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Speaking SQL (part 1)

Structured Query Language is the language used to communicatewith databases of all shapes, sizes and varieties. If you're building a Webapplication which needs to communicate with a database, and don't knowwhere to start, this article will get you up to speed on the basics ofcreating tables and inserting data into them.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. Speaking SQL (part 1)
  2. Turntables And Records
  3. Relationships
  4. Not Your Type?
  5. Changing Things Around
  6. Termination With Extreme Prejudice
  7. Old Data For New
By: icarus, (c) Melonfire
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 7
December 21, 2000

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In the Internet age, information is no longer represented in filing cabinets; instead, it's stored as digital ones and zeroes in databases, data storage "containers" that impose a certain structure on information, so as to simplify the task of managing and using it.

Of course, putting data into a database is only half the battle - the other half involves using it effectively. Which brings us to the point of this article - using SQL, or Structured Query Language, to communicate with a database in order to extract the data you require from it.

Over the next few pages, I'll be explaining some of the basic SQL commands to create and enter information into a database, together with examples that should make things clearer. In case you've never used a database before, or the thought of learning another language scares you, don't worry - SQL is considerably simpler than most programming languages, and you should have no trouble picking it up.

Onwards!{mospagebreak title=The Tools} Before we can get started, you need to get a database up and running - your SQL commands will be interpreted by this, and appropriate results generated.

Now, there are a number of database engines out there; you've probably heard of Oracle (for large, data-intensive Web applications) and Microsoft Access (for desktops and servers). Unfortunately, though both these come with powerful capabilities, neither of them is free - a fact which displeases many of those used to open-source software.

However, there is a database engine out there that is both free and effective, and will serve our purpose for this tutorial - it's called mySQL and you can download it from http://www.mysql.com/ (it's available for both UNIX and Windows platforms). Once you've downloaded and installed it (or had your network administrator do it for you), you're ready to begin your first foray into the world of SQL.

 
 
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