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O'Reilly Network: Getting Started with SQL

Oct 29, 2000, 13:22 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by John Paul Ashenfelter)

"Hopefully, the inaugural column convinced you that SQL is a skill you want to have under your belt. In case you missed it, here's a quick synopsis: SQL is a database manipulation language, pure and simple. It is a rich language -- it has a number of commands for managing the database structure itself, powerful functions, many data types, and other useful features -- but at its most basic level, SQL is simply about three things:

  1. adding data,
  2. finding data, and
  3. changing data."
"Nothing too mind-bending there! Of course there is plenty of power under the hood for gurus, but even a newbie can get an enormous amount of work accomplished with a few simple commands. So where to begin...? A good first step is choosing a SQL environment."

"Before we can talk about SQL commands, we need an environment that understands SQL commands -- basically, we need a relational database management system, or RDBMS. And you thought I was going to say we need a database! Well, we do need a database -- but databases (files or filesystems) are created by RDBMS tools like Oracle, MySQL, and all the other programs that you probably call a "database." An RDBMS provides an environment that can be used to create and manipulate databases as well as the tools to manipulate the data in the database. One ground rule for aboutSQL -- when I say database, I always mean a relational database. For the record, there are other models like network, hierarchical, and object, to name a few, but SQL is all about relational databases."

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