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Coding Vs Programming For Beginners: What Is The Difference?

Every field of work has its vocabulary – specific words that hold distinct meaning that is different than their meaning in the context of everyday life. This is specifically true for the professional vocabulary of the software development industry which continues to grow and evolve. In a bespoke software development company, for example, words like ‘engagement’ have nothing to do with weddings, ‘cookies’ are not edible, ‘classes’ are not something you have to attend, and even ‘bugs’ are annoying due to very different reasons. Another example of this is the debate of coding vs programming – two of the most frequently used terms in the field of software development.

For people not related to the industry, the debate of coding vs programming is non-existent and the difference between the two terms does not matter. The terms seem interchangeable. But in this article, we will provide you with all the information to help you distinguish between the two terms. So, let’s explore the terms further to find out why and how professionals use them differently by answering two main questions – what is coding? and what is programming?

What Is Coding?

It is commonly known that computer processors only understand the language of ones and zeros and our natural language is completely different from this binary language. Thus, we need to translate the commands that we want to execute into the language of processors. But what is coding and, most importantly, what do coders do? Coding is the translation of natural language into machine commands and coders use an intermediary language to direct the step-by-step action the machine needs to take. Is coding the same as programming, though?

Depending on the programming language, effective coding requires some skills. You must know the syntax, main keywords, and the basic logic behind the language of your choice (the main point of the coding vs programming dilemma).

What Is Programming?

what is programming

While coding is a big part of software development, it is not the most important part. To create a product, you need to take several additional steps. They include planning, design, testing, deployment, and even maintenance. Altogether, the whole process can be called programming.

So, is coding and programming the same thing?

This question is equivalent to “Is a tree and a forest the same thing?” One is an essential part of the other, but there is also much more to it. Programming requires a lot more knowledge, experience, and various skills to pull off than coding. To simplify it further, if you ask an individual to help you modify a few lines of code in a website, he can be a coder. However, to build a complete web application or product, you have to rely on a web development company to program it from scratch. Let’s move on to answering in more detail the main question of this feature – what is the difference between coding and programming exactly?

Source: Khan Academy Computing

What Is the Difference Between Coding and Programming?

coding vs programming

Ultimately, is coding and programming the same thing?

Although one can be regarded as a part of the other, coding and programming can also mark a fundamental difference in approach to a project. Depending on scope and complexity, one can be more beneficial than the other.

In most cases, when a professional software creator has to choose between coding vs programming, programming is the way to go. In important projects, before writing the first line of code, you need to have an outline for your program and an idea of how much resources you will need. When the code is done, you need to review, optimize and thoroughly test it.

So, when is coding more important in the coding vs programming dilemma?

First of all, coding is a way to solve simple problems, such as related to one-task applications and one-page websites that don’t need a lot of planning and resources. Another answer to the question “What is coding for?” is that it is a starting point for beginners. To learn how to build an intricate program, one has to know how to handle each part of it and that is where the knowledge of what is the difference between coding and programming comes in handy.

Coding vs Programming Comparison Table

Coding Programming
Coding means the translation of natural language into machine commands through an intermediary coding language Programming means the process of development of a fully functioning software solution
For coding, a text editor would suffice Programming requires analysis tools, modelling programs, code generators, and testing frameworks
A coder requires a basic knowledge of a programming language, its syntax, and keywords A programmer should be a skilled individual with substantial experience in creating algorithms, modelling a problem, data processing, and project management
It follows a trial-and-error approach and needs no previous preparations Programming follows a methodical approach and needs attention to detail
Coding results in a simple solution or a small part of a project Programming results in a full ready-to-use application

The table above shows the main differences between coding and programming, now let’s review each of them in detail.

• Baseline Difference

As it was discussed earlier, the coding vs programming difference lies in the very definition of both processes. Programming is the general process of creating a program that follows certain standards and performs a certain task. Coding, on the other hand, is a part of programming that deals strictly with converting the language we understand into binary commands for the machine.

• The Difference in Tools Needed

Is coding the same as programming in terms of software tools?

Since coding is a simple act of translation, you don’t need much to perform it. In most cases, a simple text editor like WordPad would suffice (although an IDE with built-in autofill and debug tools is often helpful).

