Web Development and Software Development are absolutely different

When I just started my career as a web developer, I often get confusing for both of the terms: web development or software development. Sometimes, I consider them the same though there are some differences.

Web Development

This term means the development of an application which:

  • Run on the server.

  • Accessed using web browsers: Google Chrome, Opera, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and the likes. You name it.

  • There is the server-side script – the codes which are executed on the server.  The developer usually writes such codes in PHP, Ruby, Java, or even Javascript (NodeJS).

  • There is the client-side script – the codes which are rendered on the client’s web browser. The developer writes such codes in a combination of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. On the modern day of web development, there are also some libraries or frameworks used there.

  • The data stored on the database on the server, usually. The database server can be the same server as the application codes or can be separated. This depends on the architecture of the application itself.

Software Development

Web Development is actually a subset of Software Development. This because the web application is a kind of software. However, people often associated the “Software Development” term to:

  • Desktop application or software that is not a web application and not a mobile one.

  • The developer of such applications usually writes the software using C or Basic or Java.

  • There is also the possibility of such a desktop application to use a database.

  • Usually, the software needs to be installed on the client’s PC/laptop.

  • If the application did not use a database, usually it saves the data on a file.

Which path to follow?

Personally, I follow the web development and mobile application development path. 

Though I often work on a desktop application project when I am still in university, pursuing my Computer Science degree.

At that time I mostly used C# and Visual Basic, armed with Visual Studio 2008. We use Microsoft SQL Server as the database or Microsoft Access if the project did not run with such complicated requirements.

However, as the open source movement keeps growing, suddenly my interest changes into web development area in 2010.

Still, in that same year 2010, I got my first job as front-end developer then continue as a PHP developer and I followed the path to where am I now as full stack web developer specializing in Ruby on Rails.

What about the desktop application?

I think they still have some places on the market though they are not as big as their web or mobile counterpart.

As I observed, only a medium to the large corporation is still using that kind of desktop applications. However, there’s no guarantee that they will stick with the desktop.

I believe, soon they will make a move to the web or mobile application.

Ever since the Android smartphone and iOS devices spread their domination over this world, I hardly notice any relatives of mine who still works on their desktop PC. 


For those who just begin the journey as a developer, most likely it’s better to focus on web development, especially web development that focused on mobile devices.

Categories: Web Development  

Tags: software development   web development