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Coding vs. Programming: What’s the difference?

Welcome to this article where I aim to unravel the semantics surrounding an age-old question (in terms of the digital age at least), what is the difference between coding and programming?
This article will enable you to appreciate the fundamental differences and synergies between coding and programming, whilst dispelling the wrongly-held notion that they are one and the same! 

It will also help you to understand how coding plays a crucial role in the overall programming process, how you can easily get into coding and how it can contribute to your future career prospects. 

Here we go…

So, let's start with the basics and define the terms. “Official” definitions of coding and programming, in the information technology sense, go something like this:

  • Coding - taking what we want to say in one language, (let’s say English) and translating it into a computing language, such as Ruby or Python in order to feed commands into a computer, in a language that the computer understands and can therefore use to subsequently perform a task. In plain terms, the action of coding is simply writing a ‘script’ that will execute a specific action.
  • Programming - is the implementation of logic to facilitate scripts into computing operations and functions. It occurs in one or more coding languages, which differ by application, domain and programming model. The action of programming is to fit together elements of code to create a program, this can be, for example, the development of an app or computer program.

From these definitions we understand that anyone who writes and implements code as part of the solution in order to create an application or program is a programmer, whilst anyone who understands coding language and how to operate it is a coder.

While both the terms are synonymous with each other, and are often used interchangeably, they are clearly different - in fact coding can be regarded as just one aspect of programming.

Here’s a handy infographic which can help illustrate the key differences:
Coding Vs Programming Web Infographic 2021.png 503.08 KB

So, do I have to learn how to code to become a programmer?

In a word, yes.

Coding is an essential aspect of becoming a fully fledged programmer. In most instances, coding is a relatively simple way to solve problems related to a broader programming project, such as building a multi-page responsive website, or a video game. 

There are numerous use cases for coding within programming. One of the most common is in the form of applications. These are programs that you use on your computer, smartphone or laptop - including the browser you’re currently using to read this article! 

How can I learn more about coding?

Finding a platform to begin learning a new skill like coding is not difficult today given the plethora of online resources available, such as free to access online courses, webinars and workshops... It’s time for the inevitable, shameless plug. 

At Le Wagon we offer a variety of free workshops specifically designed for beginners, so even if you have literally no coding know-how, you can make your first foray into the world of coding and computer programming to learn some of the essentials for free!

Check out our Events page to see our upcoming workshops.


Once you’ve covered the basics of coding, this will help you decide if you want to progress into one of our Web Development Bootcamps - a more advanced program teaching you the core concepts of programming and web development. 

You don't need any technical background to join our web development bootcamp. During the course, our students learn how to build robust and beautiful web applications by themselves, collaborate within a team of developers and adopt the technical workflow followed by successful startups.

Aside from technical skills, our students also learn how to think and solve problems like a developer by breaking complex problems into smaller ones. By the end of the course, they are able to learn a new programming language or framework by themselves, which is extremely important in the fast-paced environment of web development. 

How can coding help me advance my career?

After our bootcamps, you can kickstart your tech career in just a few months. At the end of the bootcamp, you are welcome to join our Career Week which gives you all the tools you need to take the next steps in your career, whether it’s finding your first job in tech, building a freelance career, or launching a start-up.

Our dedicated careers team will be on hand to help you prepare your personal profile, complete job applications, get ready for technical challenges and make a game plan for after the bootcamp!

Not only that, at Le Wagon every student and graduate becomes part of our fantastic Alumni community. It's the world's most active bootcamp network with more than 11,000 alumni, 160+ startups founded by alumni (raising more than $187M altogether) and over 1,000 teachers in web development and data science. Once you graduate from Le Wagon, you'll belong to this vibrant community, which will help keep you learning for life, alongside access to unique job and freelance opportunities.

If you want to find out more, you can check out our graduates page to hear from our alumni about their post-Bootcamp journeys and what a typical day looks like in their new careers.

I hope this article has helped inspire you to get into coding and learn more about how this amazing technical skill could change your life!
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