What’s the difference between a hacker, a programmer and a developer

Here is an excerpt found in Jim Lanning’s journal. I thought it was quite interesting so I thought
I would share.

“You hear it all the time. Everywhere you go, before you start speaking to some wise ass who thinks he knows everything about software development, there will always be that one smarty-pants wannabe ‘software engineer’ who just doesn’t quite have a clue. He’s that guy who will go ahead and use the term HACKER, the term PROGRAMMER and the term DEVELOPER like they are all interchangable and as if there was no difference whatsoever.

And I know what you’re probably thinking. HUH? There’s a difference? Really? Gosh. Well guess what? There is a world of difference between these 3 terms, and most people usually get it wrong.. so don’t sweat it if you thought there wasn’t much of a difference either. It’s okay. I won’t fly down to wherever you are and break your legs. It’s okay. 🙂

Actually, it’s only okay if you let me enlighten you so that you can stop making this toopid toopid mistake that many many n00bs in the field make.

The term HACKER – Someone who does not follow any kind of formal procedure and just starts building things randomly albeit usually in a creative way. Usually some tool is the result of this furious inspiration of activity.

The term PROGRAMMER – A term used to describe someone who wrote code in the 80’s/90’s. Someone who focuses on writing code, doesn’t have much of a process.

the term DEVELOPER – A developer is someone who is involved in the complete process of software development. This includes testing, taking specifications, support, completely understanding the business. This is someone who does research and stays up-to-date/abreast new developments in the technology field.

The term Developer is for the wizard who knows his craft. Programmer is someone who writes code, and the term is pretty oldschool since not many people even walk around and call themselves a programmer anymore. 🙂 And finally Hacker, well.. we’re all too familar with how this term was butchered by the general public collective as a cyber-criminal who breaks into systems with his wizardly black-hatish knowledge and summons all sorts of daemon’s whilst rooting your entire system to become yet another slave in his path for the ultimate thrill of knowing who’s most powerful. But of course, you and I both know that a real hacker does no such thing. A real hacker builds. And builds, and builds.. and builds. And builds until something useful comes out of all that building and then that is where the satisfaction comes from.

So there you go. I’ve kindly painted a much clearer picture for your understanding pleasure. 🙂 Now off you go, a much more wiser engineer and before you open your mouth and get a few terms mixed up (and looking like a complete tool) you can always remember back to this post!

Adios Amigo Engineer la!

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