Programming vs Scripting


Differences Between Programming vs Scripting

Programming language defines a specific set of instructions that can be used to produce various kinds of output. The programming language description is basically divided into two parts: Syntax and Semantics. Syntax provides a form, whereas Semantics provides meaning to the program. Scripting languages are basically high-level, general-purpose languages that are dynamic in nature. A scripting language is a programming language that does not require an explicit compilation step and support scripts. Scripting languages are often interpreted rather than compiled.


  • Programming languages are compiled to machine code and run on the hardware of the underlying Operating system. One must use a certain IDE (Integrated Development Environment) to make use of programming languages. The programmer provides a set of instructions for a computer to achieve a certain goal. Certain algorithms can also be implemented by writing programs.
  • There are many programming languages in the market which are dominated by specific documentation, while other languages have a dominant implementation that is treated as a reference. Example- C programming language has an ISO standard associated with it, whereas languages like Perl falls in the latter category.
  • A programming language is basically utilized to transform the data. This actually happens by creating CPU instructions that write the input data into the output. Example – Solving a set of equations from a set of conditions. Programming languages like Java, Scala, C, C++, etc., are considered general-purpose language. These are the compiled programming languages. One needs to write down the source code by adding some texts and then run them through a compiler that would create binary instructions.


  •  Software applications, web pages within a web browser, usage of a shell of an operating system can be automated through Scripting languages. Scripting languages like Javascript, Perl, VBScript, etc., does not require to be compiled and has less access to the computers native abilities since they run on a subset of the original programming language. An example could be that Javascript would not be able to access your file system.
  • Scripting languages are generally interpreted. A scripting language’s primary focus does not build the application but might provide behavior to an existing application. It is used to write code that will target a software system. It can automate an operation on a software system. Scripts are written are basically a set of instructions to target a software system.
  • Scripting languages have evolved to become powerful. Now they are not limited to create small scripts to automate operations on a software system. One can also build a rich application with scripting languages. It can manipulate, customize and automate the facilities of an existing system. Useful functionality is already available via an interface; scripting languages provide a mechanism for exposing functionality to program control.

Key Differences Between Programming and Scripting

Below are the most important Differences Between Programming and Scripting:

  1. Code with Programming language takes longer to develop as more code needs to be written, whereas, with Scripting, it takes less time to code as it needs less coding.
  2. Programming languages do not require a host; they are executable, whereas Scripting languages need a host.
  3. Programming languages are complex and tedious to learn, whereas Scripting languages are easier to learn, write, and master than Programming languages.
  4. Programming languages are generally compiled and create an executable file, whereas Scripting languages are interpreted and do not create an executable file.
  5. Programming language code is compiled, and binaries are converted into machine code in one shot, whereas, in Scripting, high-level instructions are converted into machine language straightaway.
  6. Programming languages are most often used to build something from scratch, whereas Scripting languages can be used to combined existing component or module.
  7. Programming languages are designed in such a way a developer can take full advantage of features of a language, whereas Scripting languages are designed to make coding faster and simpler.
  8. With programming language, numerous lines of code are needed for each function, whereas Scripting languages require a lesser line of code than programming language to write functions.
  9. Programming languages increased maintenance cost, whereas, with Scripting, maintenance cost is drastically reduced.
  10. C, C++, C#, Java, VC++, COBOL, Pascal etc., are examples of programming languages, whereas JavaScript, VB Script, Python, Ruby etc., are examples of Scripting languages.


Today, a difference between programming and scripting languages is becoming more and more blurry since compilation can be pretty fast modern hardware and compilation techniques. There is no reason that one cannot write a C interpreter and use it as a scripting language, and similarly, there is no reason that one can’t compile JavaScript to machine code and store it in an executable file.

Scripting or writing scripts is like programming within a program. The traditional approach with scripting is such that one would write scripts to automate certain functionality within another program. Scripting would perform a very specific task like go through a text file to extract all digits. With Programming language, one is writing software that runs independently of a parent program. With programming language, a developer is usually involved in a project which is creating much more functionality than just a traditional script.

Lines are blurred today; scripting is very powerful today and performing the task which once used to lie in programming –zone. Scripting is a subset of programming. One should only be concerned about the language itself and how well suited it is for the required job. Every language has its strength and weaknesses. At the end of the day, its requirement and the programmer’s technical expertise that does matter.