What is SQL?

SQL is a language that is used to manage data that is held in a relational database management system. It uses tables to manipulate and retrieve information from databases for analysis.

As an early coder, you will have likely heard the acronym SQL among your peers, colleagues or teachers. However, if you want to get to grips with database management, SQL is certainly something you will need to learn.

What does SQL stand for? 

SQL stands for Structured Query Language. Initially, the name of the language was meant to be Sequel (Structured English Query Language). However, due to copyright, the name was shortened to SQL. 

What is SQL?

SQL is the set of instructions used to interact with databases. Of course, this is a straightforward definition for such a complex subject.

Let’s go a little deeper. SQL is a special-purpose programming language designed for managing data stored in a relational database management system. SQL is the language with which a coder communicates with a database to manipulate its data. It is their guiding hand, voice, and fingertips dragging across a screen, helping the coder navigate and organise the data as they see fit. It is how a coder converses with the machine.

What is SQL used for?

SQL is used for database architecture and management. Thus, it is a vital tool used by any individual who seeks to pursue a career as a database administrator. For those unfamiliar with programming languages and website architecture, the work of SQL will often go unnoticed. Still, those who have seen behind the curtain will know it as one of the fundamental building blocks of modern database architecture.

Using SQL

SQL code is often divided into four main categories.

  1. ‘Queries are performed using the ubiquitous yet familiar SELECT statement, which is further divided into clauses, including SELECT, FROM, WHERE and ORDER BY.’
  2. ‘Data Manipulation Language (DML) is used to add, update or delete data and is actually a SELECT statement subset and is comprised of the INSERT, DELETE and UPDATE statements, as well as control statements, e.g., BEGIN TRANSACTION, SAVEPOINT, COMMIT and ROLLBACK.’
  3. ‘Data Definition Language (DDL) is used for managing tables and index structures. Examples of DDL statements include CREATE, ALTER, TRUNCATE and DROP.’
  4. ‘Data Control Language (DCL) is used to assign and revoke database rights and permissions. Its main statements are GRANT and REVOKE.’

Benefits of using SQL

Despite being one of the older languages having been designed at IBM in the early 1970s, SQL is as strong as ever due to its adaptability to evolving, ease of use, and the fact that it doesn’t overcomplicate things. It understands the vital but straightforward function it provides, and it goes about doing that. Where so many programming languages have failed to adapt over time, SQL has consistently provided what it has advertised and has cemented its place as the backbone of data architecture. Here are some of its benefits.

  1. Use & Access: 
    One of the significant benefits of the SQL database language is that it allows users to quickly insert, update, delete, or retrieve data with simple commands. Users can use administrative functions and manage a database a lot easier, and users can remotely access data by using SQL. 
  2. Universally Used
    Another benefit of SQL is is that it is widely used among various platforms. 

How long does it take to learn SQL?

If you already understand other languages and coding principles, then SQL is considered easy to pick up, and it can be learned within a couple of weeks. However, if you are new to coding, it can take longer. 

Learn to code

For many coders who have just begun to express their curiosity about the world of technology, introducing yourself to the specific tasks of so many programming languages can be a challenging task. However, the word task is itself a very valuable clue. These technologies are just like specific professions tasked with certain duties and expectations. They are designated with a specific purpose. There is an underlying functionality that makes these programming languages and software useful for modern coders. Otherwise, like the technologies of yesterday, they slip away unnoticed.

Consider the fact that typewriters, for the most part, are either being used by unemployed writers or by governments to counter the threat of international spying due to how obsolete they have become in a digital world. Or that the Wall Street Journal discussed the severe fall in landline phone use between 1996 and 2011, from 96% to 71%. When was the last time you used a public payphone, looked up a phone number in a phone book, or searched for a definition in an encyclopaedia? The world has never changed so much or so quickly.

Free Coding Challenge

If you wish to know more about learning to code, then try Code Institute’s free 5 Day Coding Challenge. After just one hour a day, over five days, you will have learned how to build your first web page. Register now through the form below. 


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