceptualization, debugging, compiling, testing, and implementation.


Tools Text-editors such as Wordpad or Notepad, IDE such as Eclipse, Bootstrap. Tools for analysis, code generator, database, data structure, testing frameworks, linkers, compilers, code editors, GUI designers, assemblers, debuggers, performance analysis tools. 
Skills Basic knowledge of programming languages such as C, Java, C#. Analytical skills, writing complex programs, data structures, and algorithms.


Viewpoint Trial and error approach with no previous preparations. An orderly approach and attention to minute details.
Outcome A functional code. An application, software, or website
Support Broad community support from Stackoverflow, Github, Toptal, SAP Network depending on coder’s requirements. Broad community support from Stackoverflow, Github, Toptal, SAP Network depending on programmer’s requirements.

Also Read: Top 7 Exciting Project ideas in C For Beginners

Final Words

Often people confuse coding and programming; we hope by now you totally agree that they are distinctively different after comparing coding vs. programming with a number of factors. Both coding and programming are required for developing any software product.

Coding is the primary step and translates the requirements and codes to convert into a machine-comprehensible syntax. Still, programming deals with the executable programs to produce the mechanical outputs following the inputs and requires the knowledge of the complete software development life cycle.

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