9 Scripting Languages You Need To Know - InformationWeek
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11/22/2015
12:05 PM
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9 Scripting Languages You Need To Know

Scripting languages can bring new functions to applications and glue complex systems together. Here are nine that could hold the keys to your next project.
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(Image: BenjaminNelan via Pixabay)

(Image: BenjaminNelan via Pixabay)

When you need to order a computer around at the hardware level, nothing beats a good programming language. Sometimes, though, you just need to make something happen and you don't care how many layers come between your command and the computer's response. When that's the case, a scripting language can be your best friend.

Scripting languages aren't new. They've been around since the glory days of the mainframe. Even then, they made things happen by bossing other software around. It might have been the operating system, a job loader, or another application, but the result was the same -- a set of operations completed to produce the desired results.

The nine scripting languages here are most similar in their importance and familiarity. Each is likely to have special significance for a different group of IT professionals, the differences showing up in the systems used (and sometimes in the era when a professional learned his or her profession.)

For example, if you have distinct memories of keeping decks of JCL punched cards wrapped by rubber bands in your Samsonite briefcase, then you've just established the age during which you learned to code. (My briefcase, by the way, was the thinner, light-brown model, and I kept my JCL decks close to my green IBM flow-chart template. Get off my lawn.)

[See 10 Free Tools For Productive Programming.]

Scripting languages have proven their utility by sticking around. Javascript and PHP are heavily used today, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a working Unix admin who doesn't have a stash of Bash scripts at her or his disposal.

Let's take a look at these languages and the times when they might be useful -- if for nothing more than sparking nostalgic conversation. Do you have a history with any of these? Are you still using one or more of these scripting tools? Did I miss an important language in building this collection? Let me know -- I'm looking forward to some carefully scripted comments down below.

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Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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Wolf29
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Wolf29,
User Rank: Strategist
12/5/2015 | 7:48:13 PM
Re: scripting and compliling and studio
I believe there is a product called Windows server2008 Core, which is like a gui terminal window front-end.  Semi-mythical beast.  have never seen one, but colleagues have mentioned it.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
11/27/2015 | 4:39:56 PM
Re: scripting and compliling and studio
@dried_squid, if Microsoft has brought a "GUI-less" version of Windows Server to market, I'm not aware of it. It's the sort of product that would be of tremendous interest to cloud service providers, so it will be interesting to see if it ever surfaces! As for the GUI versus CLI benefits, my experience is that CLI is faster if you know exactly what you're doing and need to make specific changes on a repetitive basis. If you're trying to figure something out, or need to do one thing a single time, GUI works pretty darned well. And that glass ceiling? I think it was a very real thing five or ten years ago. Now, GUI knowledge is the default and will get you the job in lots and lots of places.
sy27295
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sy27295,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/27/2015 | 11:10:10 AM
Re: Powershell Missing
EXCUSE Meeeeeeeeee!

Incoming data is usually in Excel, outgoing data going to users is almost always Excel

Have you ever done very detailed formatting and data manupulation and dynamic formula creation in PowerShell controlling office apps?  My God.....poor VBA, never deserves credit even in Redmond.

I see Powershell as completely replacing VBA. It's far better to access the Office environment via the .NET library than be restricted to running in any single environment. There may well be slightly steeper learning curve but it's well worthwhile in terms of long term productivity.
TechnoCharles
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TechnoCharles,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/26/2015 | 8:29:05 PM
Re: Powershell Missing
I see Powershell as completely replacing VBA. It's far better to access the Office environment via the .NET library than be restricted to running in any single environment. There may well be  slightly steeper learning curve but it's well worthwhile in terms of long term productivity.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2015 | 8:29:59 PM
AppleScript

I have recently become responsible for a company full of Macs !    Can you hear the pain in my voice ?  

Anyhow, as a result AppleScript caught my eye, something I will have to look into for sanity sake.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2015 | 8:26:25 PM
Re: Python
Thanks for the explanation Curtis, you have answered my question as well.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2015 | 8:24:44 PM
Re: Python

Thanks Curtis for this informative piece on scripting languages.   I am particularly interested in Bash, PHP and Python, which I am surprised was not listed.  Any reason for that ?

dried_squid
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dried_squid,
User Rank: Moderator
11/25/2015 | 6:19:21 PM
Re: scripting and compliling and studio
Curt Franklin, a while back, I thought I read that Microsoft was planning on offering server software at a lower cost without the GUI. Because everything you could do in the GUI was available in Powershell. Has that happened?

In my experience, it's simple and smaller to do documentation without printscreens. Alse faster to maintain. To me, the GUI and command line offer different advantages. Especially for an admin.

I suspect that Microsoft is implying that knowledge of both is better value than arguing about which is "better".

Is "easy to use" a glass ceiling?


Happy Thanksgiving.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
11/25/2015 | 5:49:59 PM
Re: scripting and compliling and studio
@dried_squid, thanks for a thoughtful post! Every now and again I'll sit down to learn (or re-acquaint myself with) a tool. Even if I don't end up using it for a lot of work I find that stretching my thought processes to include a new language helps me with my existing work.

And I think we're going to see more languages leaning on a visual interface. It will be interesting to see how that has an impact on applications.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
11/25/2015 | 5:46:42 PM
Re: Scripting on Windows
@ewaldman630, you're the second person to mention Powershell so I really will have to include it in a future article. As for VB, I did include VBA, so don't I get at least a little credit? <grin>

I knew I was going to leave some significant scripting languages off the list: I think I could have done "73 Scripting Languages You Should Know" and still have missed some. It's good for me to hear from everyone which languages they think are important (and why): It really will help me on future articles...and the conversation is fun!
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