Scripting Vs Programming Language

Ahmed A.
3 min readJul 17, 2021


Scripting language and programming language are often used interchangeably, but in actuality, these two types of languages have many more differences than you might be aware of. We can say that all scripting languages are programming languages, but we can not say that all programming languages are scripting languages. Some of the first programs that were written, such as the programs in the Microsoft Office Suite, and Some of the first web browsers, used programming languages. As more functionality was required as time went by scripting languages were used to upgrade the functionality of those programs.

The fundamental difference between programming language and scripting language is the way they are executed. Programming languages make use of a compiler that converts high-level languages (more human language) into machine language(1’s and 0's). Scripting languages use an interpreter, the main difference between a compiler and an interpreter is that a compiler compiles code as a whole, while an interpreter complies line by line. Below we will take a look at the definitions of these two types of languages per Wikipedia.

Programming language — a formal language comprising a set of strings that produce various kinds of machine code output.

Scripting language — a programming language for a runtime system that automates the execution of tasks that would otherwise be performed individually by a human operator.

So how I interpret that is that programming languages are compiled into a smaller design that does not need to be interpreted by other languages or applications. Whereas scripting languages are written in a certain language which then needs to be interpreted by another program. We can imagine the example of JavaScript needing HTML and that code, in turn, being interpreted by the browser. As you see one type is independently run and the other is dependent on another program.

Programming Language

Programming languages are a little more difficult to learn and write because they usually require a lot of code just to write a simple function. But programming languages run faster because the entire program is read at the time of compiling, this also leads to fewer runtime errors because the compiler will not accept any errors since it is reading the whole program before running. There are five subcategories of programming languages that are pretty easy to remember.

  • First Gen
  • Second Gen
  • Third Gen
  • Fourth Gen
  • Fifth Gen

Some examples of programming languages are C, C++, C#, Java, Basic, COBOL, and Pascal just to name a few. All these languages can run independently and are self-executable, unlike scripting languages.

Scripting Languages

Scripting languages are essentially the opposite of programming languages. They are very easy to learn very high language programs with the ability to code quickly and have many libraries. The downside is they tend to run slower and are also susceptible to runtime errors because the interpreter reads small chunks of code at a time so you can throw an error in the middle of running your program. There are only two categories server-side and client-side. Some examples of scripting languages are JavaScript, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, and many many more. Scripting languages are dependent on other programs to run like the example I gave earlier of JavaScript requiring a web browser to run the code.


So now you know the basic information on what separates a scripting language from a programming language if you want to find out more you can learn more about compilers, interpreters, and the different languages that can be used as a hybrid. I hope this was helpful and next time you choose the right type of language for your program.