Programming vs Coding: Difference for an Absolute Beginner

When it comes to software development, the term “programming” has been used interchangeably with “coding”. However, there are subtle differences between these two terms. As a result, it’s important to understand the difference between programming and coding before you jump into your next coding project.

The main difference between programming and coding is that programming consists of writing computer programs with instructions or logic, whereas coding is forming those programs by writing code in a particular language. Coding is the subset of programming!

I have made this informative “programming vs coding” guide for someone who doesn’t know the difference between these two.

What is Programming?

The term ‘programming’ refers to a collection of instructions provided by humans to a device to accomplish a particular task.

When we develop any software product, there are several processes involved, such as:

  • Research
  • Design
  • Testing
  • Deploying
  • Maintenance

This whole scenario may be referred to as programming.

In the same way, when we give instructions to the computer, we must speak in a language it understands [1]. Generally, software instructions are provided in the following languages:

  • PHP
  • Javascript
  • Visual Basic
  • Pascal
  • Python

Programming, however, requires more knowledge, skills, and experience than coding. The creation of complex systems or apps requires proficient codes, data structures, and algorithms.

Thus, a software program that is executable requires programming.

What is Coding?

In coding, normal language is converted into machine instructions, which are then guided step-by-step by an intermediate language.

A computer is programmed by writing commands in natural language to perform a series of steps. For instance,

name = “ Tom”;

The above command displays the name as the output in two steps: first, it stores the information in a variable and then displays it in the second step.

The instructions are translated into something that the computer can understand, known as the compilation process.

To write code in a particular language, you need to know the syntax, keywords, and basic logic.

Programming vs Coding Comparison Table

TerminologyProgramming requires a proper outline and framework to ensure the code follows specific rules and standards.Coding is writing codes or instructions understandable to both humans and computers. It is a way of communication between the two.
ToolsFor programming, you need more tools like debuggers, modeling frameworks, assemblers, databases, APIs, GUI designers, compilers, modeling algorithms, analysis tools, and more.coding requires a simple text editor like Notepad++, Visual Studio Code, Atom, Sublime, or Vim.
Knowledge LevelProgrammers work with complex algorithms, debugging tools, math models, databases, data structures, and more. In addition, programmers also need problem-solving thinking and analytical skills.After learning to code in one language, you can learn the other language easily.
ApproachProgramming requires a thorough approach, you have to meticulously plan all the aspects of a web app before working on it. The end product may take a month or more.Coding can solve a problem in a couple of hours. It doesn’t require any prior preparation or goal. With the hit and error method, you can obtain the functional code.
OutcomeThe expected outcome of programming is a working application, a website, or a software product.The coding outcome is a simple output, as shown in the “console.log(name)” example. The end product is usually the result of instruction compiled by the computers, a functional code.
Final PictureThe programming process is like a forest with a broad perspective, encompassing everything from troubleshooting to assembling to test execution.Coding relates primarily to that forest (programming), which involves interpreting requirements, creating code, and converting those into machine-readable input.

How Coding and Programming Work Together?

At this point, I hope you get the main idea of programming vs coding as an absolute beginner. Now let’s see how these two worlds work together to develop an app or a piece of software.

Let’s say you have been asked to develop an app that tracks your sleep-wake cycle. To begging with, a programmer will outline the structure of the app, its main features, and design its interface.

Then comes the role of a coder, who transforms the idea into machine-readable instructions performing various functions. The different chunks of code are integrated to provide desired functionality to the app.

After the coder completes the task, the programmer again takes over the process for testing, debugging, and analyzing the app is working as planned. If the application passes all these tests, the programmer deploys and maintains it.

Note: Often, the programmer and coder are the same people performing all these tasks.


How Hard is Coding and How Long Does it take to Learn it?

It depends upon the programming language. As discussed above, coding is relatively easy; however, it still takes time because it has a different syntax from the natural language. The hardest languages are those that are closer to the machine language.

What are the Best Coding Languages To Learn In 2022?

  • Python- user-friendly and increasing demand in the artificial intelligence field
  • JavaScript- the most popular language, with frameworks and libraries, for web development
  • Kotlin- used for Android development
  • Swift- For iOS development

What are the Best Sites to Learn Coding?

  • Udemy
  • Codecademy
  • Khan Academy

Let’s Conclude Programming vs Coding Debate

When people hear about the difference between programming and coding, they often get confused.

 Programming and coding are two different things. Coding is simply the process of creating the program instructions for your computer to use and designing your software’s architecture.

For example, if I were to design a website for my friend, I would design the website architecture using different techniques and tools. And finally, I could easily design and develop the whole website using HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, etc.

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