Many people use the terms scripting language and programming language interchangeably, but there are more distinctions between the two than you might realise. Although all scripting languages are programming languages, all programming languages are not scripting languages.
Earlier, programmers used programming languages to build PowerPoint, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word etc. However, as time passed, there arose a need to upgrade the programming languages to incorporate additional functionalities and provide an enhanced programming interface. Thus, scripting languages came into being.
Let us now look at some of the significant differences between a programming language and a scripting language.
- Programming language is a set of instructions that can be fed into a computer to achieve a specific output.
- Scripting language is a programming language supporting scripts written exclusively for a special runtime environment to automate a specific action/function execution.
- Programming languages are compressed into smaller packages that do not need to be interpreted by another language or application.
- Programming languages code when compiled creates binary code executable files also known as .exe files that take memory.
- Scripting languages do not create .exe executable files.
- Programming languages are made to make full-fledged code and software development easier.
- Scripting languages are made to make coding easier and faster.
- Programming languages codes are relatively difficult as many lines of code are required for a single function.
- Scripting languages code functions are easier as it requires only a few short and specific lines to be written.
Thus, writing a full-fledged code with programming languages usually takes a longer time to develop as more lines need to be written, while coding with a scripting language requires less time as smaller chunks need to be written.
- Programming languages are divided into five subcategories: First generation, Second generation, Third generation, Fourth generation, and Fifth generation.
- Scripting languages have only two subcategories: Server-side scripting languages and client-side scripting languages.
Conversion and hosting:
- Programming languages use a compiler, it is a one-shot conversion. They are self-executable; they do not require a host.
- Scripting languages, on the other hand, demand line-by-line conversion and require a host.
- Programming Languages are faster.
- Scripting languages are slower.
Reason: Compiled programs generally run faster than interpreted programs since compilers read and analyse the code at once and collectively report errors (if any).
An interpreter, however, reads and analyses a code line by line, and every time it detects an error, it stops addressing them one by one.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Programming Language:
- Programming languages are programmer-friendly. They are easy to write, debug and maintain.
- It provides a higher level of abstraction from machine languages.
- Less error-prone, easy to find and debug errors.
- Programming language results in better productivity and easy to learn
- It takes additional translation times to translate the source to machine code.
- Programs are comparatively slower than low-level programs.
- Compared to scripting language, they are generally less memory efficient.
- Cannot communicate directly with the hardware.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Scripting Language:
- They’re free and open source. As a result, anyone from anywhere on the planet can use it and contribute to it.
- If you are a beginner, they are a great way to start with programming languages, as they are quite easy to learn and code.
- They require less memory because no executable file is created.
- They are portable i.e. can run on any operating system.
- Scripting languages are slow as they demand line-by-line conversion.
- The interpreter in scripting languages analyses each statement line by line during execution, hence there aren’t many improvements to make the code run faster.
Now that we know what programming and scripting languages are, let’s create a table of differences for quick reference and recap.
|Scripting Languages||Programming Language|
|Scripting language is a programming language supporting scripts written exclusively for a special runtime environment to automate a specific action/function execution.||Programming language is a set of instructions that can be fed into a computer to achieve a specific output.|
|Scripting languages run inside another program.||Programming languages run independently of a parent program|
|Scripting languages are made to make coding easier and faster.||Programming languages are made to make full-fledged code and software development easier.|
|Scripting languages, on the other hand, demand line-by-line conversion.||Programming languages use a compiler, it is a one-shot conversion.|
|Python, Ruby, Rexx, Ruby, GameMonkey, etc., are some of the most widely used scripting languages.||C, C++, C#, Java, Basic, COBOL, and Pascal, are some programming languages.|
Frequently Asked Questions
What are scripting languages?
Scripting languages are mostly high-level languages that use interpreters to convert the codes written to machine language by executing the codes line by line during runtime.
What are the four types of programming language?
The four types of programming language are as follows:
- Functional Programming Language
- Procedural Programming Language
- Logic Programming Language
- Object-oriented Programming Language
Is Python a programming or scripting language?
Python is a high-level interpreted programming language referred to as one of the most popular scripting languages.
Is C++ a scripting language?
C++ is not a scripting language. It is standard high-level to middle-level object-oriented programming languages using compilers to compile the codes before execution.
What are compilers?
Compilers are programs that convert high-level or middle-level languages into machine language or machine code to allow the computers to read and then execute it.
What are interpreters?
What is the fastest scripting language?
PHP is one of the fastest scripting languages, and it is very popular as well. However, ASP is reported to be the fastest scripting language that is currently available.
What are the different types of scripting languages?
There are two types of scripting languages: server-side scripting language and client-side scripting language.
Overall, as we mentioned before, the execution process and environment are the primary differentiating factors between programming languages and scripting languages.
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So, now you know how programming languages differ from scripting languages, you’re ready to pick one for you. But again, you should keep in mind that the language you choose will depend entirely on your use case and what you wish to accomplish with it.
If you find yourself confused, don’t hesitate in visiting Coding Ninjas, where we have courses on programming languages including C++, Java, and such languages as Python, Ruby on Rails. We’ll ensure you reach to the top, no matter where you start from!
Written by: Aanchal Tiwari