Today, Vikram shows us the basics of a database and are introduced to concepts like Database Management Systems and Relational Database Management Systems. We are also given a thorough overview of MySQL and its features. This excerpt comes from chapter one of MySQL: The Complete Reference, by Vikram Vaswani (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN 0-07-222477-0, 2004).
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what MySQL is and isn’t, let’s take a little time out to answer a basic question: What’s a database, anyhow?
A database, fundamentally, is a collection of data organized and classified according to some criteria. The traditional analogy is that of a filing cabinet organized into drawers (see the following illustration), with each drawer holding files related to a particular subject; these files may be further classified according to a particular set of criteria (alphabetically, by color, by numeric code, and so on). This organization of information into drawers and files makes it easy to retrieve specific bits of information quickly— to lay your hands on a particular piece of information, you pull open the appropriate drawer and select the file(s) matching your criteria.
An electronic database helps you organize information and provides the tools necessary to access specific bits of it quickly and efficiently. The drawers that contain the files are referred to in database parlance as tables, the files themselves are called records, the act of pulling out information is referred to as a query, and the resulting data is referred to as a result set. The following illustration shows how you query the database (here, a filing cabinet) to retrieve information. You’ll be seeing a lot of these terms in this book, and you’ll get used to them gradually, so don’t worry if they seem a little foreign at the moment.
Remember: this is chapter one of MySQL: The Complete Reference, by Vikram Vaswani (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, ISBN 0-07-222477-0, 2004). Vikram is the founder of Melonfire, and has had numerous articles featured on Dev Shed. Buy this book now.