Database administrators – or those that handle the administrative tasks associated with running a database system, rely on a database programming language to issue queries to retrieve and manipulate data from their respective database. Database programmers, data analysts, data modelers, and anyone who needs to access the information stored in a relational database management system (RDBMS) use some form of what is known as SQL – or Structured Query Language. In this database development tutorial, we discuss what SQL is, its benefits, and disadvantages.
Before we begin learning about SQL, a quick question: do you prefer to learn in a classroom or online course setting? If so, we have a tutorial highlighting the Best Online Courses to Learn SQL that can help you get started down the right path.
Structured Query Language (SQL) is a programming language used to issue commands to a database system for purposes of database management, adding information, manipulating data, or for the retrieval of data from a table. SQL, in particular, is the standard language used by database administrators and database programmers to interact with relational database management systems, which include:
It should be noted that many of the above RDBMS have their own version or flavor of SQL that are proprietary to each database environment. That being said, they do share much of the same syntax and statements that standard SQL does, including statements like:
SQL is a powerful database programming language and a standard of both the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Organization for Standardization. Primarily, the language is used to manipulate the data in a relational database in some fashion, which can include, but is not limited to, the following:
Read: How to Use the SQL SELECT Statement
A relational database system – also known as a RDBMS – is a database system that is based on relationships between data points in a table structure, which is made up of columns, rows, and individual cells. Rows run horizontal in a relational database, while columns run vertically. Each row consist of one or more cells, dependent upon how many columns exist. For example, consider a database table that contains the names of customers and their phone numbers. In such a database, each row would contain a cell for first name, last name, and phone number. Each of these cells would be related to one another, because they are within the same row. Each of these data points, further, would correspond to a column, which would represent each data point type.
Any data point or cell under the First Name column would be equated to a person’s first name. Likewise, any cell under the Last Name column would be considered a person’s last name, and so forth.
In addition, tables within a relational database system can also be related and the data within individual tables can be related to one another. Building upon our table of names and phone numbers, we might also have a table full of social security numbers. A database administrator could then create a relationship between the First Name, Last Name, and Social Security data so that the information would be related and considered part of the same row (essentially, if not in reality), without the data having to reside within the same table.
The reason for this separation of data into separate tables can be plentiful. Sometimes data is kept in table for security and data integrity reasons; other times, new data points might be added after a table structure has been created, and it becomes easier to store the new information in a separate table.
There are many benefits of using SQL for database administrators and database programmers. These include the following:
SQL is not a perfect language by any means, but it ranks above other database languages. Still, it does have its disadvantages, which include:
Read more SQL tutorials and database development tips.
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