Sunday, June 7, 2009

What is SQL?

  • SQL stands for Structured Query Language
  • SQL allows you to access a database
  • SQL is an ANSI standard computer language
  • SQL can execute queries against a database
  • SQL can retrieve data from a database
  • SQL can insert new records in a database
  • SQL can delete records from a database
  • SQL can update records in a database
  • SQL is easy to learn

SQL is a Standard - BUT....

SQL is an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard computer language for accessing and manipulating database systems. SQL statements are used to retrieve and update data in a database. SQL works with database programs like MS Access, DB2, Informix, MS SQL Server, Oracle, Sybase, etc.

Unfortunately, there are many different versions of the SQL language, but to be in compliance with the ANSI standard, they must support the same major keywords in a similar manner (such as SELECT, UPDATE, DELETE, INSERT, WHERE, and others).

Note: Most of the SQL database programs also have their own proprietary extensions in addition to the SQL standard!

SQL Database Tables

A database most often contains one or more tables. Each table is identified by a name (e.g. "Customers" or "Orders"). Tables contain records (rows) with data.

Below is an example of a table called "Persons":

LastName FirstName Address City
Hansen Ola Timoteivn 10 Sandnes
Svendson Tove Borgvn 23 Sandnes
Pettersen Kari Storgt 20 Stavanger

The table above contains three records (one for each person) and four columns (LastName, FirstName, Address, and City).

SQL Queries

With SQL, we can query a database and have a result set returned.

A query like this:

SELECT LastName FROM Persons

Gives a result set like this:


Note: Some database systems require a semicolon at the end of the SQL statement. We don't use the semicolon in our tutorials.

SQL Data Manipulation Language (DML)

SQL (Structured Query Language) is a syntax for executing queries. But the SQL language also includes a syntax to update, insert, and delete records.

These query and update commands together form the Data Manipulation Language (DML) part of SQL:

  • SELECT - extracts data from a database table
  • UPDATE - updates data in a database table
  • DELETE - deletes data from a database table
  • INSERT INTO - inserts new data into a database table

SQL Data Definition Language (DDL)

The Data Definition Language (DDL) part of SQL permits database tables to be created or deleted. We can also define indexes (keys), specify links between tables, and impose constraints between database tables.

The most important DDL statements in SQL are:

  • CREATE TABLE - creates a new database table
  • ALTER TABLE - alters (changes) a database table
  • DROP TABLE - deletes a database table
  • CREATE INDEX - creates an index (search key)
  • DROP INDEX - deletes an index

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