The Ultimate Guide to Scripting Languages
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- Scripting languages are interpreted one line of code at a time.
- Some programming languages are compiled into an executable program file.
Scripting languages differ from other programming languages in several important ways. In this guide, you will learn what scripting languages are, what they are used for, and which ones you should consider learning.
What Are Scripting Languages?
Scripting languages are programming languages that are designed for scripting. So, what is scripting? Scripting is the process of using a scripting language to write a short program that is executed one line of code at a time. These programs do not need to be compiled before running. Instead, the application or shell that runs them interprets them line by line.
Often, scripts contain instructions that a human operator could type in manually. The script automates these actions so that many lines of code can be run simply by running the script. These can be used to automate computer processes and generate web pages.
Scripting vs. Programming Languages
A scripting language is a type of programming language. However, unlike code written in scripting languages, code written in other programming languages must be compiled before being run. The process of compiling creates an executable (.exe) file that can be run directly from the operating system.
Scripts written in scripting languages, on the other hand, must be run within the shell or program they were designed to run in. They cannot be compiled into a program or run from the command prompt.
Students interested in learning how to script should research the languages various schools teach in their computer science programs. Many computer programming degree programs include regular programming languages like Java and C/C++, but do not include any scripting languages.
|Factor||Scripting Language||Other Programming Language|
|Interpreted by||Interpreter within a program or shell||Compiler|
|Conversion||Converted to machine language one line at a time||Compiled all at once to convert to machine language|
|Size||Small amount of code, up to a few thousand lines||The full code for a program|
|Complexity||Easy to use||More difficult|
|Execution||Runs inside of another program||Runs independently from other programs|
Server-Side vs. Client-Side Scripting Languages
There are two main types of scripting languages used in web design: server-side and client-side. Server-side refers to any code that runs on the server in the background. For example, the PHP code that powers a WordPress website is executed on the server, not by the browser itself.
Server-Side Scripting Languages
- PHP: PHP is a general-purpose scripting language that is widely used in web development. Because this scripting language is fast and flexible, it is used to power millions of websites, including every site that runs on WordPress or Joomla. These popular content management systems are written in PHP.
- Ruby: Ruby can be used on the server-side to save and store data and execute and validate transactions. Although it has some client-side uses, it is not typically executed within a browser. Therefore, it is mainly a server-side scripting language. Ruby can, however, be interpreted and compiled into a standalone program.
- Python: Python is not usually used directly to generate websites. Rather, it's typically run within a framework designed for this purpose. Django and Flask are examples of popular web frameworks that can be used to support the development of websites using Python.
Client-Side Scripting Languages
What Are Scripting Languages Used For?
Scripting languages are also used for data extraction. Python and R are commonly used for data mining. These languages can be used to import data from Excel spreadsheets, perform calculations, and display the mined data in a graphical format.
Benefits of Learning a Scripting Language
There are many benefits to learning a scripting language. These include:
- Easy to learn: Scripting languages are high-level programming languages, which means that they are written to make sense to the people who use them. As a result, they are easy to learn and use.
- No compiling: Scripting languages do not need to be compiled before use. This means they require one less step than other programming languages. It is also easier on the system's memory to run an interpreter than to compile.
- Cross-platform: Scripting languages are designed to be read by a browser or a remote server, so they don't require special software to run.
- Open source: Scripting languages are freely available to anyone who wants to use them. All you have to do is learn.
The Best Scripting Languages To Know
If you are ready to get started scripting, here are a few of the best scripting languages to learn:
- PHP: PHP is an open-source scripting language that is frequently used in back-end web development.
- Python: Python is known for its concise syntax. It requires less typing than many other languages.
- Ruby: Ruby is one of the easiest scripting languages to learn. It is an object-oriented programming language that lends itself to writing logical and clean code.
- Perl: Perl was frequently used for common gateway interface scripting in the 1990s and is still a fairly popular general-purpose scripting language.
Scripting Languages Bootcamps
Frequently Asked Questions About Scripting Languages
No, C++ is not a scripting language. C++ is a general-purpose programming language that is typically compiled prior to executing the code. C++ is an object-oriented language that is capable of low-level memory manipulation. It was originally intended for system programming and embedded software in large systems.
C++ was designed with flexibility, efficiency, and performance in mind. It is useful for resource-constrained applications and software infrastructure. It is also good for applications where performance is critical.
Scripting languages are interpreted rather than compiled. The program or shell that does the interpreting reads and executes one line of code at a time. This differs from other programming languages, which must be compiled before they are run. When they are compiled, an .exe file is created, which is used to run the program.