What Is Scripting and What Is It Used For?

Many know about computer programming, but what is scripting? Learn more about the vital role of scripting in computer programming.

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by Emily Gillespie-Lord

Published August 22, 2022

Reviewed by Monali Mirel Chuatico

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Many consider the first computer programmer to be Ada Lovelace. If it had ever been built, the first programmable computer would have been a large machine with moving parts and levers. Programming for this first computer would have consisted of a system of punch cards that told the machine what to do. Charles Babbage was the first to conceive of this sort of machine, but Ada Lovelace was the first person to truly understand the real-world applications it could one day perform.

Careers in computer programming and development are on the rise in today's tech industry, but not all involve designing computer programs from the ground up. Many of these jobs include working within existing programs. Scripting languages are generally easier to learn than designing completely new programs. Many people learn scripting through coding bootcamps, which have minimal time commitments and can often be completed in under a year.

What Is a Scripting Language?

Most people have a basic understanding of computer programming. Programmers type source code into a computer which then tells the computer how to perform a task. All scripting is a form of programming, but not all programming is scripting.

So what is a scripting language? A scripting language is primarily used to build websites and web applications. When writing a script, you are not building a new program from scratch but instead linking together existing parts within a program. The program then runs the script.

Comparing scripting vs. coding may seem confusing. Coding, programming, and scripting all have similar definitions, but each has key differences.

Programming is the process of developing a new program from the ground up.

Coding is the process of taking different programming languages and translating them into something computers understand. You might recognize a computer or machine language, which is binary and consists of long strings of ones and zeros.

Scripting is used to automate the execution of tasks. Unlike other programming languages, scripting languages are simple and often easier to learn.

What Is Scripting Used For?

If programming is used to develop new programs, then what is scripting used for? Scripting is primarily used to automate tasks for websites and web applications while using an existing program. It is useful for extracting information from a dataset. Computer programmers, software developers, as well as front-end and back-end developers, use scripting skills in their careers.

One of the most popular scripting languages, Python, is used in many different businesses, such as Uber, Facebook, and Netflix. The tech industry is heavily reliant on scripting languages.

The language used in Microsoft Excel is an example of scripting. Some of these functions include the automatic addition of columns or other mathematics. Scripting languages are also used for text-to-speech applications, as well as cloud data management.

Types of Scripting Languages

There are two types of scripting languages — server-side and client-side. The server-side includes code that runs in the background and is not visible to users. Client-side involves any code that runs on a browser and that the user can interact with on the website.

JavaScript is a highly popular, general-purpose scripting language used by Google Chrome and other businesses. JavaScript is what allows your social media feed to automatically update and allows you to experience websites fully. JavaScript can be used as a client-side or server-side scripting language.

Python is used by financial institutions and tech companies such as Netflix, Facebook, Uber, and Google. Python is a server-side scripting language used for application development and connecting different programming languages at multi-language companies. Python is also used by government agencies such as the FBI, CIA, NSA, and NASA.

Ruby is a server-side scripting language used for creating web browsers, but it can be used for other program applications as well. Ruby is open-source, meaning that its original source code is free and available for anyone to use. Apps such as Hulu and Airbnb have used Ruby in the past.

Frequently Asked Questions About Scripting Languages

What is an example of scripting?

To add visible words to a website while using the scripting language Python, you would use the following sequence:

# This program prints Hi, Mom!
print('Hi, Mom!')

After running the program, the words "Hi, Mom!" would appear. This is one of the most basic commands in Python. Python is used by several major companies, making it a great scripting language to learn. Python and many other scripting languages are open-source, meaning anyone can access the original source code when writing their own scripts.

Why is scripting important?

Because it is so much easier to learn, scripting is a great way to begin a career in programming and coding. Websites, applications, and programs need scripting in order to function efficiently.

Scripting is used in program testing and also automates different processes within a program. Otherwise, tasks such as automatic page refreshing, some video ads, and other processes would need to be done individually by a user. Scripting creates a better experience for program users.

Can I learn scripting in a coding bootcamp?

Yes. Many coding bootcamps offer lessons in JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and other scripting languages. Although not many coding bootcamp providers offer a scripting-specific course, they often incorporate the basic skills and lessons needed to learn scripting.

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