You may be surprised to learn that more than 700 programming languages have been invented throughout the history of computers. That’s not nearly as many as the thousands of human languages we have, but learning any new language is no small feat. 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.
Scripting Language Definition
A scripting language (also known as scripting, or script) is a series of commands that can be executed without the need for compiling. While all scripting languages are programming languages, not all programming languages are scripting languages. PHP, Perl, and Python are common examples of scripting languages.
Scripting languages use a program known as an interpreter to translate commands and are directly interpreted from source code, not requiring a compilation step. Other programming languages, on the other hand, may require a compiler to translate commands into machine code before it can execute those commands.
It is important to know the difference between interpreted vs compiled programming languages to expand your understanding of coding. However, advanced hardware and coding practices are beginning to make the distinction somewhat obsolete. Overall, scripting languages are used to provide directions to software programs, like those within websites.
Is Scripting the Same as Coding?
Scripting is not the same as coding, but the two are very similar. Though both are used in the backend of websites and applications, there are key differences when comparing a scripting language vs a programming language. The main difference lies in how they are each used.
A programming language allows you to create a new program, whereas a scripting language allows you to provide instructions for a program that already exists. Scripting provides functionality, while coding provides structure.
Interpreted vs Compiled Programming Languages
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.
In compiled programming languages, a compiler program translates code written in a high-level programming language into a lower-level language in order for the program to execute. C or Java programs must usually be compiled first in order to run. Two well-known compilers are Eclipse for Java and GCC for C and C++.
The easiest way to understand how a compiler functions is to think about various operating systems. For instance, Windows programs are compiled to run on Windows platforms and thus are not compatible with Mac.
Server-Side Scripting vs Client-Side Scripting
There are two types of scripting languages: server side and client side. The only significant difference between client-side scripting vs server-side scripting is that the former requires a server for its processing.
Server-side scripting languages run on a web server. When a client sends a request, the server responds by sending content via HTTP. In contrast, client-side scripting languages run on the client end, which means they run on their web browser.
The benefit of client-side scripts is that they can reduce demand on the server, allowing web pages to load faster. Whereas, one significant benefit of a server-side scripting language is that it is not viewable by the public like client-side scripts are.
When trying to decide which way to go on a project, client-side scripting vs server-side scripting, keep in mind that the client side is more focused on user interface and functionality. Conversely, server-side scripting is the type of scripting language that focuses on faster processing, access to data, and resolving errors.
Examples of Server-Side Scripting Languages
In this section, we will provide examples of server-side scripting languages and notable details about them. Learn more about PHP, Java, and Perl scripting languages, among others, in the table below.
|PHP||The most popular server-side language used on the web.|
|ASP.NET||Web-application framework developed by Microsoft.|
|Node.js||Can run on a multitude of platforms, including Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac, etc.|
|Java||Used in everything from your car stereo’s Bluetooth to NASA applications.|
|Ruby||Dynamic. Focuses heavily on simplicity.|
|Perl||A bit of a mashup between C, shell script, AWK, and sed.|
|Python||Great for beginners to learn. Uses shorter code.|
Examples of Client-Side Scripting Languages
Client-side scripting languages include languages like HTML. To learn more about other examples of client-side scripting languages and their purposes, read through the table below.
|HTML||The foundation of web development.|
|CSS||Improves the appearance and graphics on pages in your web browser.|
Applications of Scripting Languages
Scripting languages are used in many areas, both on and off the web. In addition to server-side and client-side applications, scripting languages can be used in system administration. Examples of scripts used in system admin are Shell, Perl, and Python.
Scripting languages are also used in a variety of games and multimedia. For example, Minecraft mods use Java to allow users to create their own worlds and items in the game. Additionally, Second Life, Trainz, and Wesnoth all rely on scripting languages and allow users to create extensions for the games. Similar to the extensions used in games, extensions in other programs, such as Google’s Chrome browser extensions, are all run using scripting languages.
Pros and Cons of Scripting Languages
There are many advantages of using scripting languages over other programming languages. First, they are open-source. This allows users from around the world to join in the improvement process. Other pros include the following:
- No requirement to compile, although occasionally it is necessary.
- Easy to transfer between operating systems.
- Scripting languages make web pages look more appealing.
- The syntax is easier to learn and write.
- Scripts can be used as a prototype for programs, saving time on test projects.
There are not a whole lot of cons to using scripting languages. However, one con is the fact that some companies don’t want scripts to be read by everyone, so they use server-side scripts to avoid releasing them to the public. Also, installing an interpreter program can be a hassle. Finally, sometimes scripts are slower than programming languages.
Most Popular Scripting Languages
- PHP. PHP is a general-purpose scripting language that is particularly useful in web development. It can be used to build a graphical user interface and is compatible with every prominent operating system.
- Python. Python is one of the easiest scripting languages to learn. It is used in task automation, website building, and data analysis.
- Perl. Though Perl was initially developed for text manipulation, the scripting language is now used for a variety of tasks. Today, it is commonly used to manage databases.
- Ruby. Ruby is an object oriented language, and there are many big companies that use Ruby today.
How to Learn a Scripting Language
A programming bootcamp is great in that it not only teaches you how to code but also prepares you for a career in tech. Most programming bootcamps last less than a year and they provide career services and different payment methods that allow all types of people to start a career in the tech industry.
Learning a scripting language is the easiest way to get your feet wet in the coding world. There are bountiful resources out there to help you try each one until you find one that makes sense to you. Just remember to take it slow, be patient with yourself, and aim to start with small projects, instead of large ones. It is also wise to start out with a scripting language that is easy to learn, like Python
Scripting Languages: FAQ
Python is widely considered both a programming and a scripting language. As it is interpreted, Python is a scripting language. However, Python’s broad applications in development also lead it to be considered a high-level programming language.
What is the scripting language Roblox developers use?
The scripting language Roblox developers use is Lua. Though Lua is commonly used in video game development, it is also used for creating network systems and in embedded programming. In addition to Roblox, there are many other companies that rely on Lua.
What is the best scripting language to learn?
Python is the best scripting language to learn because it is easy to learn and has been widely adopted across industries. In addition, Python is worth learning because it can be used for a range of tasks, including data visualization, automating tasks, and building websites.
Is SQL a scripting language?
SQL is a scripting language that is commonly used for managing data. As a fourth-generation language, SQL uses an interpreter rather than a compiler. SQL, which stands for Structured Query Language, is often used for communicating with databases and storing backend data.
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