Learning SQL

How long does it take to learn SQL?

A relational database is one of the common databases found in the industry to save and query information. In order to communicate with such database, a querying language was developed by IBM and later standardized by ANSI and ISO: the querying language is called Structured Query Language. This is designed to query and manipulate the data in a non-procedural way without the necessity to make complete programs.

Learning the basic fundamentals of SQL is relatively easy and it requires only a very few hours to learn such basic querying statements. In fact, it is suggested that people working on datasets learn the basics of such language. In fact, programs that uses datasets such as Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) also uses SQL syntax to query their datasets.

Complex operations such as creating databases, tables and other complex procedures requires advanced knowledge of the language.

SQL syntax is applied in different fields especially when dealing with datasets. This allows you to extract information from your data in a structured manner.

What do you need to get started?

SQL is a language for manipulating databases and processing the information contained within them. It performs actions such as saving, retrieving, modifying and deleting information by means of queries. In the same way, it allows you to create structures to be used as tables and materialized views.

Microsoft Access is a great program to start learning the basics of SQL syntax. This will provide you a visual representation of the tables as well as accessing, updating, and manipulating your data. 

If you would like to take this further and start learning how to create and administer a relational database, then we recommend that as a starting point, you begin by learning to use MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server. MySQL is an open-source database and you need to download an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) so help you running queries. When downloading Microsoft SQL Server, it automatically downloads SQL Server Management Studio for you. The SQL syntax is the same for both databases, however they might slightly how to administer the database. We find that Microsoft provides a more informative and updated documentation on their website. However, certain functionality might not be available for community edition users.

Both of such products are free and are frequently used in the IT industry. Both programs have an integrated intellisense which will correct and highlight any errors in your syntax. Also, these will provide you with a more visual representation of the database, making it easier for novice users to model data, understand how to link table data and perform basic clauses.

In addition, searching for database exercises will help you in your evolution from a beginner to an advanced level. Trick: you can write down the commands and then just copy them every time you need them.

The utility of learning SQL:

Every system needs a way to store their data. Relational databases are one of the most frequently used databases due their querying capabilities that they offer. However, today we can see a trend where non-relational databases, namely NoSQL databases, are also incorporating the SQL syntax as a way to query their databases. This can be seen on Couchbase and CosmosDB. This shows that learning SQL syntax is heading a long way forward and continues to evolves with time.

Where to learn SQL?

There are many online course providers offering a high-quality SQL curriculum. In our experience, we are convinced that Pluralsight offers a very informative best courses in both both relational database and NoSQL. Moreover, Pluralsight also provide courses on how to manage and administer the cloud version Microsoft SQL Server, called Microsoft Azure SQL.

Check out our review of the Pluralsight SQL courses or check out their website right away.

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Post Author: Keith

Keith is a senior software engineer who loves distributed systems and event-driven microservices.

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