Outlining The Difference Between Programming & Scripting language



Often people use the terms scripting language and programming language synonymously, but these two terms have more differences than you know of. Although all scripting languages are programming languages, all programming languages are not scripting languages.

Earlier, programming languages were written to build products such as PowerPoint, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Word, to name a few. 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.

The primary difference between a scripting language and a programming language is in their execution – programming languages use a compiler to convert the high-level programming languages into machine language, on the other hand, scripting languages use an interpreter. While a compiler compiles a code in a complete chunk, an interpreter compiles a code line by line.

Let us now look at some of the major differences between a programming language and a scripting language.


A programming language is essentially a formal language that combines a set of instructions that can be fed into the computer to generate a specific output. A scripting language is a programming language that supports scripts which are programs written exclusively for a special runtime environment to automate the execution of a specific action/function.


Programming languages are compiled into a more compact design that does not require to be interpreted by another language or application. Scripting languages are written in one language and interpreted within another program, for instance, JavaScript has to be incorporated within HTML which will then be interpreted by the Internet browser. Thus, programming languages run independently of a parent program, but scripting languages run inside another program.


Programming languages are designed to facilitate a full-fledged code and software development whereas scripting languages are specifically designed to make coding faster and much simpler.


Coding with programming languages is relatively difficult as many lines of code are required for a single function. Creating a code function with a scripting language is easier as it requires only a few short and specific lines to be written. Thus, writing a  full-fledged code with programming languages usually take 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

Since programming languages use a compiler, it is a one-shot conversion. Scripting languages, on the other hand, demand line by line conversion. Programming languages are self-executable; they do not require a host. Scripting languages require a host.


Compiled programs run generally run faster than interpreted programs since compilers read and analyze the code at once and report errors (if any) collectively. An interpreter, however, reads and analyzes a code line by line and every time it detects an error, it stops to address them one by one.

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C, C++, C#, Java, Basic, COBOL, and Pascal, are some examples of programming languages. JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, Rexx, Ruby, GameMonkey, etc., are some of the most widely used such languages.


Overall, as we mentioned before, the execution process and environment are the primary differentiating factors between programming languages and scripting languages. Programming languages are used to develop applications and such languages are used to write code that can enhance and control application behaviour.

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 like Python, Ruby on Rails. We’ll ensure you reach all the way to the top, no matter where you start from!

To read more about the best programming languages, click here.