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SQL at a Glance Part 1

Sunday, September 14th, 2014 by Servage

Understanding Databases

Today we are progressively increasing volumes of data on the web because we are interactive more than before. Our online businesses are growing so our e-commerce websites have huge volumes of traffic and numerous products. All such activities push us to interact with databases frequently because our data is stored always in various forms of databases.

Technically databases are nothing but structured storage of data with security and durability at heart of it. Since all computer languages are dealing with data, but have only executable commands. For instance, variables have name and value to store in memory, but there is no command to pull or push data in a big database in very organized manners. Therefore, retrieving and storing data in database needs different sorts of language and that is called query language in technical terms.

In short, if you want to be a master in programming languages, web-programming languages in particular, and perform all tasks independently, you need to learn various query languages or structured query language (SQL) at very basic step. Therefore, with knowledge of SQL you can access and manipulate databases with ease and secure manner. However, before jumping at the SQL, we should have enough understanding of databases otherwise, we won’t be able to understand many SQL command and their ways of functions so let’s first know the databases.

Something about Databases

As stated before our databases are structured storage and mainly they are in form of tables. If you are familiar with spreadsheets like MS Excel, you know what a column is and a row is. Fundamentally, column is consisting of attribute so different column has different attributes. Each row enables us to place the values of that attributes defined in columns. Therefore, each row is corresponding with records in simple terms. These columns and rows are forming tables from small-scale to very large-scale.

Why Not Spreadsheets

For limited usage, we can store our data in such desktop spreadsheets and create sizable database to manage data manually or with the help of low scale software or with some spreadsheets commands themselves. However, when size of spreadsheet or data is bloating in numbers in many large enterprises they need professional database services to accomplish their day-to-day tasks either on intranet network or mostly on Internet.

Moreover, spreadsheet won’t let you perform many advance tasks such as:

  • We can’t update data record in bulk automatically and need manual work for longer duration that is costlier at the end of the day
  • From spreadsheet you can retrieve data only from the listed attributes/columns or rows, but unable to match certain criteria for data retrieving or storing
  • We are unable to put cross-reference records in different tables because we only can deal with a single table at a time and defining keys and executing commands are not easy
  • Spreadsheets are offering unique ID for each record instead of, IDs for specific keys. Thus, it consumes tons of useless memories
  • There are no ways to perform intricate aggregate calculations at advance levels in spreadsheets. Moreover, you can’t do things that you can do with advance databases using SQL.

Types of Databases

Therefore, we can classify database software in two main categories:

  1. A basic that includes desktop databases like Microsoft Access (not Excel!) and FileMaker Pro.
  2. Another is server database such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, etc.

No doubt, as web programmers, our intentions are not to dive deeper into the databases, but we need to have superficial knowledge in order to understand the way of functions of SQL command in next part of this series.
References & More Reading
Introduction to SQL
What is a Database?
Databases for Beginners

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