3.3: SQL Language


So far we've seen some different ways of storing data:
  • Data stored in a plain file, separated by line endings (\n)
  • Data stored as JSON
  • Binary data, such as images
Here we’ll be introducing databases as a store for our data.
A database is a collection of tables. A table is made up of columns, rows, and cells - like an Excel spreadsheet. Each row in a database table has a unique identifier, known as the primary key.
A database where different tables are linked together is called a relational database, and this is what we’ll be using. Relational databases are great for organising complex interlinked sets of data. Imagine a social media app and think about all the links between the users, posts, comments, and likes - this can be done with relational databases
An Excel spreadsheet modelled as a database table
Non-relational databases also exist, and are sometimes referred to as NoSQL databases.


SQL (Structured Query Language) is a programming language used to communicate with relational databases. It is used to store, manage, and retrieve data from a database.
SQL is a declarative programming language, which means the code instructs the program what to do, rather than how to do it. Here is an example of some SQL code :
​​SELECT name FROM cats;
We are simply instructing SQL to SELECT something FROM something. All the logic of how to SELECT something is taken care of by the language itself (we’ll explain this code in more detail in the next section).
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