SQL Basics: Beginners Guide To Structured Query Language

sqlbasicsMost of the dynamic content you find on the web today comes from a Structured Query Language (SQL) database. These databases store the text, settings, and links to other resources in tables. When a page is requested, a scripting language quickly collects these resources and creates the HTML that is sent to the browser. This makes it very easy to update and expand your website, but it also requires more server resources and advanced knowledge of databases in web design. You can choose between open source and closed source SQL platforms when creating your web app or site. However, these choices can have a major impact on your finished product. It’s best to start with some understanding of what SQL is even before you begin to learn and develop your database.

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What Is SQL?

Structured Query Language, in it’s purest form, is a framework defined by ISO/IEC 9075-1:2011. You can learn all about the standard form of SQL from a course about databases for beginners. However, each vendor includes their own added features and enhancements that can make their particular brand of SQL just a little bit better for your specific project needs. However, these variations from the ISO standard can also lead to vendor lock-in, when it becomes too difficult to modify your website or app to use a different database system.

Open Source SQL

One of the benefits of working with open source SQL database systems is that, even if you lock-in with a vendor, the database system is free and open to your code contributions. Should you find that a particular function does not work properly, you have the ability to fix the bug and submit your changes to the open source project to be included in future versions of the database system. This is not possible with closed source SQL database systems.


When you need an enterprise class SQL database system then you’ll want to use PostgreSQL. PostgreSQL is easier to port to the closed source database system developed by Oracle if you decide to do so in the future. PostgreSQL is a more robust and stable database system, but MySQL is known for is speed and popularity.

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The benefit of sticking with the most common database system on the web is that you can easily find a course that covers MySQL. This database system is so common that it is a primary component of the popular LAMP stack installed on web servers everywhere. However, MySQL deviates a great deal from the ISO standard for SQL and this can make your project incompatible with other database systems. When you’re developing a content management system or other project where speed is more important than accuracy, MySQL is the way to go. On the other hand, if accuracy is more important than speed you may want to stick with PostgreSQL.

Closed Source SQL

The two most popular closed source SQL database systems are produced by Oracle and Microsoft. There are several classes available for studying Oracle database systems and Microsoft SQL server. These database systems are great for enterprise level data management, but you need to consider the long term cost of using a closed source database system. Should you run into a situation where some function of the database system is not working properly, you will need to wait until the software vendor repairs that problem. In the meantime, you will need to work around it and come back to the problem when an update becomes available. Often these updates require the purchase of a new version of the database system. Closed source SQL database systems trade monetary costs for greater stability and performance. In the end, you need to consider which type of database system will match with your specific project requirements.