When most people think of a software engineer, they imagine someone sitting in an office for long hours writing lines of code, yet there is so much more to the job than that. Furthermore, there is a marked difference between software engineering and software development.
The fields of software engineering and software development – while related – require a different set of skills and know-how to master. For companies or individuals who want to produce a piece of software, discerning what type of professional to hire can be an exercise in frustration, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s why we wanted to take some time to share what the difference is between a software developer and engineer. We want to make your decision easier.
Put simply, software engineering describes the process of designing and developing software programs for computers using a known engineering design process. Engineering of any type follows specific design, material and digital manipulation principles based on mathematics and known programming languages.
Although advanced mathematics plays a role in many types of engineering, it plays a critical role in software engineering. Software engineers must know and understand how to create and work with algorithms. Software engineers are also creators through their manipulation of the guts of computer systems. They’re also pioneers who design embedded software programs that our digital world heavily relies upon.
As they create, software engineers also test and evaluate. Throughout the entire design process, software engineers push the performance envelope as they determine and expand software design limitations. The process they work through while creating and testing is otherwise known as the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
Software development, while related to engineering at a basic level, differs in that software development describes the process of assessing requirements, figuring out details, implementing architecture design, documenting and/or recording the process, quality control, and the integration of software frameworks and components. Software development is also sometimes referred to as application development or software design.
While individuals working in software engineering and software development follow a similar career path, the two fields are different in a few big ways. Those key differences lie at the root of the tasks they perform during a development life-cycle.
Researching, designing, coding, and documenting programs for computers and electronic devices involves a high level of artistry. While it is important that the software serves a specified need and functions properly, there is a design aesthetic and user experience to keep in mind as well. Developers typically spend more time considering UX and design aesthetic than engineers.
Where the engineering and development processes converge is in testing. Software development professionals spend just as much time fixing bugs, testing capabilities, and modifying lines of code throughout the entire lifecycle of the product. Thorough testing during the development process generally requires interactions with the end users, business clients, partners, vendors, and anyone else who may encounter or use the software being developed.
The quality assurance aspect of both software engineering and development is similar in that its sole purpose is to ensure the program meets the client’s requirements. Before the work begins, the client and developer or engineer will have completed an initial software design phase. The quality assurance process is meant to ensure the software’s essential functionalities match what the client wants while working properly with no bugs, glitches, or design flaws.
The fact is this: Modern software engineers and developers engineer, design, create, and develop programs that complete hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of calculations per second. In fact, the fastest computer in existence today can perform an eye-popping 33 trillion calculations per second.
A lot rides on even a simple piece of software. Nearly every major modern advancement somehow utilizes software in one way, shape, or form. Businesses need to be able to rely on an experienced developer to get the job done right the first time, every time… and that’s where we come in.
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