Application Programs vs System Programs

There are mainly two categories of programs i.e. application programs and system programs. A diagram that demonstrates their place in the logical computer hierarchy is as follows −

Computer Hierarchy

Application Programs

These programs perform a particular function directly for the users. Some of the common application programs include Email, web browsers, gaming software, word processors, graphics software, media player etc.

All of these programs provide an application to the end users, so they are known as application programs. For example: a web browser is used to find information while a gaming software is used to play games.

The requests for service and application communication systems used in an application by a programmer is known as an application program interface (API).

System Programs

The system programs are used to program the operating system software. While application programs provide software that is used directly by the user, system programs provide software that are used by other systems such as SaaS applications, computational science applications etc.

The attributes of system programming are −

  • Using system programming, a programmer can make assumptions about the hardware of the system that the program runs on.
  • A low level programming language is used in system programming normally. This is so that the programs can operate in low resource environments easily.
  • Most system programs are created to have a low runtime overhead. These programs may have small runtime library.
  • Some parts of the system programs may be directly written in assembly language by the programmers.
  • A debugger cannot be used on system programs mostly. This problem can be solved by running the programs in a simulated environment.

Some examples of system programs are operating system, networking system, web site server, data backup server etc.