The terms coding vs programming have been in use for many years now, but have you ever been in a situation where these two terms are used interchangeably and like the usage of either one doesn’t fit right? If your answer is yes, we can definitely tell you that coding and programming are two different concepts.

Looking up online, these are the easiest definitions we found about about each concept:

code = A system of symbols and rules that serve as instructions for a computer.

program = A set of coded instructions that enables a machine, especially a computer, to perform a desired sequence of operations.

More technically speaking, while programming is about developing a full-fledged application or machine, coding is about translating a language to one a machine can understand.

But to ensure you never get confused again, keep reading to learn more about what coding vs programming is, the differences between the two, which tools each one requires, how they work together, and what the end product using both will be like.


Table of contents

What is coding?
    ➤  Best coding languages
    ➤  Is coding harder than programming?
What is programming?
What is the difference between coding and programming?
    ➤  Tools
    ➤  Knowledge required
    ➤  End product
    ➤  What programming language is the most popular?
How do coding and programming work together?


What is coding?

Coding is a subset of programming and is essentially the process of implementing the application development plan in various understandable languages. It primarily aims to facilitate communication between the user and the machine.

Simply put, coding makes a computing device perform a certain task in its understandable language. That can be as simple as telling a machine how to add numbers or telling a car how to drive down the road on its own.

Computers are in every aspect of our lives. Software developers and software engineers are the ones who have the power to shape how these computers will work and perform a task.

Best coding languages

Languages which objective is to translate, map or represent something directly (without a programming logic) are considered coding languages. The most used and known coding languages include:

  • HTML - defines the meaning and structure of web content;
  • CSS - used to describe a web page's appearance and presentation;
  • VRML - used to illustrate objects, buildings, landscapes or other items requiring a 3D structure;
  • XML - simple text-based format used to represent structured information like data, books, invoices, transactions, and so on;
  • JSON - a minimal, readable format for structuring data.

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Is coding harder than programming?

Short answer: no. Coding is the first step to set up complex queries, and it is easier than programming. It deals with lines of codes without worrying too much about the details. On the other hand, programming deals with other difficult scenarios and queries in order to provide appropriate machine-level responses. Hence, it's essentially a more difficult form of coding, and far more complex.

What is programming?

Programming is the process of creating and developing an executable machine program that performs a set of instructions or tasks. It’s the process of building an application from scratch, planning, gathering resources, and structuralizing the entire app.

The primary aim of programming is writing code formally so that human input and machine output always remain in sync. Simply put, programming is about keeping all the cycles of programming and application development in tandem so that whenever you give your computer or your application a certain input, you will have to have a certain output that makes sense.

What is the difference between coding and programming?

We will break down the differences into three main categories which will help us understand coding vs programming better: which tools are used on both, knowledge required to perform each, and the end product.

Tools

When it comes to coding, one of the most important tools will be a text editor - it can simply be Notepad, a compiler or interpreter, or something more visually appealing to work with like Visual Studio Code, Emacs, Sublime Text, Atom, or Vim.

For programming, on the other hand, we will need more complex tools. A programmer will usually perform document reviews, a lot of planning, thinking about design, and so on. Hence, the tools he will need to use include advanced code editors, compilers, linkers, analysis tools, debuggers, modeling frameworks, and modeling algorithms.

Knowledge required

Coding will usually require a basic knowledge of programming languages and their syntax as the aim is to write the code that tells the machine to perform a certain task. Programming, on the other hand, requires a much deeper understanding of programming languages, building and working with algorithms, designing websites, debugging and testing codes, and project management.

Critical thinking, problem-solving, being analytical-oriented are also essential skills when building complex systems.

End product

Whereas in coding, the expected outcome is generally a simple solution that, after compiling, will successfully give the desired output, in programming, the result will be a full working application or piece of software ready to be used.

What programming language is the most popular?

Different languages are created for different purposes and different types of software. According to TIOBE, these are the top contenders in the community for the most popular programming languages:

  • JavaScript - used to develop interactive web applications;
  • Ruby - ideal for building static websites, desktop applications, automation tools, and data processing services;
  • Java - the best choice for powering IoT devices, web and desktop applications, android appplications, big data and games;
  • C++ - helps you computer programs and packaged software, such as games, office applications, graphics, video editors and operating systems;
  • C# - used to develop mobile and desktop apps, cloud-based services, games, websites and enterprise software;
  • Python - lets you work fast to integrate systems as a scripting or glue language; it’s also suited for Rapid Application Develop (RAD);
  • Swift - primarily used to develop apps for iOS and OS X.
  • Kotlin - inspired by Java, but much cleaner, simpler, faster to compile, and entails a mix of object-oriented and functional programming.

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What’s more, according to a survey run by StackOverflow, JavaScript has been the most commonly used programming language in the past years. However, Python has been rising in the ranks alongside Typescript, being the two languages developers want to work with most.

How do coding and programming work together?

By now, you already know the difference between coding vs programming and what the two deal with. Now let’s take a better look at how the two can - and should - work together to accomplish a seamless end product.

Let’s say you want to create an app that helps you prepare homemade meals and reduce waste. This is how the process of coding and programming will come into place:

Programming

  • Plan the app’s structure, with the help of tools like Trello;
  • Write down the main features of the app, what users are expected to use it for, how they navigate through it, how they search for recipes and ingredients, and so on;
  • Design the app using tools like Figma.

Coding

  • Takes the ideas above and makes them machine-readable by writing code for the app to perform specific tasks;
  • Upon assessing the code lines, checking for errors, running tests, and proof of seamless functioning, the application is ready to be deployed.

All in all, both coding and programming are used to create any software, web, or mobile app product. Coding is the first step in translating the requirements into a machine-legible syntax. In contrast, programming deals with the next stages of the executable program in order to build the appropriate machine-level outputs in response to the given human inputs. Hence, it entails all key aspects of the software development process, from debugging and compilation through testing and implementation.

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