SQL for Beginners: How to Access Your Data From a SQL Database

Stephanie Lehuger
Stephanie Lehuger
May 28, 2021 · 3 min read

Need to query and manipulate data in a SQL database, but don’t know where to start? In this article, we’ll discuss basic SQL for beginners, show you how to query data, and help you practice SQL through SQL query examples.

A form of code many once believed to be valuable only to tech experts,SQL (Structured Query Language) has become a key player in data analysis for individuals with a range of tech experience. 

In fact, co-founders of early stage tech startups — many of whom have never had to work with SQL — are starting to learn SQL for beginners in an attempt to allow their tech team to focus on more important tasks at hand, like actually building their product. These leaders can then use basic SQL actions, such as SQL rename column and SQL join multiple tables, helping them perform a data query and glean incredible insights. 

In this piece, you’ll:

  1. Learn what a SQL database is
  2. Review how to write SQL queries and get some SQL practice
  3. Review SQL query examples
  4. Learn why use a SQL editor
  5. Discover tools like Actiondesk that make it easy to visualize and analyze data stored in a SQL database

1. What is a SQL database?

A SQL database is a relational database, meaning it contains multiple data sets organized by tables. Essentially, it looks like a massive spreadsheet. PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and MySQL are some of the most popular relational databases that exist today.

SQL is used to quickly access and manipulate the data stored in SQL databases through the writing of queries. But what is a SQL query?

When a user writes a SQL query (i.e. sets of instructions) to a SQL database, they are telling it exactly what data they want to retrieve. These queries allow users to find and organize large amounts of data infinitely faster than if they were to do a manual search. 

2. How to write SQL queries and get some SQL practice

Queries empower startups to secure meaningful metrics that inform how their processes are working. Before a non-techie can practice SQL and query data, they must consider the following: 

  • Where are they getting their data from? Which table are they querying and which SQL database does it live in?
  • What fields (columns in a database) do they want to select ?
  • What, if any, conditions do they need to specify? Do they want to query all of the data in the SQL database, or just some of it?

Once they have answered these questions, they can start writing a SQL select query. A SQL select query contains several important keywords: 

  • SELECT dictates the specific information you want to pull from your SQL database.

  • FROM pinpoints the table that you want to pull the data from.

  • WHERE lets you filter your query and be more specific about the type of data you want to retrieve.

  • AND allows you to add additional criteria to your WHERE statement.

  • ORDER BY lets you sort any of the fields that you specified in the SELECT statement.
  • GROUP BY is similar to ORDER BY, but it will aggregate data that share similar traits. 
  • LIMIT lets you limit the number of results your query secures. 

3. SQL query examples

To help bring the above steps to life, here’s a simple example of how you could use a SQL query to get information out of a relational database. 

Let’s pretend you need to retrieve insights from a database detailing your customers’ recent notebook orders. You’ve determined where this data lives  and identified the specific data that you want to pull:

  • Where the data lives: in the Hogwarts_table
  • Which data you want to pull: an alphabetical list of the names of those who ordered notebooks that were gold and had 100 pages

Here’s the query you would write to get that information:

	color = “gold”
	pages = “100”

Once you enter this information, your system will query the database and retrieve all relevant data.

4. Why use a SQL editor

Wondering how to access a database? A SQL editor will connect you to the SQL database you’re querying and empower you to manage and manipulate the data it contains. A sophisticated SQL editor will also contain query builders so that you don’t have to create queries from scratch every time you want to make a data-driven decision. 

But even these tools can be complicated to master and require a strong understanding of code — what it is, how to write it, and when to use it. 

5. How to access your SQL database with no code: Actiondesk, the best of BI tools in a spreadsheet software, for flexible data exploration

While founders, sales, and marketing professionals can certainly become well versed in basic SQL, they rarely have the extra time it requires to do so. If you’re looking for a solution that eliminates the need to create queries and provides a way to clearly visualize and manipulate your data, look no further than Actiondesk

Actiondesk pairs the intuitiveness of a spreadsheet with the power of a BI tool, making it easy to access, explore, and transform your SQL data within a familiar spreadsheet interface — no queries required. After a single import, Actiondesk will display live data from your SQL databases to help you quickly make smart business decisions. That means that any changes to your data will automatically be reflected in your Actiondesk spreadsheet.

These traits are what set Actiondesk apart and make it even better than your traditional SQL query builder tool. With Actiondesk, you don’t need any connectors or complicated queries. You can explore your data using the features and formulas you already know, like filters or vlookup. Plus, you can create custom dashboards that reflect your specific business interests.

Try Actiondesk for free today!

Keep reading

Please wait...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.