Software Engineer or Programmer?


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Thread: Software Engineer or Programmer?

  1. #1
    Kevin Guest

    Software Engineer or Programmer?


    Hello,

    I have never been into titles, sanitation engineers are garbage men and software
    engineers are programmers. Microsoft and probably others have 'Distinguished
    Engineers', what in the world is that?

    When someone says they are a 'Software Engineer', I would like to ask, "Really,
    what engineering principles do you bring to software development?".

    Other than that just being a smart-*** comment, it started me thinking of
    what someone would say. Are there valid engineering principles that apply
    to software development? Are there industry distinctions between a programmer,
    developer, engineer, etc.? Or are they all just titles to feed someones ego?

    Thanks for any comments or enlightenment,
    Kevin


  2. #2
    EM Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    Hi Kevin:

    As far as I know, a Software Programmer is the one who, performs the programming
    or implementing part of the SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle). On the
    other hand a Software Engineer is capable of handling every phase of SDLC
    and thus called an Engineer. A Developer is somewhere in between Programmer
    and Engineer.

    Hope this helps,
    EM


    "Kevin" <kevjv@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >
    >Hello,
    >
    >I have never been into titles, sanitation engineers are garbage men and

    software
    >engineers are programmers. Microsoft and probably others have 'Distinguished
    >Engineers', what in the world is that?
    >
    >When someone says they are a 'Software Engineer', I would like to ask, "Really,
    >what engineering principles do you bring to software development?".
    >
    >Other than that just being a smart-*** comment, it started me thinking of
    >what someone would say. Are there valid engineering principles that apply
    >to software development? Are there industry distinctions between a programmer,
    >developer, engineer, etc.? Or are they all just titles to feed someones

    ego?
    >
    >Thanks for any comments or enlightenment,
    >Kevin
    >



  3. #3
    MarkN Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    I use to work for EDS and (if I remember right) we had to quit using the term
    "Software Engineer" because no one had engineering credentials. I'm not
    really sure what one would need in the software world to be a software engineer.

    I typically think of software engineers as those who use a low(er) level
    language (i.e. C++) and are more concerned with how fast a program runs and
    less of how maintainable it is and just working out the bottlenecks. They
    can write their own compiler, etc and have a CS degree.

    I have dealt with companies that have software engineers. They seem to be
    the ones doing the design and coding. They ask to talk to our engineers
    but we have nary a one.


    Mark

    "Kevin" <kevjv@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >
    >Hello,
    >
    >I have never been into titles, sanitation engineers are garbage men and

    software
    >engineers are programmers. Microsoft and probably others have 'Distinguished
    >Engineers', what in the world is that?
    >
    >When someone says they are a 'Software Engineer', I would like to ask, "Really,
    >what engineering principles do you bring to software development?".
    >
    >Other than that just being a smart-*** comment, it started me thinking of
    >what someone would say. Are there valid engineering principles that apply
    >to software development? Are there industry distinctions between a programmer,
    >developer, engineer, etc.? Or are they all just titles to feed someones

    ego?
    >
    >Thanks for any comments or enlightenment,
    >Kevin
    >



  4. #4
    simon Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?

    Kevin,

    Software engineers do more than simply programming. As EM pointed out, they
    are capable of performing all tasks of the SDLC. Furthermore, they
    understand what exactly going on "under the hook" of the program they wrote.
    Software engineers know beyond how to use an IDE to write program, and they
    usually have a computer science or engineering degree. And the most
    important of them all, software engineers get higher salary than
    programmers, which is a very tangible difference. =)

    Microsoft use "Distinguished Engineers". Other companies use "Principal
    Programmers". These are simply a way to honor them for their professional
    experience. Many people do not want to advance into management and the
    companies do not want to continue to call them programmers.

    By the way, ego is not a bad thing, as long as you don't let it goes over
    your head.

    Just my $0.02.

    simon.


    "Kevin" <kevjv@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:3c8d1601$1@10.1.10.29...
    >
    > Hello,
    >
    > I have never been into titles, sanitation engineers are garbage men and

    software
    > engineers are programmers. Microsoft and probably others have

    'Distinguished
    > Engineers', what in the world is that?
    >
    > When someone says they are a 'Software Engineer', I would like to ask,

    "Really,
    > what engineering principles do you bring to software development?".
    >
    > Other than that just being a smart-*** comment, it started me thinking of
    > what someone would say. Are there valid engineering principles that apply
    > to software development? Are there industry distinctions between a

    programmer,
    > developer, engineer, etc.? Or are they all just titles to feed someones

    ego?
    >
    > Thanks for any comments or enlightenment,
    > Kevin
    >




  5. #5
    Jeff Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    I still work at EDS, and we were called "Systems Engineers" until 1998. Some
    groups still use the old titles. The new job codes are Information Analyst,
    Information Specialist, Senior Information Specialist, Systems Architect,
    and Enterprise Architect.