Programmers, on the other hand, need to review documentation and perform analysis besides coding which requires extra tools such as coding programmers monitor. You can find various code analysis tools, code generators, databases and testing frameworks in their inventory.

• Difference in Expertise

The next difference in our coding vs programming debate lies in the skills the person performing these tasks needs to have. Coding requires basic knowledge of a programming language. If you want to program, you’d need to understand much more. Like how to create algorithms and math models, how to process data, know math, and in some cases, event management experience.

• Coding vs Programming in Approach

What is the difference between coding and programming in terms of the basic way things are done? Programming requires a methodical and thorough approach. It usually takes from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to achieve your goal as a programmer. Writing code can be done without any preparation and a simple solution can be coded within a couple of hours. It often progresses by trial and error method.

• Difference in Outcome

Another question that often comes up in a Coding vs Programming debate is that ‘will programming and coding the same thing will have different outcomes?’ Different approaches lead to different results. As has already been mentioned, the choice of the method should be based upon the desired complexity of the final product. So, you should not expect to get a fast, multi-functional application with attractive UI and UX from just coding.

Is Coding Hard to Learn?

As we have discussed before in our discussion on coding vs programming, coding is just a part of programming. Yet, it still requires some time and skill to learn. Programming languages are very different from natural languages, and their syntax can sometimes be very confusing. The hardest languages are low-level ones that are close to actual processor instructions.

How Long Does it Take to Learn Coding?

This question does not have a simple and definitive answer. After you understand what coding is, the time you need to learn a new programming language will depend on many factors, such as:

  • How difficult the language is;
  • How much prior experience you have;
  • How popular the language is;
  • If there is anyone more experienced available to help you.

What Is Coding Language And Which One Is the Best to Learn?

Alongside ‘what is the difference between coding and programming’, this isn’t an easy question to answer either, as different languages are created for different purposes and different types of software. Here are our top contenders for the best coding language title:

  • Python – an easy-to-understand language that is constantly gaining more popularity;
  • Kotlin – the official language for Android development;
  • Swift – a kit made for iOS development;
  • C++ – a reliable and time-tested tool.

What Programming Language Is the Most Popular?

According to the StackOverflow survey, the most popular language in the professional field is JavaScript (but HTML/CSS is a close second). It is irreplaceable for front-end coding and can often be seen used in other fields as well. However, being the most popular makes it less attractive for beginners as the competition for it is too intense.

If You Wish to Start Learning Today, Here Is a List of Computer Coding and Programming Courses for Beginners!

Learning a new skill like coding and programming is not difficult today given the plethora of online resources available such as courses and tutorials. Some of them are free and specifically designed for beginners, so even if you have no know-how of coding you can take the online coding courses and computer programming courses for beginners and learn to code for free! These are also a great way to learn coding skills that might eventually help you land a job at a leading software development company.  These courses cover the basics of coding and help you decide if you want to proceed to learn the advanced concepts of coding and take paid courses and certifications.

Below is a list of 6 free programming courses for beginners:

1. Coursera

Coursera is a top choice for online courses for millions of people. While there are some courses you can pay for to receive a certificate, the majority of introductory coding courses for beginners are for free. Coursera offers courses from the University of Michigan, University of California San Diego, Rice University, and more.

If you want to get started with learning Python then Coursera’s course on Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python) offered by the University of Michigan is the best choice for you. Although there are not many free online programming courses with certificates, you can get a certificate for this course by paying a small amount and you can even avail financial aid.

2. Udemy

Udemy is another renowned platform for online courses. They also have a great collection of free online programming courses for beginners that are specialized in WordPress, HTML/CSS web development, game coding, etc. The best thing about Udemy courses is the video format which makes the learning process fun and easy.

Following programming courses’ list includes some of the most interesting Udemy courses:

3. CodeGym

CodeGym, is an online platform to learn Java and a huge online portal for everyone who is interested in programming.

The most important thing at CodeGym is a “Java for beginners course”. It allows a student to find out Core Java from scratch in practice as 80% consists of coding tasks.

CodeGym contains more than 1200 coding tasks. Some of them test directly learned concepts, and some are small projects with step-by-step instructions (for example, small video games, a restaurant emulator, a link shortener, etc.). Coding tasks are tied to short lectures that explain Core Java theory piece by piece.

