Learn SQL & Databases

SQL (which stands for Structured Query Language) is a standard language for managing relational databases. Some people pronounce it as the individual letters (“ESS-QUE-EL”), while others pronounce it like the word “sequel”. There are a number of different variations of SQL, like MySQL (which most WordPress blogs use) and PostgreSQL (used a lot in data science projects).

It’s certainly possible to specialise in SQL and database management, but it’s also often taken up as a complementary language to a main programming language (like Python, Ruby or JavaScript), as it’s hard to do more advanced applications without a way to store and manage your data.

A Shelfish Starter Guide to Databases – Maggie Appleton

This one page starter guide simply and visually explains key concepts if you’re new to databases.

Practical SQL – Anthony DeBarros

This book by journalist and data analyst Anthony DeBarros uses real life data from the US Census and other government agencies to get you using your learning practically (as the title promises), rather than just sticking with database theory and abstract examples. It’s designed to help beginners build and manage their own databases.

This book focuses on PostgreSQL, but is also applicable to other SQL databases like MySQL.

Introduction to SQL – Launch School

This online book goes through the basics of SQL and how to set up and use a PostgreSQL database in a simple, step-by-step way for complete beginners.

SQL Cookbook – Anthony Molinaro

Once you’ve learnt the basics of SQL, this “cookbook” will help to extend your learning and relational database skills. The book’s organisation takes the format: problem, solution and discussion, starting from simpler common problems before increasing in complexity.

Learn SQL – Codecademy

This course teaches you the basics of manipulating data in an SQL database using Codecademy’s in-browser interactive shell, so you don’t have to install an SQL server yourself. The downside is that it doesn’t teach you how to deploy a server in real life – but it is a great way to practice using the language in a totally safe environment.

There’s the option to do the basic course for free, with projects and quizzes only available for paid subscribers.

Intro to SQL – Khan Academy

This free (donation-supported) course uses an in-browser interactive shell to go through the basics of SQL to more advanced queries.

And if you’ve been wondering about how to pronounce “SQL”, there’s a handy little video that explains the sources of the different pronunciations so you can choose.

Introduction to Structured Query Language (SQL) – Coursera

This free MOOC from the University of Michigan is part of the Web Applications for Everybody stream that also teaches programming in PHP. It goes through installing SQL and PHP, the basics of SQL, designing databases and relationships.

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