Structured Query Language (SQL)

Definition - What does Structured Query Language (SQL) mean?

Structured Query Language (SQL) is a standard computer language for relational database management and data manipulation. SQL is used to query, insert, update and modify data. Most relational databases support SQL, which is an added benefit for database administrators (DBAs), as they are often required to support databases across several different platforms.

First developed in the early 1970s at IBM by Raymond Boyce and Donald Chamberlin, SQL was commercially released by Relational Software Inc. (now known as Oracle Corporation) in 1979. The current standard SQL version is voluntary, vendor-compliant and monitored by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Most major vendors also have proprietary versions that are incorporated and built on ANSI SQL, e.g., SQL*Plus (Oracle), and Transact-SQL (T-SQL) (Microsoft).

Techopedia explains Structured Query Language (SQL)

One of the most fundamental DBA rites of passage is learning SQL, which begins with writing the first SELECT statement or SQL script without a graphical user interfaces (GUI). Increasingly, relational databases use GUIs for easier database management, and queries can now be simplified with graphical tools, e.g., drag-and-drop wizards. However, learning SQL is imperative because such tools are never as powerful as SQL.

SQL code is divided into four main categories:

  • Queries are performed using the ubiquitous yet familiar SELECT statement, which is further divided into clauses, including SELECT, FROM, WHERE and ORDER BY.
  • 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.
  • Data Definition Language (DDL) is used for managing tables and index structures. Examples of DDL statements include CREATE, ALTER, TRUNCATE and DROP.
  • Data Control Language (DCL) is used to assign and revoke database rights and permissions. Its main statements are GRANT and REVOKE.
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