The line between software engineering and software development is often blurred. Both roles cross over each other, and both share some responsibilities and job aspects, so much so that some experts believe that the titles are redundant. But if we take a closer look, it would appear that there is enough distinction between these two roles to make them sufficiently unique and individual. Each role comes with a certain set of skills and responsibilities.
This article explores what differentiates a software developer from a software engineer, and which role might be better suited for certain business requirements.
Looking up the definition of a software developer and a software engineer is likely to yield thousands of pages, which is to say that there is no real consensus or 'official' definition of these roles. In very simple terms, software developers focus their time on writing code (i.e., a more functional approach), while software engineers apply their knowledge to design and evaluate the code created by the developers. Both roles are integral to the overall software development cycle.
Let's look at these roles from another perspective: software engineers liaise with clients to understand the software requirements for a specific project (that is, what the application is supposed to do, and how to do it). Engineers apply a set of engineering principles and concepts to design the software's framework, based on those requirements, and hand over the specs to software developers to actually create the code.
Generally speaking, software developers tend to have creative minds, as their work is largely focused on the creation of software applications.
Some of their skills might include, but are not restricted to:
Before hiring a new developer, or team of developers, it is essential to determine their skill and suitability for the role. Most, if not all, developers -whether junior or senior- are likely to have these two things besides their CVs.
Just like a photographer, video artist, painter, etc. creates and carefully curates a portfolio of their past work, it is essential for developers to have a similar asset that they can show to prospective clients and update as their career progresses.
This is almost a condition sine qua non. Software developers tend to have GitHub accounts from early on in their careers. This is an invaluable tool for developers to showcase their experience, seniority, and overall attitude towards the software creation task.
Software engineers are responsible for the software system as a whole, and so they're likely to have a wide range of skills.
Some of these skills include, but are certainly not restricted to:
As we have established, there is substantial crossover between the role of a software developer and that of a software engineer. Because of this, a software engineer is also likely to have a portfolio and a GitHub account.
There are, however, specialized platforms that might help a prospective employer to determine the skill level and experience of a software engineer. Vidcruiter, Coderbyte, and Codility are just three examples of this.
As explained during the introduction, and as highlighted in the skills section above, there is some crossover between both roles. But each position is different enough to require a certain skill set.
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