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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)

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 executive editor for technical content at InformationWeek. In this role he oversees product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he acts as executive producer for InformationWeek Radio and Interop Radio where he works with … View Full Bio


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