A software developer is a person or organization concerned with the facts of the software development process wider than design and coding, a somewhat broader scope of computer programming or a specialty of project managing including some aspects of software product management. This person may contribute to the overview of the project on the application level rather than component level or individual programming tasks. Software developers are often still guided by lead programmers but also encompasses the class of freelance software developers.
Other names which are often used in the same close context are software analyst and software engineer.
With time and a little luck, differences between system design, software development and programming are more apparent. Already in the current market place there can be found a segregation between programmers and developers, being that one who actually implements is not the same as the one who designs the class structure or hierarchy. Even more so that developers become systems architects, those who design the multi-leveled architecture or component interactions of a large software system. (see also Debate over who is a software engineer)
A 'programmer' can be celebrated just for writing code, but a 'developer' could be involved in wider aspects of the software development process such as:
- Participation in software product definition, including Business case or Gap analysis
- Requirements analysis
- Development and refinement of throw-away simulations or prototypes to confirm requirements
- Feasibility and Cost-benefit analysis, including the choice of application architecture and framework, leading to the budget and schedule for the project
- Implementation (e.g. installation, configuration, programming/customization, integration, data migration)
- Authoring of documentation needed by users and implementation partners etc.
- Testing, including defining/supporting acceptance testing and gathering feedback from pre-release testers
- Participation in software release and post-release activities, including support for product launch evangelism (e.g. developing demonstrations and/or samples) and competitive analysis for subsequent product build/release cycles
In a large company there may be employees whose sole responsibility may consist of only one of the phases above. In smaller development environments, a few, or even a single individual might handle the complete process.