I'm just about to ask a question on programming a microcontroller with my TI Launchpad, but i'm having problems with getting the terminology right. As when talking about programming in the question I am referring to downloading the program to the device, not the actual developing the program for the microcontroller. So my question is should we try to use the term programming to mean downloading the program to the microcontroller and then developing to mean writing code?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Shouldn't this be in the main section, not meta? It seems like a legitimate question relating to electrical engineering. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 3, 2011 at 21:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Olin Lathrop: I think it's meta if you make abstraction of the word "programming". \$\endgroup\$ Jul 4, 2011 at 9:14

3 Answers 3


I would suggest to define terms which you think may cause confusion at the beginning of your question, using your own definition. You'll see this often in documents like technical specifications, too. Even if your definition is not the standard one, at least everybody knows how to understand it in the question. You may get hints how to improve your question by using other terms.


"Programming" can be used both ways you described. Usually it's obvious from context which you mean. If not a few extra words should help, like "programming the code into the micro".

I also agree with stevenvh. If you think there is chance of confusion, define your terms as you are using them.


I am from the software side (and so are my students), so for us "programing" already has a meaning: the gut work of developing software (as opposed to the designing / devloping, which has a more high-level taste). So for the downloading we use the terms downloading, flashing, burning, shooting, transferring.

When you are from the other (EE) side, the word programming might already mean "putting bits in an EPROM using weirdly shaped high-voltage pulses" or something like that. So you will need to use other words for developing software.

So when you want to avoid confusion for a mixed audience you will have to make your own definition (as suggested) or carefully avoid the word "programming".

IME the same amount of confusion can arise for "assembly" and "assembler". Is this the language, the tool, or the person? And do "assembly" (as a language) and "machine language" mean the same thing? Different audiences will eract differently.


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