    The idea behind the progression at EDS is that as you progress from IA to
    IS to SIS and so on, coding becomes a lesser and lesser part of your job.
    You are still expected to be able to get into the code, but you move more
    into leading the technical parts of the project and seeing the "big picture"
    rather than spending all your time at the lower levels. In theory, someone
    who is basically nothing more than a coder should be an Information Analyst
    and would have a very hard time getting above the Information Specialist
    level.

    Most people think the actual job titles are pretty hokey. Systems Engineer
    sounded cool, at least. Most people still call us SEs. I tell people outside
    EDS that I am a software developer. I just don't think Information Specialist
    would convey what the heck I do to anyone else.

    "MarkN" <mnuttall@nospam.com> wrote:
    >
    >I use to work for EDS and (if I remember right) we had to quit using the

    term
    >"Software Engineer" because no one had engineering credentials. I'm not
    >really sure what one would need in the software world to be a software engineer.
    >
    >I typically think of software engineers as those who use a low(er) level
    >language (i.e. C++) and are more concerned with how fast a program runs

    and
    >less of how maintainable it is and just working out the bottlenecks. They
    >can write their own compiler, etc and have a CS degree.
    >
    >I have dealt with companies that have software engineers. They seem to

    be
    >the ones doing the design and coding. They ask to talk to our engineers
    >but we have nary a one.
    >
    >
    >Mark
    >
    >"Kevin" <kevjv@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >>
    >>Hello,
    >>
    >>I have never been into titles, sanitation engineers are garbage men and

    >software
    >>engineers are programmers. Microsoft and probably others have 'Distinguished
    >>Engineers', what in the world is that?
    >>
    >>When someone says they are a 'Software Engineer', I would like to ask,

    "Really,
    >>what engineering principles do you bring to software development?".
    >>
    >>Other than that just being a smart-*** comment, it started me thinking

    of
    >>what someone would say. Are there valid engineering principles that apply
    >>to software development? Are there industry distinctions between a programmer,
    >>developer, engineer, etc.? Or are they all just titles to feed someones

    >ego?
    >>
    >>Thanks for any comments or enlightenment,
    >>Kevin
    >>

    >



  6. #6
    Michael Gautier Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    Both from my experience working for actual engineers, working as a programmer
    and now a developer as well as researching/reading on the topic myself, I
    have identified the following for PC based applications development shops
    I've worked:

    Credibile "Software Engineers" that I've worked with and for were guys with
    degrees in an actual engineering field (Mechanical, Chemical or Electrical
    [most common]) and solid programming capabilities in C++ and solid understanding
    of most technical topics (networking, hardware, etc). Responsible for company
    crown jewels like critical credit card processing, financial and security
    components. They can traverse from the lowest levels to the abstraction.

    Developers may or may not have a CS degree, but through experience and maturity
    of skills, can design, implement and maintain small to mid level applications
    of a non critical nature (i.e. customer database updating versus credit card
    processing or traffic light systems). Can use high level languages to accomplish
    most business application development tasks. Can be an affordable substitute
    for engineers on some tasks.

    Programmers maintain and code to instruction/supervision. Some say that your
    best programmers (developers) should maintain, others say it is a job for
    entry level people. Other trends I've witnessed recently in PC based development
    that maintainence given to permanent people who are the last ones in on a
    new technology (usually 6 months to two years after introduction).





  7. #7
    Kevin Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    Thanks to everyone for their comments on this.

    I noticed the Devx poll is on this subject, It will be interesting to see
    how that comes out.

    "Kevin" <kevjv@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >
    >Hello,
    >
    >I have never been into titles, sanitation engineers are garbage men and

    software
    >engineers are programmers. Microsoft and probably others have 'Distinguished
    >Engineers', what in the world is that?
    >
    >When someone says they are a 'Software Engineer', I would like to ask, "Really,
    >what engineering principles do you bring to software development?".
    >
    >Other than that just being a smart-*** comment, it started me thinking of
    >what someone would say. Are there valid engineering principles that apply
    >to software development? Are there industry distinctions between a programmer,
    >developer, engineer, etc.? Or are they all just titles to feed someones

    ego?
    >
    >Thanks for any comments or enlightenment,
    >Kevin
    >



  8. #8
    MarkN Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    I wish they had a write in. I believe most titles mean little outside the
    company issuing them. When people ask what I do I really don't know what
    term to use because I don't know what image it will conjure up. It usually
    consists of serveral explainations and definitions.




