For anyone new to the world of programming or technology in general, computer languages might be a new, foreign term. Simply speaking, these computer languages are languages that a computer can understand. There are two types of computer languages; high-level language and low-level language. Programming languages fall under high-level language.

Difference Between Scripting Language and Programming Languages

Difference Between Scripting Language and Programming Language

The scripting language is also a programming language but unlike programming languages, they do not need to be compiled but are rather interpreted. What this means is programming languages use a compiler to convert the high-level language into machine language, a language a computer can understand, whereas scripting languages use an interpreter.

While both interpreter and compiler do the same thing, compilers compile the code as one block, but interpreters compile the code line by line.

It is important to understand interpreters and compilers before learning about scripting vs programming languages so let’s dive a little deeper. Compilers go through the code once and report all the errors collectively at once whereas an Interpreter will go through one line at a time and throws an error when it finds one.

Usually, compilers are considered to be faster than interpreters because interpreted code first needs to be converted to native machine code but in practice, the difference between the two is starting to get blurry due to advancements in computation capabilities of newer hardware and better coding practices.

Now let’s take a look at the differences between a programming language and a scripting language and what the application areas for each language are.


By definition, a Programming Language is a language that feeds the computer a set of instructions to generate a certain output.

A scripting language supports scripts, programs are written specifically for a special runtime environment to automate the execution of a specific task (Mittal, 2018). JavaScript, PHP, Perl, Ruby, Rexx are scripting languages whereas a C, Java, Basic, COBOL, Pascal, C++, C# are programming languages.


An important point to consider when categorizing any language as scripting or programming is the environment in which the language is going to be executed.

The importance behind this is that an interpreter can be designed for C language and be used as a scripting language and a compiler for JavaScript can be used as a non-scripting language.

An example is the JavaScript engine of Google Chrome, the V8, which works by compiling the JavaScript code into machine code rather than interpret it.


There are five subcategories under programming language. They are

  • First Generation
  • Second Generation
  • Third Generation
  • Fourth Generation
  • Fifth Generation

There are only two subcategories under scripting language. They are:

  • Server-side scripting
  • Client-side scripting


When it comes to coding using any programming language, it generally takes a longer time compared to when coding using a scripting language. This is because when using a programming language, the lines of code that need to be written are almost always a lot even for a single function whereas when using a scripting language, a few short and specific lines will get the job done.


There are several different areas of application for a scripting language and a programming language. They have been listed below:

Scripting Language

  • A scripting language can be used to automate certain tasks in a program
  • It can also be used to extract information from a data set
  • It is less concentrated in code as compared to other traditional programming languages

Programming Language

  • A programming language usually runs inside a parent program like scripts
  • It is more compatible when code needs to be integrated with mathematical models
  • Languages like JAVA can be compiled and then used on any platform


Now that we have looked at the differences between scripting languages and programming languages, it will be easier to pick which one is for you.

In conclusion, scripting languages are easy to write and are used to design complex software and programs in the advanced technical world whereas programming languages run in a parent program and are used to build full versions of applications and software. They also have the ability to enhance and controlling application behaviour.