CodeGym students can write code in a professional development environment (a special plugin has been created for this), directly on the website or in the CodeGym application for Android. The coolest feature is the automatic code validator. It checks the student’s solution, and if something goes wrong, offers advice on how to correct it. The database of such tips and hints in the course is simply huge and is constantly updated. Even if these tips don’t help, the course allows you to ask for help from the local Java community, where either other students or someone from the course team will help you. In addition to the course itself, the site has a Java Blog with many interesting articles on programming, as well as a free “games” section where novice programmers can try their hand at creating classic video games.

4. Codecademy

With Codecademy you can choose from different free online coding courses. You can choose your own topics of interest, learning pace, and study plan and learn to code for free. You can dive right into the courses of your choice after signing up for free, however, Codecademy offers you to upgrade to a paid membership if you want to learn advanced subjects. One of the top courses from Codecademy is Why Learn How to Build Websites? which is one of the highly-rated online coding courses for beginners who want to start with web development.

5. Khan Academy

Khan Academy is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide free, world-class education to people all over the world. Khan Academy offers a wide variety of free coding courses for beginners that are language-specific and cover the basics. Their programming courses’ list consists of the following courses which can help you learn to code for free:

6. MIT Open Courseware

MIT Open Courseware offers a plethora of intermediate and advanced-level courses that you can explore once you have already got hang of the basics. They offer you a chance to learn about the complex concepts of coding and programming from MIT professors for free. Other than that, they offer an introductory course Introduction to Computer Science and Programming which is a favourite choice for beginners.

FAQs: Let’s Answer Some of Your Frequently Asked Questions!

People starting in the field of coding and programming have a lot of what, how, and why questions in their minds. But we have already got you covered. Let’s answer some of the budding questions you might have in your minds.

1. What coding language does Google use?

There is no single coding language that Google uses. Due to the open development environment of Google, it uses a number of different languages that are better at performing different functions.

2. What coding language should I learn first?

You can choose any language that you wish to learn but if you are a beginner then starting with Python is going to be the right choice for you because it is widely used and easy-to-understand.

3. How will coding remain relevant in the future?

Coding is always going to remain a basic life skill. It is not only important for computer programming but it is important for problem-solving, logical thinking, designing and so much more.

4. What is the best site to learn how to code?

There are multiple good websites that offer online courses for coding and programming including, Udemy, Codecademy, Khan Academy, etc. You can read our section on online courses above where we have discussed the best courses offered by these websites.

5. How can I improve my programming skills?

You can improve your programming skills by taking courses to understand all the concepts of coding and programming as well as by practising your skills. Practice to write your codes and read codes written by others until you perfect your skills.

6. What are some of the best ways to learn programming?

The best way to learn programming is to work on your basics. Take online courses, tutorials, and read blogs to understand the basics of programming really well, most of these resources are easily available for free. Once that is sorted, you can channel your passion for programming by taking advanced courses and certification and practising your skills.

Final Words

In conclusion, is coding the same as programming?

The general public might not be informed or do not care about the difference between coding and programming. Yet it does not rule out the importance of this distinction. This knowledge can be essential to help you with job search or communication with your coworkers in the field of software development.

If you’re only starting your way in the industry, understanding what is coding and what is programming is valuable knowledge. Hopefully, this article will help you to move your career forward and improve your skills.

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Ava Franklin

The author Ava Franklin

Ava Franklin is a content writer at GoodCore Software with five years of experience in the tech industry. She writes software development guides, app reviews, and articles on the latest technology trends.
Ava holds a degree in Digital Marketing and Communications along with a below-average track record in college theatre. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her dog, reading about current affairs, watching football, and fighting trolls on Twitter. She hopes to learn Korean and write a play someday.
Ava rates her tea-making skills as high as her writing abilities – she makes a mean cup of tea and her friends concur.

Rate this article!

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  1. Well Said, you have furnished the right information that will be useful to anyone at all time. Thanks for sharing your Ideas.

  2. Excellent article post it is really helpful. When I’m reading this article I will be able to clear the concept between programming and coding. The content on this site is really concise.

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