Definition

scripting language

A scripting language is a form of programming language that is usually interpreted rather than compiled. Conventional programs are converted permanently into executable files before they are run. In contrast, programs in scripting language are interpreted one command at a time. Scripting languages are often written to facilitate enhanced features of Web sites. These features are processed on the server but the script in a specific page runs on the user's browser.

In most cases, it is easier to write the code in a scripting language than in a compiled language. However, scripting languages are slower because the instructions are not handled solely by the basic instruction processor. Scripting languages allow rapid development and can communicate easily with programs written in other languages.

Scripting languages can be used to create specialized GUIs (graphical user interfaces) and forms that enhance the convenience of search engines, Web-based e-mail and e-commerce. Many Web sites require that the user's browser be set to run scripts to take advantage of all the features of the site. In some cases, Web sites are practically useless unless the user's computer is set to run programs locally in a scripting language.

Scripting languages defined elsewhere on WhatIs.com include:

Related glossary terms: smoke testing, RSS, Windows File System (WinFS)
This was last updated in August 2007
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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