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Software Development vs Software Engineering: An In-Depth Comparison

Terms software development and software engineering are often confusing—even some IT professionals consider them the same. They may be closely interconnected but are entirely different as far as scope is concerned.

In general, the difference lies in the process: in software development, developers are engaged to create computer programs, passing through many phases to evolve a way of building products that possess technical specifications for better user needs. Software engineering then deals with developing software, applying engineering principles along the way.

In this read, we’re going to learn several key differences in terms of role, the project involved, experience, and skill set—all beneficial things needed to land in any software or IT job.



Software Development

Software Engineering

Definition of Terms

Is the actual building of the software across different types of computers

Applies engineering principles from designing to maintenance

Roles and Responsibilities

Examine project update to make software operational

Implementation and improvement of quality

Products Used

Apps and programs

Operating systems and approaches

Streams in Education

Software Programming, Computer Science (Code or Coding courses)

Software Programming, Software Engineering, Computer Science

Skills Required

Must be up-to-date with programming and computer science technologies

Developmental tasks using open source tools and projects

Job Prospects

Hardware engineer, information research scientist, network architect, programmer, support specialist, web coder

Video game creator, Internet application engineer, security measures engineer, computer network engineer

Comparing Software Development and Software Engineering by Definition

The development process of software is one that involves a series of computer science activities: conceiving, creating, designing, installing, and supporting software. The first way to see it is that programmers may or may not necessarily be engineers. When one “engineers software,” the process involves design, development, and maintenance. And it addresses the issues of the software when it exceeds timelines, budget for software development, and during the reduced level of quality.

So how do we compare? What’s the difference between software development and software engineering?

By definition: 

  • Software engineering is the process of applying engineering principles by a professional for the computer software right from designing to development and maintenance.
  • Software development is the method of building software that runs across different types of computers.

The entire development process of developing software is an activity that can be solitary while software engineering is a collaborative activity within a team.  As to tasks, software development is all about writing program and code, while in software engineering, the other components of the hardware. When it comes to tools, developers use readymade ones to create apps, whereas software engineering tools are created to develop software. 

Software development has the scope to do everything that a software engineer does, whereas software engineering has a scope to address the issues on a much larger scale.

Software Developer vs Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities

Software Developer vs Software Engineer Roles and Responsibilities | Laneways.Agency

Both engineers and developers remain integral in the development process. The difference between software development and software engineering becomes clear from the job description and responsibilities. 

What does the work entail?

As a software engineer, your job is on the implementation and improvement of quality. The core competence of software engineers must be to work with languages, code, and apply engineering principles.

As a software developer, the job requires examining project updates. With these responsibilities, he must strive for perfection to elevate the effectiveness of operating strengths.

Software engineers are professional experts who apply engineering techniques but developers are not fully equipped with it and are dependent on engineers. But here, it is worth mentioning that developers have a vast space to be creative because they have to develop and design the required programs.

As software engineers or coder adapts to engineering principles and concepts to develop software. They are often active in the software development life cycle (SDLC) and connect the technological solutions based on the client’s requirements. On the contrary, software developers put all their creative talent responsibly for the completion of the programs. They have an imaginary concept to run the software that is created through co programmers. Throughout the software development life cycle, technical guidance is a must.

We build custom software with modern solutions in mind for any business and sizes!

We build custom software with modern solutions in mind for any business and sizes!

What products do software engineers and developers make?

Software engineers build tools on which software developers rely on to perform their activities.

Software engineers create systems and software while applying mathematical analysis and the principles of science. These things can be like:

On the other hand, for developers, software field is on apps and programs. The development tasks are with a lesser scope as far as applicability is concerned because the application is confined to one task or a particular requirement.

Software development and software engineering streams in education

The streams in education for the people interested in developing software are enormous. If you want to follow the stream of software engineers, you can choose from the multiple options that comprise of studying software programming, software engineering, or computer science.

Software development and software engineering streams in education Software Developer vs Software Engineer | Laneways.Agency

The courses in programming are usually provided as a must at the bachelor’s or associates’ level. If you are one student who is eager to take up software engineering programs, you can pursue it at the bachelor’s or master’s level. Software engineering programs are comprehensive and longer too.

If you want to be a software engineer, know that the profession has a dynamic nature but you’ll be able to learn various entry points to become one. This can be with an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, and coding boot camp which is relatively a new stream for people who want to be software engineers.

Software engineering focuses on a particular stage to specialize, yet the title can have varied functions; whereas a developer essentially studies code or coding, a single component of the software development life cycle.

Skills required and job prospects for software developers and engineers

In software engineering, the primary skill required by you is the know-how in developmental tasks using open source tools and projects. You can work in a number of fields as software engineers—creating video games, developing internet applications, running computer networks, or implementing security measures for an organization. Software engineers need to have these:

Software Development vs Software Engineering: An In-Depth Comparison | Laneways.Agency

In software development, developers must be up-to-date with programming and computer science technologies. You can work as a hardware engineer, information research scientist, network architect, programmer, support specialist, or web coder.

Core concerns in software technology

Full-Stack Developer - Back End and Front End Programming Expert Software Development Industry | Laneways.Agency
With the rapid advancement of technology, things can be very demanding and there can be new things to learn. There is an added pressure for engineers and developers to leverage future technology development. There can be a number of concerns:

However, with best practices like thorough checking, effective management, and proper evaluation, software engineers and software developers can mitigate these concerns all while keeping into consideration the demands of both the company and the customer.

Frequently Asked Questions!

#1 Who earns more: software engineer or developer?

Interrelated but not interchangeable, the two titles earn varied salary depending on company offering, your experiences, and a particular set of skills. But with an engineering job title, being more technical tends to earn a bit more.

#2 Is software engineering or computer science better?

There is no definitive answer as each discipline has its own focus when it comes to theory and practice. While some aspects overlap, the former tends to be more theoretical while the latter is more applied.

#3 What is the difference between IT and software development?

IT is broad but basically, it’s a catch-all term for the operation of all systems and ensures software development work together.

#4 Can a software developer become a software engineer?

After gaining ample experience, software developers subsequently take on the roles and responsibilities of an engineer such as managing system-scale analysis and designs.


Software engineers and software developers are the two driving forces of perfect software, having their specific roles and areas of functioning. It is for the organizations to determine their needs and select the people with relevant skills for the success of the company.

Know more about other software-related topics. Browse through Laneways Software & Digital blogs today.

Jerome Rault

Jerome Rault

Cloud-based technology advisor, consultant, and investor. CEO Laneways Software & Digital

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