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Sometimes I heard people talking about how "that guy is not a programmer, he is just a coder."

Could someone specify what's the difference between "programmer" and "coder"? Does the IT coder profession even exist?

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closed as not constructive by Glenn Nelson, GlenH7, Frank Shearar, MichaelT, gnat Mar 8 '13 at 6:49

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I see no difference. –  user2567 Oct 12 '10 at 7:07
They're spelt differently - that's about the only difference. –  gablin Oct 12 '10 at 10:16
I've heard the same question asked as 'What's the difference between a programmer and a software engineer?' The answer is usually of the form: 'About £10k' –  Kaz Dragon Oct 12 '10 at 15:08
Developer,Engineer > Programmer >= Coder –  MaR Feb 23 '12 at 10:43

5 Answers 5

up vote 26 down vote accepted

In my book, they're one and the same. Coder being a colloquial term.

What you want to be called is a software developer or software engineer.

That said, coder is a pejorative term used to imply that one is not passionate about their work and is merely a "day coder." I.e. they do not spend much of their own time outside of work programming, learning about programming, computers and other matters useful to the profession.

These days it seems that programmer is also pejorative, meaning basically the same thing. One with a narrow focus on a small set of skills necessary to remain employed, without much passion for the work.

No, there is no official coder profession, per se.

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I wish "programmer" was not pejorative. "Developer" sounds like a guy who builds houses. "Engineer" has different legal meanings per-country regardless of the dictionary meaning. "Architect" implies designing structure, but not algorithm. –  mike30 Mar 7 '13 at 19:41

Coder and programmer actually might have different implications about what a person does. Taken from McConnell's "Code Complete":

'Coding' isn't really the best word because it implies the mechanical translation of a preexisting design into a computer language; construction is not at all mechanical and involves substantial creativity and judgment. Throughout this book, I use 'programming' interchangeably with 'construction.'

Basically, McConnell argues that the term "coding" implies not much thought or skill goes into it: coders just translate from an algorithm to computer language. On the other hand, programming is a broader term that means constructing a project.

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The same difference that exists between other Synonyms of any other word.

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Some synonyms do not quite mean the same thing. –  Job Jun 4 '11 at 2:08
Then by definition they're not synonyms. –  jhocking Jun 4 '11 at 2:32
The difference between synonyms is not in their literal or direct meaning, but in the different connotations associated with each one. –  crazy2be Jun 4 '11 at 17:09
Nah, a synonym is a word you use in place of a word you don't know how to spell. I can spell "coder" much more readily than I can spell "prorgamr", and much, much better than "injuner". –  Daniel R Hicks Feb 23 '12 at 11:43

Coder often may mean medical coder.

Which, in my opinion, is only a little less mind numbing than coding medical coding software.

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Medical coder is the only instance I've run across coder... Programmers sometimes like to call themselves developers or even "software engineers" depending on how much of an ego boost they need that particular day, but I've never heard of them being called "coders". –  Brian Knoblauch Feb 23 '12 at 14:23

There should be no difference, that said, given the perjorative nature of the quote, I think the difference that is being described is this:

A Programmer can be given a problem and asked to find an algorithm that solves it, and produce the solution.

A Coder, has to be given the algorithm before he/she can write the code.

Often junior positions may start as Coder, but the company will expect you to develop into a Programmer. If someone is stuck doing junior work like that then using the word coder as an insult may be explanatory.

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