Scripting vs Programming: What Are The Key Differences

This article explains the fundamental differences between Scripting vs Programming languages along with their benefits, types, etc to select the best option per your need:

We all know that programming languages are a string of instructions given to the computer to get a task done. But then what is a Scripting language? This is a confusion that looms in the minds of many people. If you are looking for an answer to this question, this article has the answers for you.

In this article, we will learn about Scripting languages Vs Programming languages. We would also see the types of Scripting languages and Programming languages that we have and their areas of use. The article also enlists the benefits of both languages.

Scripting Vs Programming

Scripting vs Programming

Further ahead, in this article, the differences between Scripting and Programming languages have been covered. These differences are listed in a tabular manner, which will help you identify at a glance how both languages differ. Toward the end of the article, we have provided answers to some FAQs related to this topic.

What Is A Scripting Language

These are programming languages that are mostly interpreter-based. This means that at runtime, the scripts are directly interpreted by the environment to get the result instead of being translated to machine understandable code before being run.

Coding in a scripting language involves few lines of code that can be used within large programs. These scripts are written to perform some basic tasks like making a call to the server, extracting data from a data set, or automating any other task within a software. They may be used in dynamic web applications, gaming apps, to create app plugins, etc.

It is to be noted that all scripting languages are programming languages, but the reverse is not always true.

Some popular examples of Scripting languages are Python, Javascript, Perl, Ruby, PHP, VBScript, etc.

Scripting vs Programming

Types Of Scripting Languages

In scripting languages, the scripts are directly interpreted at run time and the output is generated. Depending upon where the script is executed, Scripting languages can be divided into the following two types:

  • Server-side scripting languages: The scripts written in these languages are executed on the server. Some common examples of server-side scripting languages are Perl, Python, PHP, etc.
  • Client-side scripting languages: The scripts written in these languages are executed on the Client browser. Some common examples of client-side scripting languages are Javascript, VBScript, etc.

Areas of use:

The area of use is quite vast and can range from use as a domain-specific language to a general-purpose programming language. Examples of domain-specific languages are AWK and sed, which are text processing languages. Examples of general-purpose programming languages are Python, Perl, PowerShell, etc.

Scripting Language code is generally small in size, i.e. it consists of a few lines of code that is used within the main program. They are used for automating some specific tasks within a large program like making API calls or data extraction from a database, etc. They can be used for server-side scripting, e.g. PHP, Python, Perl, etc. They can also be used for client-side scripting e.g. VBScript, JavaScript, etc.

These languages can also be used for System Administration like Perl, Python, etc. They are also used in multimedia and gaming apps. Their area of use also extends to the creation of extensions and plugins for applications.

What Is A Programming Language

As most of us would know, programming languages are a set of instructions for the computer to get a task done. These languages are generally compiled before run time so a compiler converts this code to machine understandable code. A programming language needs an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for the program to be executed.

Code execution in a programming language is faster as the code is available in machine-understandable form when the program is run. Some popular examples of programming languages are C, C++, Java, C#, etc.

However, with the fast-growing technology, the differences between Programming and Scripting languages are gradually fading away. We can understand this because we can have an Interpreter for a Programming language like C and then instead of being compiled it can be interpreted and used as a scripting language.

Types Of Programming Languages

Programming Languages are classified into the following types based on various generations as listed below:

  • First Generation Languages: These are machine-level programming languages.
  • Second Generation Languages: These are the assembly languages that use assemblers to convert the code to machine-understandable format for execution. The main advantage of these languages over First Generation languages was their speed.
  • Third Generation Languages: These are high-level languages that are less machine-dependent as compared to first and second-generation languages. Example: BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, etc.
  • Fourth Generation Languages: These languages support a specific programming domain. Example: PL/SQL for database management, Oracle Reports for report generation, etc.
  • Fifth Generation Languages: These languages were designed to get a task done without having to write a complete set of instructions for the same. These languages only require constraints to be defined and state the task that needs to be done without mentioning the steps to accomplish the same.

Areas of use:

As already mentioned above, Scripting languages are a subset of Programming languages. Thus, Programming languages besides performing all the tasks of a Scripting language as stated above can also be used for any task that we want to get done by the computer.

