In this course we look at an outline of the stages involved in the development of a database. We consider the broader issue of how to decide what should be in a database and how to structure the tables that should be included. Our aim is to give you a basic development method so that you can see how a basic database system is developed.
Before we consider the development method in more detail let's discuss why we need to take a formal approach to database development. After all, it is quite simple to use structured query language (SQL) CREATE TABLE statements to define tables, or to use the facilities of a database tool to define them for you. Once developed, the tables can be manipulated and displayed in many different ways, again using SQL statements, a database tool or an application development tool. However, uncontrolled ad hoc creation of tables by end users leads to an unmanageable and unusable database environment, and can result in the inclusion of multiple copies of potentially inconsistent data. In effect, this can create islands of data within which the end users cannot find the data that they require.
SQL is a special kind of computer language used for relational databases. These initials originated from 'structured query language'. Although this phrase is no longer used the initials SQL still are. SQL is an essential part of the practical understanding of relational databases, but we are only concerned that you appreciate its role in defining and accessing a database.
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