Difference Between Programming and Coding

What exactly is the difference between programming and coding? The other day, one of my friends who is not from a computer science background, asked me this question.

Even after learning many different programming languages and doing several projects, I could not answer him correctly. I said both are the same. But why do we use two different terms, if both are the same? That led me to some research, and I thought I’d share what I found.

It’s actually not that complicated.  And their definitions allow for a lot of overlap. We often recognize the terms coding and programming as synonymous because both are often used interchangeably.

So what is the difference between programming and coding? Coding is the act of expressing programmatic ideas in computer language. Programming is crafting ideas that can be executed repeatedly by a machine, not necessarily a computing device.

While both the terms are synonymous with each other and are often used interchangeably, there’s a little more to it than that. So, let’s dive in a little deeper and find out what the real differences are.

What is Coding?

Coding simply means writing codes, and it is used to implement the initial steps of computer programming. A person who writes code is referred to as a coder. A coder translates logic into a language that the machine will understand.

We know that computers can not understand human language. The only language that a computer can understand is the binary language, which consists only of 0s and 1s (or True and False).

It is very difficult for humans to write instructions directly in the binary language. So, how do we give instructions to the computer? For that purpose, we seek the help of a programming language.

A programming language is a formal language, which comprises a set of instructions that produce various kinds of output. It is less difficult for humans to write the instructions in a programming language, compared to the machine language (binary language).

The instructions (code) we write in a programming language will not make any sense to a computer machine unless it is converted to binary language. We use compilers or interpreters for that purpose. The high-level code gets converted into 0s and 1s during compilation.

The act of writing the code in a programming language is commonly called coding. The set of instructions that we write is known as code. However, we don’t use the word ‘coder’ often in the technology field. ‘Programmer’ or ‘Developer’ are the terms that are commonly used by technology geeks.

It is almost the same as programming, but coding is a bit more specific purpose. Programming is a lot more generic thing. Now, let’s take a look at what programming is in a bit more detail.

So what is Programming then?

The term programming is used in a much broader sense. Programming is the common term used to describe the process of feeding a machine with a set of instructions to perform.

Programming is the process of creating and developing an executable machine program that performs a set of instructions, without occurring any errors. A programmer creates things, develops logic, and analyzes a problem.

Programming is to conceptualize and analyze solutions to problems, and then determine how these problems should be solved. It is the bigger picture that involves everything from compiling and debugging to testing and implementation.

Programming is the basis of communication between human thoughts and machine-level outputs, and these are generally consisting of complex structures. They analyze and conceptualize the different aspects of the problem and produce the correct machine outputs accordingly.

Almost all people on this planet do some kind of programming. You may have used remote control devices of air conditioners.

When you turn on your air conditioner, you can set it to a particular temperature, let’s say 24 degrees. When the temperature is 24 degrees, the air conditioner gets automatically turned off. That is an example of programming that we all do.

In this scenario, you are programming the air conditioner through the remote control to do certain tasks. That is just the core concept of programming. It is the process of instructing something to do some tasks, when and how you want to get it done.

Even though the word programming sounds geeky, it is just a process that we all do usually to get some tasks done. We see that a lot in our day-to-day life.

But in this example, the remote control can’t simply control the air conditioner. Some kind of code is working behind the scenes when you press the keys of the remote. Someone wrote amazing code so that we can control the air conditioner by just pressing the buttons.

So, the person who created the instructions for the air conditioner, and who created the method for entering those instructions, coded the instructions in such a way, that gave you the tools to program them.

Coding is the process of creating instructions. Programming is taking those instructions and making the target obey them. That is the difference between both.


I saw some articles and videos saying programming and coding are very different things, and it is difficult to learn programming than to learn to code. I don’t agree with that at all.

If you search “what is the difference between programming and coding” on Google, a few of the top results say that they are way too different, and it is very difficult to learn computer programming. 

I’m writing this article to give you an overview of the differences between programming and coding, but by avoiding the wrong information that those articles highlight.

We use several terms like programming, software development, coding, scripting, etc., interchangeably for almost the same things. Even though there are some slight differences between all these terms, most often they represent the same thing.

Don’t get overwhelmed by these terminologies. It is practical and easy to become a programmer as well as a coder. You might be wearing both these hats at the same time in most cases. We use those terms blindly without actually knowing what they mean or what they do.

Now that you are here, I recommend you that don’t go too much into these terminologies. You can explore them quite in-depth. But, the best thing to do is to stop worrying about these things and start learning a programming language.

If you are interested in computer programming or coding, I recommend you start learning Python. Python is a programming language that is easy to learn, very popular, and powerful.

You really should check out this article on Python Basics. I spend many hours over a month working on this giving you the perfect introduction to programming with Python.

What do you think about the difference between programming and coding? Let me know your thoughts on this article. If you have any doubts or queries, feel free to put them down in the comments section. I will be happy to respond.

Share this article with your technology-geek friends so that they will also get to know the exact difference between programming and coding.

Coding and programming are two such synonymous terms that almost mean the same thing, but there are yet quite a few differences from each other. Programming is the broader aspect of coding.

Now you know!

Ashwin Joy

I'm the face behind Pythonista Planet. I learned my first programming language back in 2015. Ever since then, I've been learning programming and immersing myself in technology. On this site, I share everything that I've learned about computer programming.

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