This means to say that the Programming languages are capable of developing any application from the start.

Benefits Of Scripting Language

Some advantages are listed below:

  • Ease of use: Scripting languages are generally easy to learn and use. Not much effort or time is needed to master a scripting language and use the same.
  • Area of use: The areas of use of a scripting language are quite vast and could be used as a domain-specific language to a general-purpose programming language.
  • No Compilation: These languages do not require the program to be compiled before run time.
  • Ease of Debugging: They are easy to debug as the scripts are small and the syntax is not complicated.
  • Portability: They can be used across various Operating Systems easily.

Benefits Of Programming Language

Some advantages of Programming language, when compared to a scripting language, are as below:

  • Faster Execution: Programming languages are faster when executed as they have already been compiled and a machine code exists which directly runs to generate the output
  • No dependency: The programs can be run without the need for any external program.
  • Programming: Using a programming language, we can create complete software from scratch.
  • Code security: Before execution, an executable file is created, which is what the compiler does, therefore a company/developer doesn’t have to share the original code. The executable file can be shared instead of the actual code.

Programming Language Vs Scripting Language

Scripting Language Programming Language
A Scripting Language is a Programming language that is mainly used to automate certain tasks within a software.A programming language consists of instructions for the computer and is used for creating complete software.
Execution and output is generated one line at a time.Output is generated for the complete program in one go.
There is no need for compiling the script.The Program is compiled by the compiler at the time of execution.
There is no executable file generated during execution of the script.An executable file is generated during code execution.
The script is directly interpreted at runtime.The program is first compiled and then compiled code is executed at runtime.
They are easy to learn and use.They are comparatively difficult to learn and use.
They are usually small pieces of code.The code is usually large and has a large number of lines.
It is faster to write scripts as they are usually written to automate a specific task within the main program/software.Coding in a Programming language is time taking as it involves designing a complete software.
Scripts are written within a parent Program.These Programs exist and run independently.
All Scripting languages are Programming languages.All Programming languages are not Scripting languages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) What is the difference between scripting and programming?

Answer: Scripting Languages are programming languages that are generally interpreted at runtime. As the scripts do not need to be compiled, so no exe file is created as well. Scripts are few lines of code used within a program. These scripts are written to automate some particular tasks within the program.

Programming languages are a set of code/instructions for the computer that are compiled at runtime. Thus an exe file is created. These programs have numerous lines of code and are a complete software/application in itself.

Q #2) Is HTML a programming language or scripting language?

Answer: HTML is neither a programming language nor a scripting language. It is termed as a Markup language. Markup languages use tags to format the text that needs to be displayed.

Q #3) Is C++ scripting language?

Answer: Programs written in C++ are compiled and then the compiled code runs to generate the output. C++ is thus a programming language and not a scripting language, since scripting languages are directly interpreted at run time and no prior compilation of the code takes place.

Q #4) Is SQL a scripting language?

Answer: SQL is not a scripting language. SQL stands for Structured Query Language and it is used to update or get some information from a database.

Q #5) Is scripting easier than programming?

Answer: Scripting languages are generally easier than programming languages. These scripts are written to automate a task like a call to the server etc. within the major program. The scripts written are easy to learn and use.

Q #6) How is scripting used?

Answer: Scripting languages can be used as domain-specific languages and also as general-purpose programming languages. Examples of Scripting languages used as domain-specific are ECMAScript for web browsers, Bash for Unix, etc. Examples of Scripting languages that are used as general-purpose programming languages are Perl, Python, etc.

Q #7) Which scripting language is best?

Answer: There are a couple of Scripting languages that are most commonly used. Among the popular Scripting languages are Javascript, Python, PHP, Ruby, Perl, etc.


This article aimed at bringing out the differences – Programming vs Scripting. The article explained Scripting and Programming Languages along with giving you a brief idea of the types of these languages. Further, the areas of use were also discussed.

Suggested Reading =>> Best Programming Languages

We also covered the benefits of using Scripting and Programming Languages, along with the differences between them in a tabular manner in the article. Last, we also included some of the FAQs that you may have and would lookout for an answer to.

Hope this article was helpful to all our readers and we do hope that the article succeeded in achieving its aim.