What Is a Difference Between a Scripting Language and a Compiled Language?


Larry Thompson

What Is the Difference Between a Scripting Language and a Compiled Language?

When it comes to programming languages, there are two major categories: scripting languages and compiled languages. Both types serve different purposes and have their own unique characteristics. In this article, we will explore the differences between these two types of languages.

Scripting Languages


A scripting language is a type of programming language that is interpreted and executed on the fly. It is often used for automating tasks, writing small programs, and web development. Examples of popular scripting languages include JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and PHP.


  • Interpreted: Scripting languages are not compiled into machine code before execution. Instead, they are interpreted line by line at runtime.
  • Dynamically Typed: Variables in scripting languages are not explicitly declared with types. They can hold values of any type.
  • High-level Abstractions: Scripting languages provide built-in functions and libraries that simplify complex tasks.
  • Faster Development Cycle: Due to their dynamic nature and high-level abstractions, scripting languages allow for faster development and prototyping.

Compiled Languages

A compiled language is a type of programming language that is translated into machine code before execution. The resulting executable file can be directly run by the computer’s processor. Examples of popular compiled languages include C, C++, Java, and Swift.

  • Compiled: Compiled languages go through a separate compilation step where the source code is translated into machine code.
  • Statically Typed: In compiled languages, variables must be declared with specific types. The type of a variable is determined at compile-time.
  • Efficiency: Since compiled languages are converted into machine code, they can be highly optimized for performance.
  • Portability: Compiled languages can generate platform-specific executables or bytecode that can run on virtual machines.


Now that we have explored the characteristics of scripting languages and compiled languages, let’s compare them:


Aspect Scripting Languages Compiled Languages
Type of Execution Interpreted Compiled
Type Checking Dynamically Typed Statically Typed
Development Speed Faster due to dynamic nature and high-level abstractions Slower due to explicit type declarations and compilation step
Performance Optimization Limited compared to compiled languages Potential for highly optimized machine code execution


In summary, scripting languages and compiled languages have distinct characteristics and are suited for different purposes. Scripting languages are interpreted, dynamically typed, and provide faster development cycles.

On the other hand, compiled languages are compiled into machine code, statically typed, and offer better performance optimization. The choice between scripting and compiled languages depends on the specific requirements of a project.

Understanding the differences between these two types of programming languages can help you make informed decisions when choosing the right language for your projects.