Software Development

What Is the Difference Between Software Engineering and Software Development?

Software has become a central part of our life now that we need it everywhere. We use software for all tasks, from sending our emails to dispensing our medication to controlling the most giant machines on earth. All businesses apply software, whether on a small or large scale. Supply chain-related business use software to automate processes and optimize operations. Fleet management uses software for fuel management, vehicle acquisition, and expanding the manager’s roles. Financial institutions also use software to solve critical accounting challenges. For all of the tasks mentioned above, software engineering and software development take place to design, develop and maintain the software. So then, what’s the difference between software engineering and software development?

1. The activities involved in software development differ from those involved in software engineering

Software development is executive in nature. The focus is on a single area that is paid attention to; and not the entire picture. This means that software development involves developing codes that later come to be part of the software developments cycle. A software engineer’s role is slightly different from a software developer’s. This is because, in software engineering, the principles of software development are designed and planned here. Unlike software development that does not need awareness of the ‘whole picture,’ software engineering is aware of things’ whole perspective. 

2. Who can take part in software development and who can do software engineering

Another difference in software development and software engineering lies in ‘who can become what?’ To become a software developer, just some little computer programming knowledge, I mean basic knowledge of programming required.  The developers design codes that may have performance and scalability analysis missing out. So then, anyone with basic programming knowledge can be a software developer.  On the other hand, having basic programming knowledge does not automatically qualify one to become a software engineer.  Special training is required to fulfil software engineering’s roles. The codes that the developer created are good but are not perming and lack scalability analysis. A software engineer now comes in and brings life to the codes already designed by the developer. Consequently, it simply means that not anyone can become a software engineer.  Instead, some special training is required and not just basic programming knowledge. 

3. Software development allows people the freedom that software engineering does not

As a software developer, your basic computer programming knowledge allows you to flex as much as you want. Whatever innovation helps you bring, that’s fine. On the other hand, a software engineer’s role is limited to one particular area of designing. However innovative and creative he might be, his job description only allows him to work in one area of specialization. So then, software development is flexible, with the developer allowed to do any work of creativity. However, software engineering only will enable engineers to focus on one specialized area. 

4. How work activity is achieved in software development and software engineering

Another feature that distinguishes software development if from software engineering, is how activities are achieved. In software development, the codes can be designed in a solitary activity, i.e., a software developer can work as a single person and perform the role of software developments. On the other hand, software engineering cannot be achieved as a solitary activity. A software engineer is part of a team of technocrats.  For software engineering roles to be fulfilled, a team and not an individual works together. 

5. The work process in software development varies from the process in software engineering

The work process involved in software development varies from the work process involved in software engineering. While software engineering involves a complete circle, software development is not a whole process.  There is an entire cycle of project development, and software development is just one of the processes involved. A software engineer, with his team, runs a whole process. Whatever a software developer leaves halfway, the software engineer can accomplish with his team. However, a software developer may not complete a process left halfway by the software engineer and his team.

6. Software development’s working style differs from software engineering’s working style

In software developments, a complete program is developed. With the knowledge of programming, the software developer suffices to develop an app. Software engineering, on the other hand, involves working on components. The software engineer works with a team and not solitarily to produce parts. These components, when integrated, result in the desired product. Because of the elements involved, the software engineer has to work with a team whose every member has a role in the whole project building process.

7. The dynamicity of software development differs from that of software engineering

Whatever a software engineer does, a software developer also does it, but on a smaller scale. Consequently, software developments allows time and space for creativity and innovation. A software developer thus knows and does lots of things on a smaller scale. Software engineering involves doing specialized jobs on large scopes. This means that they got to think and are left with little time to create or innovate anything new. The variation is apparent owing to the scopes of work.

8. Creation versus the usage of tools

As part of their work, software engineers design the tools need for software development. The software engineering team works together to come up with audiovisual tools for developing software. After this, software developers use engineered tools to create applications used in websites, desktops, computers, and mobile phones. This implies that while software developers only use software (for app development) designed by engineers, software engineers create and use software and hardware. The tools created by software engineers can either be software or hardware.

9. Tools created by software developers versus tools designed by software engineers

Another difference between software engineering and software developments is using of the tools designed by software developers and software engineers. Software development involves creating and designing tools (apps and programs are considered to be tools) that are applied in bringing out a specific desired task. Software engineering designs tools that have a wide array of applications and can be used for multiple tasks.


While we may think of software developments and software engineering to mean the same thing, the two are different. The most significant difference is seen in the scope. Software development does multiple tasks on more minor scales than software engineering that accomplishes specific tasks to larger extents. Consequently, software development allows room for creation and innovation. In contrast, software engineering does not have much room due to the need for software engineering research. While software developers write complete programs, software engineers work with components that are later integrated to make something real. Examples of software development companies in USA are Clocktower Media, Quantic Cloud, Frshr Technologies, CompuSmart Solutions, and Freya Systems. Join any of these and equip yourself with what it takes to be a software developer.

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