What is SQL?

What is SQL

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SQL also called Standard Query Language is widely used in business and data administration. It can be described as a default tool that enables communication with a relational database.  

This article compiles together important information regarding SQL language like What is SQL database, what is SQL view, What is SQL language and more so that you have a complete idea on the subject. Starting with the basics on SQL moving on to its history or discussing its advantages, this article will help you gather all the information you have been searching for on the internet. Even if you are a beginner interested in SQL, you can get simplified definitions that will make your concepts clear. 

What is SQL? 

SQL stands for Structured Query Language. To understand this concept, let’s make this simple by giving an example. Let’s say there are two people and both of them know English. So, communicating will be a piece of cake for them. Now let’s consider another situation where person A knows English but person B doesn’t understand the language. In such a case, there will be no interaction possible.  

So, the basic requirement to understand each other is to have a common language. The same goes with SQL. Humans need a language to communicate with databases which can be achieved through Structured Language Query. 

Digging a little deeper with SQL database 

  • Standard Query Language or SQL is a computer programming language to operate Relational Databases. To be precise, it is a declarative language where the program specifies the immediate tasks that needs to be done. Despite being a declarative language, it also has procedural elements. 
  • The select or action query which is a request for retrieving information or performing additional operations in a database requires a predefined code to display results and SQL is exactly the thing that can help with that. In other words, with the help of an SQL program, you can store, manipulate and retrieve data in a relational database. 
  • SQL is a simple and powerful programming language. It uses quite simple English sentences and lines that are easy to interpret and operate with. A few such examples are the words select, insert, update, delete etc. SQL SELECT signifies retrieving data from the database tables; SQL INSERT clearly expresses that you need to add new data to the database tables. Similarly, SQL UPDATE is all about the changes you make to already existing data. Finally, SQL DELETE is used to delete data from the database tables. 
  • SQL is not exactly a programming language as you cannot build an application with it or build a webpage as you can with Java or Python. However, SQL is indeed a programming language when we refer to the definition: “a programming language is a vocabulary and a series of grammatical norms for instructing a computer to perform the given tasks”. With a query, you give instructions to display results or make necessary changes in the relational database that suits your needs. 

The basic functions of SQL are: 

  • Add data to database tables 
  • Modify and manipulate data in existing SQL database tables 
  • Delete data from SQL database tables 
  • Execute queries against a database 
  • Retrieve data from a database 
  • Update records in a database 
  • Create database structure 
  • Modify database structure 
  • Deleting database tables and other objects 
  • Create views in a database 
  • Set permissions on views, tables, procedures etc. 

History of SQL 

  • SQL was developed by IBM developers Donald D. Chamberlin and Raymond F. Boyce in the early 1970s. Initially it was named SEQUEL (Structured English Query Language) but during that period, Sequel was already a trademark of an engineering company in United Kingdom. The name of the company was Hawker Siddeley Dynamics Engineering Limited Company.  
  • As a result, SEQUEL got rid of its vowels and was changed to its present-day acronym SQL which stands for Structured Query Language. SQL is still pronounced as “sequel”. 
  • SQL was developed after the release of Edgar Frank Codd’s influential paper titled “A Relational Model of Data for Large Shared Data Banks“ in the Association of Computer Machinery (ACM) journal, Communications of the ACM. 
  • The main idea behind the paper was that Codd wanted hierarchical data structures to be replaced with simple tables consisting of rows and columns representing different categories. Similar data can then be grouped under their representatives. 
  • The SQL model was not entirely based on Codd’s model, but still it managed to gather more fame and was widely used by users. As per the author of the Oracle Quick Guides, the original version of SQL was created to modify and retrieve data stored in the original Quasi relational database management system (System R) of IBM. 
  • SQL appeared in the view of the public many years later. In 1979, a company named Relational Software, later named Oracle, introduced the first commercially available implementation of SQL and named it Oracle V2. 
  • It wasn’t until several years later, however, that the SQL language was made publicly available. In 1979, a company called Relational Software, which later became Oracle, commercially released its own version of SQL, called Oracle V2. 
  • The Standard Query Language then became the standard language of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in the year 1986 and of the International Organization for Standardization in the following year. Most SQL vendors base their programs on the approved version of the ANSI and major ones decide to modify the language as per their desires. The model is now the definitive model for RDBMS. 

Features of SQL 

The three main features of SQL are: 

  1. SQL has well-defined standards which means when you write a query, you need to specify the set of actions that need to be taken. Developers need to define the standards through which a query will be written. 
  2. SQL can be used to create multiple views.  
  3. SQL is portable in nature. The term portable in context of SQL means a query that is created in one system can be executed in another without making any changes to the format. However, the one rule to follow is that the environment setup of the two systems needs to be same. 

What is SQL view? 

  • SQL view is a virtual or temporary table that consists of rows and columns just like a regular one. It basically contains data from one or multiple tables. SQL view is a widely-used database object in SQL Server.  
  • A view contains a query to merge multiple tables and produce the data in an output table, a virtual one. The fields in a SQL view are real fields from one or multiple views in a database. 
  • You can add statements and functions to an SQL and view and display the data as if the data were coming from a single table. To create a view, you need to click on the “Create View” statement. 
  • These virtual tables are a great way to optimize your database experience. SQL views are best when it comes to defining a table without putting any pressure on the storage capacity. They also boost data analysis and can equip your data with additional security. 

Advantages of SQL 

Now that you have a fair idea of SQL, let us look how it proves advantageous to users: 

  • Higher Processing Speed: SQL displays information quickly from a database. Large amounts of data can easily be retrieved at a quicker pace. It is a highly efficient mode of communicating with the relational database. 
  • Minimal coding requirement: Operating SQL doesn’t require coding skills. Coding requires lots of practice and technical know-how and is even difficult to interpret. On the other hand, SQL language is very easy to learn and deal with as you use simple keywords to operate while retrieving data from the database. There is even minimal use of special characters. Moreover, it can be learnt in a matter of a few days. 
  • Simple Data Mining: With the help of several queries, you can sort and filter the data making it more useful and relevant. This action also reduces redundancies. SQL helps in trashing the duplicate content in a database management system loosening storage capacity. A familiar user of SQL will find navigation simple to use. 
  • Simple to use: It is user-friendly and accessible across various platforms. 
  • Easy Data Manipulation: As stated in the functions, data manipulation is super simple with SQL. The basic words to interact with the database are words like update, delete, create etc. With queries, you can easily change the uploaded information and go dynamic as you like. 
  • Restricted access: SQL server is widely considered a safe and secure database. The system can be secured with a password ensuring limited accessibility and authorization. Therefore, It has features of data encryption making it impossible for malicious users to gain access to data without formal consent. 
  • Enhanced reliability: No matter how complex the query, SQL will deliver accurate results and is therefore highly reliable. It is much more efficient when compared to other Database Management Systems (DBMS). 
  • Business solution: SQL is a highly interactive computer language that can be utilized to improve communications in business. This quality allows no room for miscommunications or misunderstandings of any sort. 

Final Words

SQL has many advantages and is used widely in different fields. As per Stack Overflow, SQL is the third most popular programming language after HTML or CSS and JavaScript. There are different job opportunities when it comes to taking SQL lessons. If you are thinking of making your mark in SQL careers, job positions like Business Analyst, Data Scientist, software engineer are waiting for you. 

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