What Does a Scripting Language Do?


Heather Bennett

A scripting language is a programming language that is used to write scripts. Scripts are typically small programs that automate tasks or perform specific functions within a larger software system. Unlike compiled languages, which are translated into machine code before execution, scripting languages are interpreted at runtime by an interpreter or a runtime environment.

What Does a Scripting Language Do?

A scripting language can be used for various purposes, including:

  • Automation: Scripting languages excel at automating repetitive tasks. By writing scripts, you can save time and effort by automating processes such as file manipulation, data processing, and system administration.
  • Web Development: Scripting languages are widely used for web development. They allow you to add interactivity and dynamic behavior to websites.

    For example, JavaScript is a popular scripting language used for client-side web development.

  • Data Analysis and Manipulation: With scripting languages, you can easily manipulate and analyze data. They provide powerful libraries and tools for data processing, statistical analysis, and visualization.
  • Game Development: Many game engines use scripting languages to define game logic and behavior. These languages allow game developers to create interactive gameplay elements without the need for low-level programming.

Differences Between Scripting Languages and Compiled Languages

Scripting languages differ from compiled languages in several ways:

  • Execution Speed:
  • In general, compiled languages tend to have faster execution speeds than scripting languages since the code is precompiled into machine code before execution. However, modern interpreters have improved performance significantly over the years.

  • Development Speed:
  • Scripting languages often have a faster development cycle compared to compiled languages.

    They typically have simpler syntax and provide high-level abstractions, allowing developers to write code more quickly.

  • Portability:
  • Scripts written in scripting languages are usually more portable since they can be executed on any system with the necessary interpreter installed. Compiled languages, on the other hand, require the code to be recompiled for each Target platform.

  • Language Features:
  • Scripting languages often provide rich built-in libraries and features that make it easier to accomplish specific tasks. They are designed to be user-friendly and provide convenient abstractions for common programming tasks.

Famous Scripting Languages

There are numerous scripting languages available, each with its own strengths and areas of application. Some of the most popular scripting languages include:

  • JavaScript: A versatile language primarily used for web development, allowing developers to create dynamic and interactive web pages.
  • Python: Known for its readability and simplicity, Python is widely used in various domains such as web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and automation.
  • Ruby: A language known for its elegant syntax and focus on developer productivity. Ruby is commonly used in web development frameworks like Ruby on Rails.
  • PHP: Primarily used for server-side web development, PHP is a popular choice for building dynamic websites and interacting with databases.
  • Perl: A flexible language commonly used for text processing, system administration, and web development.


Scripting languages are powerful tools that enable developers to automate tasks, create dynamic web applications, analyze data, and build games. They provide a faster development cycle compared to compiled languages and offer various language-specific features and libraries. Understanding the purpose and characteristics of scripting languages is essential for any developer looking to leverage their capabilities.

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