Key difference: A software developer is a person concerned with facets of the software development process. Their job includes designing, implementing, and testing the software. A software engineer, on the other hand, is a practitioner of software engineering. They apply the principles of engineering to the design, development, maintaining, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that make computers or anything containing software work.
Many claim that the titles of software engineer and software developer are the same; its just some companies prefer to call their employees software engineers, while others use software developers. However, this is not entirely the case. The jobs of software engineers and software developers are similar, but they do have small differences as well.
A software developer is a person concerned with facets of the software development process. Their job includes designing, implementing, and testing the software. A software engineer, on the other hand, is a practitioner of software engineering. They apply the principles of engineering to the design, development, maintaining, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that make computers or anything containing software work. Hence it can be claimed that the job of a software engineer has a bigger scope.
A software developer develops stand-alone software, which is more than just a simple program. He gets involved with all phases of the development, design and coding. He takes part in design, computer programming, or software project management. A developer may contribute to the overview of the project on the application level rather than component-level or individual programming tasks. Under the 15-0000 Computer and Mathematical Occupations Major Group, software developers can be classified into one of 3 titles:
- 15-1131 Computer Programmers
- 15-1132 Software Developers, Applications
- 15-1133 Software Developers, Systems Software
A developer's job includes:
- Software design
- Actual core implementation (programming which is often the most important portion of software development)
- Other required implementations (e.g. installation, configuration, customization, integration, data migration)
- Participation in software product definition, including business case or gap analysis
- Requirements analysis
- Development and refinement of throw-away simulations or prototypes to confirm requirements
- Feasibility and cost–benefit analysis, including the choice of application architecture and framework, leading to the budget and schedule for the project
- Authoring of documentation needed by users and implementation partners etc.
- Testing, including defining/supporting acceptance testing and gathering feedback from pre-release testers
- Participation in software release and post-release activities, including support for product launch evangelism (e.g. developing demonstrations and/or samples) and competitive analysis for subsequent product build/release cycles
A software engineer, on the other hand, is someone who can apply the principles of engineering, computer science and mathematical principles to the design and development of the software. However, before the mid-1960s, the term software engineer did not exist. They were often clubbed with computer programmers or software developers. Even now, the definition and job description of a software engineer is under debate. The main argument against the title is that a software engineer is not really a real engineer, as he can’t be grouped with civil, electrical, electronics, mechanical, and other engineering professions. The argument for the title claims that as the engineers’ task is the building of software from scratch, it seemed logical to dub them as software engineers. After all, that is what engineers do: design, and build.