When you follow the step-by-step instructions in a recipe, you’ll end up cooking a delicious meal.

A scripting language or script is like a recipe. It’s a series of instructions that tells the computer what to do. Like a programming language, the script automates the computer’s tasks. The main difference between a scripting language and a programming language is that scripts need to run within other programs, such as browsers. Programs, on the other hand, are created through a more complex process that involves compiling the program into a binary file that can run by itself on a computer without the help of other programs.

Other interesting terms…

Read more about a “Scripting Language”

scripting language

Scripting languages make the lives of IT professionals easier by allowing them to tweak applications, operating systems (OSs), and programs to make them work as they desire. Scripts are open source, which means they can be accessed and obtained by any programmer then modified to suit their needs.

The open-source characteristic of scripts can be a boon or a bane. And it all depends on the level of privacy that its user requires. For instance, some company users don’t want outsiders to see how they perform vital functions, so using scripts may not be a good idea.

Most Popular Scripting Languages

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular scripting languages and get a glimpse of their uses in the real world.

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)

You’re right. PHP does not really stand for “hypertext preprocessor.” Its original name was actually “Personal Home Page” (which gives you an idea as to what this language does). As the script gained more features and functionalities, its name also evolved, making PHP a backronym for “hypertext preprocessor.”

PHP is the scripting language behind a majority of websites, so you’ve most likely come across it without knowing it. When you order an item from Amazon, for example, your computer sends a request that contains a PHP script to Amazon’s web server. The server runs the script and responds by showing you details, such as the item’s price in your local currency, along with your shipment options. All of these happen in milliseconds.

JavaScript (JS)

While PHP processes texts for web pages, JS is the scripting language behind the special effects and graphics you see on a website. If you have ever used Google Maps and explored it by clicking and dragging your mouse, then you have witnessed the power of JS. The scripting language is also behind most online games, mobile apps, and even smartwatch apps.

Job Control Language (JCL)

In computer speak, a “job” is the “unit of work that an operator gives to an OS.” When a payroll program computes the wages of a company’s employees, for instance, it is performing a job. Now, if you want to run a job every week without much human intervention, you need to develop what is called a “batch job.” That is where JCL comes into the picture. It is the control language of batch jobs. It tells the OS to execute the payroll program weekly so the company’s employees can receive their salaries.

What Is the Difference between a Scripting Language and a Programming Language?

The two languages primarily differ in terms of execution. A programming language uses a compiler to convert a high-level programming language into machine language. A scripting language, meanwhile, uses an interpreter.

A compiler is a special application that turns one programming language (the source language or that used by the programmer to create the application) to another (the target language or that used by the end user’s computer).

An interpreter, on the other hand, is a program that executes instructions written in a programming or scripting language directly or without compiling them into a language that the user’s computer understands.

Examples of programming languages include JS, Python, and Ruby, which use interpreters. Scripting languages like C, C++, and Java, meanwhile, use compilers.

Now that you know what a scripting language is, can you tell it apart from a programming language?

Key Takeaways

  • A scripting language is a series of instructions that automate computer tasks and run within other programs.
  • Scripts are open source and can be accessed, modified, and obtained by programmers.
  • Popular scripting languages include PHP, JS, and JCL.
  • PHP is used by websites to process requests and generate dynamic content.
  • JS is responsible for many special effects, graphics, online games, and mobile apps.
  • JCL is a control language for batch jobs, automating task execution.
  • Programming languages like JS, Python, and Ruby use interpreters while scripting languages like C, C++, and Java use compilers.