Difference between Programming Language and Scripting Language

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A programming language is a language used to write set of instructions to perform a task or to get an output from it, whereas Scripting language have comparatively small set of instructions which is used to produce different kinds of outputs which can be combined to some other program to perform a task. Scripting languages is a subset of programming languages.

The basic difference between both is that programming languages are compiled whereas scripting languages are interpreted, and the programming languages run independently but scripts do not. The deciding factor of the differences between these two is the environment on which they are used.

Initially, the programming languages were used to develop software/applications like Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Microsoft Word for example, but when the need to add new functionalities to these existing programs arose, then the need for scripting languages came into existence.

Programming Language vs Scripting Language

Programming Languages Scripting Languages
Set of instructions to produce various types of outputs to automate a certain task. Set of instructions to combine the outputs with different outputs to perform a task.
Compilation is necessary. No need for compilation.
Not interpreted. Interpretation is required.
Full- length code. Small chunks of code.
Self-executable, no host is required. Dependent on some other platform, host is required.
Runs independently. Needs to be embedded to existing parent program.
Creates an .exe file. Does not create .exe file
Used in Application/Software development. Used in web development.
Time taken is more because of code being full-fledged. Lesser time is taken because these are only small pieces of code.

The detailed differences between programming languages and scripting languages are:

  • Programming languages use a compiler to first convert the high level language to machine level language in one go whereas, Scripting languages do not need a compiler and they use an interpreter for line by line conversion.
  • Programming languages are compiled so they do not need to be interpreted by some other host, whereas, Scripts are interpreted with another program. For example: JavaScript is used within HTML and then interpreted by browser which is the host for it.
  • Programming is a full-fledged code whereas script is a piece of code.
  • Any development can be done from scratch by using programming languages whereas,
  • Scripting languages are used to perform any specific task and gets combined to already existing programs.
  • Programming languages are self-executable and run independently, whereas, A script gets combined to a parent program to make a specific task easier.
  • The time taken to write a code using programming languages is relatively more because we need detailed line of code for each function whereas, A script is short and specific because it is only used to perform any function and will embed into some other host taking lesser time to write.
  • An executable file can be created using a programming language, whereas, A script does not create any .exe file.
  • Programming languages are categorized into: First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Generation, whereas, Scripting languages are only divided into two categories: Server-side scripting languages and client-side scripting languages.
  • Programming languages are primarily used for application development, whereas, Scripting languages are used to write code to perform any function in web development.
  • Examples: Programming languages: C, C++, Java, C#, Scripting languages: JavaScript, PHP, VBScript, Perl, Python.

Note: Python is a programming language which is also used for scripting. It is basically a programming language but is used as a scripting language to write code to automate a certain process in a specific environment.


The execution time and complexity are basically the differentiating factors for programming languages and scripting languages. The difference between programming languages and scripting languages mainly depends on the environment being used and the process of execution.

Although, the difference between both is getting almost negligible nowadays due to the advanced and improved practices that are coming into existence.

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