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 that 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.
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 addressing them one by one.
Programming languages work with full-length code and are capable of running independently, being self-executable, while a scripting language generally runs on small chunks of code and needs embedding into parent programs.
Scripting languages also depend on other platforms and need to be hosted. Programming languages create .exe files while scripting languages do not engage in the creation of .exe executable files.
Frequently Asked Questions
The four types of programming language are as follows:
Functional Programming Language: This type of programming language uses stored data and tries to avoid loops to allow various recursive functions. Functional programming is returning value-centric and tries to extract the required from functions.
Procedural Programming Language: These types of languages use sequential execution of statements leading to results. Generally, these programming languages use various variables, loops and multiple other elements, which makes them much more different in comparison to a functional programming language.
Logic Programming Language: Logic programming languages allow programmers to make declarative statements, which further promotes the consequential reasoning of the statements by machines.
Object-oriented Programming Language: This programming language analyses faults by separating targets into various objects or entities. Object-oriented programming is a programming paradigm that is used in the creation of objects and classes during the development of a programme.
Python is a high level interpreted programming language that can be referred to as one of the most popular scripting languages. It offers an object-oriented approach, translating the source codes with the help of an interpreter similar to other scripting languages. So yes, Python can be definitely classified as a scripting language.
C++ is not a scripting language. It is one of the standard high-level to middle-level object-oriented programming languages using compilers to compile the codes before execution. Unlike scripting languages, C++ uses this compiled chunk to analyse the entire code at once. C++ was created with the intention of developing a general-purpose programming language.
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. Compilers are much faster as they analyse the written codes at once before runtime in chunks, after compiled. C, C++ and Java use compilers to run codes.
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.
There are two types of scripting languages. Server-side scripting language and client-side scripting language.
Server-side scripting languages use huge resources from the servers and complete the processing in the server itself before sending plain pages to the client.
Client-side scripting language does not involve server processing and executes codes locally by downloading the entire application to the client browser.
High-level languages are programming languages that can easily be interpreted as well as compiled. These languages utilise the difference between script and language, promoting more human-like commanding and coding methodologies. High-level languages can be run on various platforms and are easy to debug and understand, even for beginners.
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.
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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.
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