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What is the difference between a developer and a programmer?

In my mind, developers have skills that are a superset of the skills of a programmer.


  • understand how software works
  • think about the best way to solve problems they are presented with
  • write good code
  • learn new techniques, languages and manners of creating software
  • write documentation
  • write tests


  • do all of the above
  • work with the business to define requirements
  • test beyond basic unit tests, up to and including user acceptance testing
  • understand basic system administration
  • do basic database tuning
  • deploy software and solutions
  • can do some UX design
  • can manipulate graphics
  • support and maintain what they’ve written

In other words, developers can span the gamut of needs–they are jack of all trades. ┬áNot all positions are fit for developers because they can be a mile wide and an inch deep, but in general having someone who can handle the entire software lifecycle is more useful in more situations than having someone who is handed a spec and can crank out code.

(Note that I’ve never worked in a huge company for longer than a few months, so perhaps that is where programmers are more useful.)

One thought on “What is the difference between a developer and a programmer?

  1. Pingback: Throwback Thursday: What is the difference between a programmer and a developer? | Dan Moore!

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