Is Python a Scripting Language or Programming Language?

Is Python a Scripting Language or Programming Language?

Is Python a Scripting Language?
python is a programming language but that can be used to scripting too

What is programming?

Computer programming, also simply known as programming, is a collection of activities like data analysis, generation of algorithms and verification of the requirements. 

Human beings understand basic instructions like- Pick up the pen or drop the bag. These instructions can be delivered in several languages like English, French, Hindi, Thai, Swedish, etc. This is not the case for machines and computers. These devices take their instructions in a specified format/ language. A machine language. The computer understands the binary language, i.e., a combination of 0s and 1s. In the early years of computer science, machines were manually programmed and the digits were painstakingly entered by a human. This lead to machines of massive size and occupying a great deal of memory. They also did not offer space for changes or new innovation. Programming language is a tool using which humans can create instructions for the machines in an acceptable format, they make the task easier.

Using “codes”, one can get the computer to perform specific tasks. It could create complex shapes, game designs, automate projects, etc. the opportunities are endless. As the world is constantly progressing, the chances of automation are also changing. The world of programming is an evergreen field and the scope for improvement is limitless. The amalgam of coding and programming has to led to the creation of numerous wonders and has contributed to a more relaxed lifestyle. Some of the popular examples of the new world technology are Smart vehicles and cities, automated pet feeder, Wi-fi and remote-controlled vacuum cleaners, etc. 

One very popular method of interacting with the computer and getting it to perform certain tasks is – Python. This is an extremely versatile language and can be used in a wide variety of applications ranging from Machine Learning and Game Development to CNC machines. One question that pops in the mind of beginners is if Python is a scripting or programming language. The answer to that is not as simple as it seems since the line of difference is quite blurred. While some rules of python fall under the category of scripting languages, others make it fall into the category of programming. It is better for the user to understand the rules of each category separately and then come to a conclusion. 

Uses of programming language

  1. Game development: Playing games aside, developing them is also a ton of fun. Many people take up game development as a hobby and often end up making a career out of it. This is an extremely broad field with unlimited growth opportunities, provided you are absolutely invested in learning and expanding your knowledge. Game engine is a software that is required while making games. It defines the game, its functions and performance and is used to build elements like buildings and cities within the game. This invaluable tool has been used to make some of the most popular games across the world, like Fortnite and Epic Games. Usually, C++ and C# are used because a large amount of memory needs to be optimized in order to create rich graphics. However, C++ and C# are not the only languages to be used in this domain. Lua and Java are also popular. The language used depends heavily on the target engine and the platform it will be deployed on. 
  2. Web Development: Web Development has two major parts: front-end and back-end. The application that is being run on the browser, shows the styling, design and colour options is a part of the front-end development. It is also popularly referred to the client side of web development as it is related to the look of the page, from the client’s point of view. The most dominant languages in this field are HTML and CSS. Back-end development is responsible for routing and delivering the page that the user has asked for ( when they enter a URL). When a URL is entered, the database is checked for the website information first. It is then pulled and displayed for the client to view. There’s a larger pool of programming languages to choose from while working in the back-end part of the website development. Many claim that this is where most of the magic starts. Some of the popular languages are PHP, Ruby, C#, Erlang and Python. One can even choose to use Javascript (front-end language) in case they wish to. 
  3. App Development: Mobile apps are the boon of the 21st century. Almost everything we want is just a touch away. This field has progressed a lot over the last few decades from only showing the time and setting up an alarm to tracking calories spent, consumed and providing over 5000 books to read. However, creating these applications is not as easy as using them. A lot goes into making them user-friendly and effective. Creating them is tricky as there isn’t only one operating system for mobiles. A different operating system has different requirements that needs to be fulfilled in order for the app to run smoothly. The two most common operating systems are Android and IOS. They both require different languages. Android apps are created using Java and Kotlin, whereas IOS apps are created using Objective C and Swift. In the recent few years, developers have been using Javascript for both Android and IOS. 
  4. Machine Learning: It is a type of science that is used to make computers or devices perform certain functions without having to manually program it. A heavy focus is laid on computing algorithms and system data. Python is one of the best choices in this field and is a perfect tool for those who intend to begin their journey in ML. It offers a wide range of libraries that solve several computational problems. Some of the most popular libraries are Numpy (preferred for data analysis and high performance computing), Seaborn (data visualization), Pandas ( data analysis) and Matplotlib.

What is Python?

