A programmer, computer programmer or coder is someone who writes computer software. The term computer programmer can refer to a specialist in one area of computer programming or to a generalist who writes code for many kinds of software.
One who practices or professes a formal approach to programming may also be known as a programmer analyst. The term programmer can be used to refer to a software developer, software engineer, computer scientist, or software analyst. However, members of these professions typically possess other software engineering skills, beyond programming; for this reason, the term programmer is sometimes considered an insulting or derogatory oversimplification of these other professions.
This has sparked much debate amongst developers, analysts, computer scientists, programmers, and outsiders who continue to be puzzled at the subtle differences in these occupations. Within software engineering, programming (the implementation) is regarded as one phase in a software development process.
There is an ongoing debate on the extent to which the writing of programs is an art, a craft or an engineering discipline. In general, good programming is considered to be the measured application of all three, with the goal of producing an efficient software solution.
The discipline differs from many other technical professions in that programmers, in general, do not need to be licensed or pass any standardized (or governmentally regulated) certification tests in order to call themselves "programmers" or even "software engineers." However, representing oneself as a "Professional Software Engineer" without a license from an accredited institution is illegal in many parts of the world. However, because the discipline covers many areas, which may or may not include critical applications, it is debatable whether licensing is required for the profession as a whole. In most cases, the discipline is self-governed by the entities which require the programming.