SQL, or Sequel, is a programming language explicitly designed for working with data, databases, and similar applications.
Many businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, realize the power of data and what it can be used for in today’s landscape. It’s necessary to run operations, understand the markets and customers, make more informed decisions, and come up with new ideas. Data is at the heart of all business. It’s constantly collected, processed, analyzed, and manipulated, but it all needs somewhere to go. Most importantly, programmers need a way to work with that stored and structured data. That’s where SQL comes into the picture.
It should come as no surprise then that SQL developers are in high demand. But even with a basic understanding, that doesn’t necessarily explain what SQL is, what it’s used for, or why it’s so important.
What Does SQL Stand for?
Sequel, or SQL, is actually an abbreviation. The real term is Structured Query Language, which helps explain what the language was created for. It’s for structuring or managing data, often contained within large databases. It facilitates the communication between systems, databases, and software.
What is SQL Exactly?
SQL is a programming language such as Java, C++, or Python. But it has a specific purpose, compared to general-purpose languages, which can be used for a lot of different things. Because of that, SQL is what’s called a fourth-generation language or 4GL. It’s used exclusively to store, retrieve, organize, and manipulate data.
Websites, web applications, mobile apps, and software all collect data and utilize it to empower the user experience and carry out various computations or actions. That data is stored in something on the backend called a database. For example, social media networks collect information from users and store that data in a database. In order to manage it, reference it, recall it, or even manipulate it, SQL is essentially used. It’s the language that most programmers rely on to work with stored data and digital information.
Where Did SQL Come from?
SQL was created in the 1970s by IBM researchers to work with a proprietary system, System R, which was IBM’s database management platform at the time. Initially, it was named Structured English Query Language or SEQUEL.
Eventually, other companies followed suit, like Relational Software, Inc. which is known as Oracle today. They created and released a commercial version of SQL. It grew in popularity and then in the late 1980s, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) alongside the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) adopted SQL and solidified it as the top data and database language.
Of course, data has only grown in importance over the years, and these days you just cannot do business without it, or without a system for collecting and leveraging it. That’s why SQL is so important, and why experienced developers are in such high demand.
What’s the Best Way to Learn SQL?
Whether you’re looking for a free MySQL tutorial, or you want to take a beginner-friendly SQL knowledge quiz, there are resources available. The trick is to start small, as with most languages, even if you have prior coding experience. It’s always best to review or learn the basics and then work your way up from there.
Each programming language is structured a little differently than the others, and SQL is no exception to that rule. But because of what SQL is used for, and also because it’s a 4GL, you may need to delve a little deeper into the foundational elements before you can begin working with it.
We always recommend starting with a beginner course, through your educational platform of choice, and then moving on to intermediate and advanced topics after that. Courses come in many formats, too, including text and quiz-based ones, online videos, live conferences, and so on. You can find courses at Udemy, Codecademy, SkillShare, Treehouse, and many other places.
What is MySQL?
MySQL is the database software used to store information. It is the software, while SQL is the language used to develop and work with the actual software. They work together to provide, manage, and manipulate computer databases.
There are other SQL software choices, like PostgreSQL, NoSQL, and Microsoft SQL Server, so MySQL is not the only option.
As you learn SQL, you will learn about MySQL and may also have an opportunity to work with the software. There are many reasons why you would want to learn both SQL and MySQL, for example, perhaps you want to work as a backend developer or database engineer? There are a wide range of benefits to working with MySQL.
If you intend to learn or work with web applications, or you want to start a career in web development, you will eventually need knowledge and experience working with SQL. Consider this early on, because SQL has its own markup, and it’s quite a bit different than other languages you might already be familiar with.
How Long Will it Take to Learn SQL?
To be honest, it all depends on you and your persistence and willingness to learn. If you follow a curriculum and complete the entire course you could theoretically be ready to work with the SQL language in a matter of weeks. As for how long it will take you to learn the language and then secure a career in the development world, that’s too difficult to say because there are so many variables. The good news is that SQL developers are in extremely high demand right now, so if you stay on track, you will have a lot of opportunities available when you’re ready.
Where Do I Go from Here?
If you want to learn more about SQL, you can check out our list of the 50 Best Websites to Learn MySQL. It’s a massive list of resources where you can learn more about the software, the language, and the field of database and web development as a whole.
Again, we recommend starting with a beginner course, even if you have prior programming experience. SQL is a very different language than most others. For that reason, you shouldn’t dive right into intermediate courses or concepts.
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