In today’s digital world, enormous amounts of electronic data are being gathered, processed, and stored in databases every single day. These databases can be used for anything – websites, inventory records, vendor and customer information, or even for recording contact information such as phone numbers. If the transformation of raw data into information that supports decision making is the end goal, knowing how to work with such databases is imperative. Here’s where SQL comes in. An acronym for Structured Query Language, SQL is a domain-specific programming language that is used to communicate with a database. In order to better understand SQL, one needs to understand exactly what it is used for. SQL allows you to create, manage, and manipulate the data contained within a database according to your needs and requirements. Here’s what you can accomplish with SQL:
The data in a relational database is stored in the form of tables. SQL commands allow you to create a host of components such as tables, schemas, stored procedures, indexes, domains, character sets, or even new databases altogether. Apart from being able to create, SQL also has the ability to remove existing components, modify the properties of a database object, rename a database table, and delete all the data from a table. Data Definition Language (DDL) statements, which are a part of SQL, are responsible for accomplishing these tasks. SQL is your steering wheel; it allows you to define the data you’re using however you need to define it.
Once you’ve defined your data, you need to manage it. There is little use in maintaining a database if one cannot make any changes to it. With the help of Data Manipulation Language (DML) syntax elements, SQL can select, insert, delete, and update data records from a table in any database. This gives you the flexibility to modify a database as you see fit. However, unlike DDL, DML can only alter the data that is stored in a database, and not the underlying objects or schema.
With so much information stowed away in databases, protection of sensitive data is of paramount importance. In order to increase security, avoid misuse of data, and prevent unauthorized access to important data, SQL enables you to effectively control the access to such data in databases using one of its components, the Data Control Language (DCL). With the DCL syntax, one can easily grant or revoke permissions to specific users to access or modify the database.
Any modification made to a database can potentially corrupt the entire data, rendering it unusable, so having functionality for the maintenance of data integrity in any database is crucial. SQL, through Transaction Control Language (TCL) commands, lets you avoid this unfavorable situation by allowing you to manage the changes you make through DML statements. In addition to being able to permanently save transactions, SQL also allows you to identify points in a transaction so that you can rollback and restore the database to that point in the case of an error or a problem.
The list does not end here, as these are only a few of the many uses of SQL options. Being the most widely used programming language with respect to databases, SQL is a huge concept and is extremely powerful. Its capabilities are far-reaching and deliver game-changing results, making everyone’s job a little easier.