‘development’, not ‘engineering’

I hear managers talk about “software engineers”, meaning people who do “engineering” on software. And I don’t like it. In my mind the analogy between software creation and hard engineering is completely broken.

In the agile world, software develops. Dictionary.com defines the intransitive verb to develop as “to grow by degrees into a more advanced or mature state.” And the transitive verb to develop, which is what developers do, means “to bring into being gradually.” Just so.

2 thoughts on “‘development’, not ‘engineering’

  1. But, doesn’t hard engineering “evolve by degrees into a more advanced state” too?

    I mean a car engine from a modern vehicle is more advanced/has evolved from an engine that is say 10 years old.

    If things in the engineering field didn’t evolve, you wouldn’t have any advancement.

    So perhaps ‘hard engineering’ is actually a form of development.

  2. Hi Brett, You’re right, of course. I guess I was hoping to point out that software creation is more to do with ‘product development’ than with production, construction or manufacturing (those parts of software production are more or less trivial, because we have compilers, linkers, CD burners etc to do them for us). The software developer’s job is therefore to design the product. Even hard engineering uses the term ‘product development’ here, for the same reasons I did above. I agree with you that generations of the same concept develop or evolve. And I add that any single product develops from concept to manufacturable commodity…

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