IT Education

Scripting vs programming languages: Where they differ


- August 8, 2023

One of the significant use cases for scripting languages is web development, where dynamic and responsive experiences are highly valued. Scripting is often contrasted with system programming, as in Ousterhout’s dichotomy or “programming in the large and programming in the small”. In this view, scripting is glue code, connecting software components, and a language specialized for this purpose is a glue language. Pipelines and shell scripting are archetypal examples of glue languages, and Perl was initially developed to fill this same role. Web development can be considered a use of glue languages, interfacing between a database and web server. But if a substantial amount of logic is written in script, it is better characterized as simply another software component, not “glue”.

what is scripting

In this article, we will cover what a scripting language is, including the definition of a scripting language, examples of popular scripting languages, and the pros and cons of using them. Some other types of applications that need faster feature addition or tweak-and-run cycles (e.g. game engines) also use an embedded language. The scripting languages used for this purpose range from the more common and more famous Lua and Python to lesser-known ones such as AngelScript and Squirrel. Languages such as Tcl and Lua were specifically designed as general-purpose scripting languages that could be embedded in any application. Other languages such as Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) provided strong integration with the automation facilities of an underlying system. Python is used by several major companies, making it a great scripting language to learn.

Difference between scripting and programming

Understanding compiled vs interpreted languages is key to understanding how scripting languages function. An interpreted programming language is a language designed to execute source code directly and without the need to compile a program into machine-language instructions. An interpreter will execute the program by translating statements into a series of one or more subroutines before finally translating them into another language, such as machine code. Different languages are better suited to different use cases, whether that’s manipulating data, generating graphics, or creating tools to help developers write code.

Stack Exchange network consists of 183 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers. Every decision you make on your computer, whether it’s right-clicking or pressing ‘search’ on Google, sets in motion a chain of code that varies in complexity depending on the demands of the user. Bash – the free version of the Bourne shell distributed with Linux and GNU operating systems.

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The default R implementation is also available from some other scripting languages such as Python and Perl. This means that you can access all the statistical functionality of R using these scripting languages. The most popular Python implementation is CPython, written in the C language. It’s also what is scripting the reference implementation that you download together with the Python language. Even though Python is an interpreted language, CPython uses both a compilation and interpretation step. First, it compiles the source code into bytecode (not the same as machine code) that it interprets at runtime.

what is scripting

The Emacs Lisp scripting language is closely integrated with the editor interface itself, so every command is also a Lisp function that you can call from your script, and customization parameters are Lisp variables as well. Besides the default R environment, you can use the R scripting language in other environments as well, such as pqR (stands for ‘a pretty quick version of R’) and Renjin (an R implementation on top of the Java Virtual Machine). Bash is the default shell for many Unix-based operating systems, including most Linux distros and all macOS releases up to macOS Catalina that replaced Bash with Z shell (Zsh) in 2019.

Learning a scripting language is an excellent introduction to coding and programming. They are relatively easy to learn and can be an effective jumping-off point to pursue your hobbies or career interests further. Scripting is like giving computers a set of specific, step-by-step instructions to perform tasks automatically. It’s a simplified form of coding that’s often used for tasks that need to be repeated or automated, like processing files or web pages. Instead of creating full-fledged software, scripts are smaller and focused on particular jobs, making them quicker to write and easier to modify. In essence, scripting is a way to make computers do useful things with just a few lines of straightforward instructions.

what is scripting