Python is one of the most popular and widely used scripting languages around the world. It was created by Guido van Rossum and released in 1991. Its popularity boosted over the last few decades, thereby pushing some languages into extinction. Stack Overflow conducted a survey in 2017 that showed that around thirty-two percent of developers used Python while twenty percent were keen to learn. It is popular among new developers mainly due to its clean and easy to understand syntax and its availability on different platforms like Linux, Windows, RaspberryPi, etc. It is an advanced language that works and provides services across several software platforms. Its presence in the web domain is quite strong as it possesses libraries that can be interfaced with web protocols and the internet. 

The most recent version of Python is Python 3. Python 2 is still widely popular and the only difference in them is a few changes in security. The wide range of tutorials available on the internet make the process of learning Python easier and more inviting as compared to other languages. Once armed with the basic understanding of the modules, concepts and syntaxes, developers can tinker with numerous mini projects. It can be used in several domains like Web Development (server-side), software development, system scripting, mathematics, etc. It can be used to perform functions like rapid prototyping as well. 

On several occasions Python has been identified as an Integration Language. The existing software components are joined or “glued” together using Python. It offers modules that make large components, written in languages like C or C++, be available to a Python Programmer. Python exception provides information related to the glue extensions that have been used to convert data types between Python and C or C++. It also checks for error and translation errors. It is preferred world-wide because several different programmers can work together to develop applications. One does not need to learn the low-level programming language AND the science behind it in order to deploy a project. 

Benefits of learning Python:

  1. As python programming can be used in a multitude of ways and in several domains, they are extremely popular and thus have a lot of job openings. The language is a favourite for most start-ups, especially when they are building up their digital profile. 
  2. Its efficiency and reduced development time make it one of the most favoured language in companies across the world. 
  3. The language is very easy to learn as compared to the other ones in the field. It is similar to the English language, due to which understanding and decoding becomes a lot easier. There are several tutorials available on the internet which make the learning journey considerably easier and smoother. Many professionals believe that learning the basics of Python takes around 5 to 6 weeks only, this is enough to get a good grasp of the working and syntaxes. 
  4. The versatile nature of python makes it the developers best friend. This why tech giants like Google and Facebook heavily concentrate on this language. Its versatility allows the developer to work on a wide variety of options. 
  5. As Python is an open-source software, it has a large user community and an equally large support community as well. Open-source means that anyone on the internet can make changes to the language. They can create extensions, modify them and make relevant changes to the libraries and frameworks as well. In case you feel that you are alone on you journey towards learning python, don’t worry, the Python Software Foundation provides you with the support you need. They link you with fellow enthusiasts and provide you with a platform to share your journey and experiences with others. 
  6. Python offers a lot of flexibility, quite similar to JavaScript. One can make use of its libraries and frameworks to fulfil their coding requirements. 
  7. Boring parts of your job like copying and dragging files, renaming them, etc can now be automated. Menial tasks that reduce your productivity can now be automated by writing a few scripts.  Automating processes with python saves a large amount of time. 

Is Python a scripting language or programming language?

To understand under which category does Python fall under, one needs to understand the working of a scripting language and a programming language. It is a general understanding that all scripting languages are programming languages. However, one major difference is their process of compilation. While the line of difference is quite blurred and some traditional points are no longer valid in 2021, there are a few other differences which sets them apart. To be a good programmer, one needs to have a clear understanding about the two terms. We will discuss these differences in detail. 

Scripting Language:

The instructions in a scripting language are written for a run-time environment. Now, what is a run time environment? When a program has been executed, it stays in an environment where the codes are monitored, tracked and checked for bugs. If the program crashes, the run-time environment provides details as to why the crash occurred. All the errors are detected at runtime. Suppose an error occurs at line 5, it will execute all the lines from the starting to line 5. If there is an error on line n, then the code will be executed from line 1 to line n-1.  Scripting Languages are interpreted and have absolutely no use of the compiler. They don’t demand distinct compilation steps. For example, you need to compile a code written in C. However, in some cases for JavaScript, you are not required to compile it at all. It runs without the being compiled. Scripts in Linus often start with a “hashbang”. For example: #!/bin/sh. This indicates that the execution of the script takes places in a traditional Unix scripting language called Bourne Shell. No compilation takes place here. 

The language has been designed in such a way that it can communicate with other languages effortlessly but need a parent program or exterior. In addition, it is also slower than most programming languages and cannot be used in case one needs to access the minute details of a hardware. Although they are considerably slower in comparison with other languages, they are most definitely a very important rule. The language is most commonly used to automated tasks and extract particular information from a bunch of data. For example: reading and extracting information like locations or email address from a file. Every time a developer runs them, it is processed from scratch. They also require a host and are not self-executable. 