    "Kevin" <kevjv@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >
    >Thanks to everyone for their comments on this.
    >
    >I noticed the Devx poll is on this subject, It will be interesting to see
    >how that comes out.
    >
    >"Kevin" <kevjv@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >>
    >>Hello,
    >>
    >>I have never been into titles, sanitation engineers are garbage men and

    >software
    >>engineers are programmers. Microsoft and probably others have 'Distinguished
    >>Engineers', what in the world is that?
    >>
    >>When someone says they are a 'Software Engineer', I would like to ask,

    "Really,
    >>what engineering principles do you bring to software development?".
    >>
    >>Other than that just being a smart-*** comment, it started me thinking

    of
    >>what someone would say. Are there valid engineering principles that apply
    >>to software development? Are there industry distinctions between a programmer,
    >>developer, engineer, etc.? Or are they all just titles to feed someones

    >ego?
    >>
    >>Thanks for any comments or enlightenment,
    >>Kevin
    >>

    >



  9. #9
    Job Seeker in NJ Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    Somebody told me that in Canada (or maybe just Ontario, I am not sure) it
    is illegal to call oneself an "engineer" unless you have the Canadian equivalent
    of the "Professional Engineer" certification. Thus, you can't call yourself
    a "Microsoft Certified System Engineer" but you can still use the acronym
    MCSE.

    "MarkN" <mnuttall@nospam.com> wrote:
    >
    >I use to work for EDS and (if I remember right) we had to quit using the

    term
    >"Software Engineer" because no one had engineering credentials. I'm not
    >really sure what one would need in the software world to be a software engineer.
    >
    >I typically think of software engineers as those who use a low(er) level
    >language (i.e. C++) and are more concerned with how fast a program runs

    and
    >less of how maintainable it is and just working out the bottlenecks. They
    >can write their own compiler, etc and have a CS degree.
    >
    >I have dealt with companies that have software engineers. They seem to

    be
    >the ones doing the design and coding. They ask to talk to our engineers
    >but we have nary a one.
    >
    >
    >Mark



  10. #10
    Job Seeker in NJ Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    "Michael Gautier" <gautier_michael@hotmail.com> wrote:
    >Credibile "Software Engineers" that I've worked with and for were guys with
    >degrees in an actual engineering field (Mechanical, Chemical or Electrical
    >[most common]) and solid programming capabilities in C++ and solid understanding
    >of most technical topics (networking, hardware, etc). Responsible for company
    >crown jewels like critical credit card processing, financial and security
    >components. They can traverse from the lowest levels to the abstraction.
    >


    As somebody who has a degrees in both EE and CS, I can tell you that my EE
    courses were more difficult than my CS courses. Also, engineering design
    principles ("thinking like an engineer" I call it) were stressed a lot more.


    In fairness to CS, CS is more of an abstract field. You aren't dealing with
    materials that have set properties. You are dealing for the most part with
    very abstract mental constructs. When you construct an analog or a digital
    circuit, you have certain fixed constraints that you are working under that
    restrict what you can and can't do. When you design a program, your design
    possibilities are much more open ended and free form. The downside is that
    it is harder to apply "design rules" to software development. Perhaps this
    will change as the industry matures, but at this point it is still something
    that we as developers are struggling with.

    Look at all of the "design methodologies" that crop up every few months!
    From RAD to RUP to XP, it seems like we are still trying to figure out to
    put some structure into the software development process. Until that happens,
    I think that software engineering won't be a "true" engineering field like
    EE, CE, and ChemE.

  11. #11
    Gerald Nunn Guest

    Re: Software Engineer or Programmer?


    "Job Seeker in NJ" <job_seeker@nowhere.com> wrote in message
    news:3c9698ed$1@10.1.10.29...
    > Somebody told me that in Canada (or maybe just Ontario, I am not sure) it
    > is illegal to call oneself an "engineer" unless you have the Canadian

    equivalent
    > of the "Professional Engineer" certification. Thus, you can't call

    yourself
    > a "Microsoft Certified System Engineer" but you can still use the acronym
    > MCSE.


    It is true that you can't call yourself an engineer in Canada unless you
    really are one. I can't remember if it requires being a member of one of the
    professional engineering socities in every province or if having a degree
    from an accredited university is sufficient. I am a canadian with a degree
    in EE but have never actually done engineering in the classical sense having
    been in the military for a number of years then in software development.

    Gerald



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