Outlining The Difference Between Programming & Scripting language [Updated 2021]


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.

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 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 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

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.


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.


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

What are scripting languages?

Scripting languages are mostly high-level languages that generally use interpreters to convert the codes written to machine language by executing the codes line by line during runtime. Python, Bash, PHP, JavaScript, Node.js, and R are some popular scripting languages.

What are the four types of programming language?

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 program.

Is Python a programming or scripting language?

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.

Is C++ 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 analyze the entire code at once. C++ was created with the intention of developing a general-purpose programming language.

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. Compilers are much faster as they analyze the written codes at once before runtime in chunks, after compiled. C, C++, and Java use compilers to run codes.

What are interpreters?

Interpreters analyze the codes line by line and prefer to perform executions of those lines individually. They are slower than compilers but are used by popular programming languages such as Python, JavaScript, and Ruby.

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.
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.

What is a high-level programming language?

High-level languages are programming languages that can easily be interpreted as well as compiled. These languages utilize 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 behavior.

Level Up In Your Career With Our Premium Courses | Enrol Now

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 all the way to the top, no matter where you start from!

Exit mobile version