Examples of scripting languages are:

  • Bash
  • Ruby
  • Node js
  • Perl
  • Lua
  • Shell
  • PHP

Advantages of a scripting language:

  • Easy to study: beginners find scripting languages easy to get into as they do not posses much hurdles and there’s not a lot of web technology to study. 
  • Quick editing: there’s a limited number of variables and data structures available, it is easier and efficient to use them.
  • Complex tasks can be performed in a few steps.
  • They don’t require explicit compilation steps.
  • Can be used to build complex pieces.

Disadvantages of a scripting language:

  • As they are not complied into machine code, they are a little slow in comparison to programming languages.
  • Difficult to debug
  • Requires a host
  • Line by line conversion
Programming Language:
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The performance of a machine or computer can be controlled with the help of a programming language. This computer language is used to develop scripts and software programs. The computing system can be either a real or a virtual machine. The languages specifies a set of instruction that has to be executed in order to produce a specific result. It converts a code into native machine language which further speeds up the process. Therefore, programming language is faster than scripting. In addition, it can also develop sets of instructions for the computers. The main feature of a programming language is its readability. It is usually simple and easy to learn. The efficiency should be sufficiently high such that it consumes as little memory as possible. 

The language is also well documented and therefore suitable for app development. As codes written in Python are simple (as compared to most of the languages), the cost of maintenance reduces significantly. The language supports several modules that in turn encourage program modularity. Unlink scripting language, a programming language does not need an interpreter because the programmed languages are compiled standalone form. A .exe file is created and the conversion takes place in a shot, does not have multiple, line by line steps. They take longer to develop as the codes is slightly complex in nature. Initially, products like PowerPoint and Microsoft Word were built using programming languages. In order to add new functionality and provide the users with more options and an interactive design, scripting languages came into the picture. 

Examples of programming languages:

  • C++
  • COBOL
  • Pascal
  • Kotlin
  • Scala
  • VC++
  • VB

Advantages of Programming Languages:

  • High speed
  • Easy to decipher and understand
  • Reduces cost of program maintenance

Disadvantages of Programming Languages:

  • Good understanding of complex mathematical concepts
  • Difficult to debug

How to download Python for different operating systems

Sometimes operating systems like MacOS and Linux have Python pre-installed in them. The version that comes pre-installed is called system python. Most of the time this version is out of date and might not even be the completely installed. The installation is a simple process. You will come across a folder – C:\ Users\ {UserName}\ AppData\ Local\Programs\ Python\ Python37 for Python 3.7.0 64 bit, when this happens select the checkbox that says Add python to PATH  

Install Python on windows:

First, download a web-based installer from https://www.python.org/downloads/windows into your local machine. Make sure you have an active internet connectivity throughout the process. To download the 64- bit installer click on this link – https://www.python.org/downloads/windows. You have the choice of deciding the location of the software you are installing. Once that has been decided and selected, click on Install. You can check of the installation has been completed successfully in a simple and easy way. Open the command window in Windows, type python—version or python -v and click enter. If it has been installed you will receive a text that indicates the installed version. 

Install Python for Mac OS X

You can get the official installer for Python from https://www.python.org/downloads/mac-osx . Choose the latest version under “Python Release for MAC OS X and double click it. When the installation wizard pops up, click on the button continue  until you reach the License and Agreement page. Then click on Agree. 

Install Python on Linux

Several Linux distributions come with a pre-installed version of Python and it is usually the Python 2 series. In order to get the more up to date version open the Linux terminal and type sudo apt-get update

Sudo apt-get install python3.7 python3-pip

Once installation starts, run the commands for Python 3.8 and pip3.

Conclusion:

Now, to answer the question- python is a programming language that can be used to scripting too. It is a difficult and confusing concept to grasp. Script languages are about writing a code, for example- a python code, that can be used to automate projects. These codes are simple to grasp and understand even if you are a beginner. While Python does not need a compiler, CPython’s main implementation is incomplete without one. While Python is completely capable of scripting, it is not always referred to as a “scripting language” (at least not in the traditional sense). Yes, it has a few features due to which it can fall under the category of being a scripted language but it is important to note that just because something is being interpreted, does not automatically mean it comes under that category. The main difference to remember is that both codes need to be converted into a machine language to be further processed and executed completely. In the case of a scripting language, there is no compiler. An interpreter converts the scripting language into the machine code. While in the case of a programming language, machine code is obtained using a compiler. Furthermore, scripting languages are popularly used in the web development domain while programming is used to develop projects. 

Also read Resolving Python Error – Valueerror Invalid Literal For Int() With Base 10

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