I was going to talk about point-of-view here, but then I realized that many of you are writers and probably know all about first person and third person omniscient and all that jazz, so I’ll talk about another kind of view…
I was at one time Heap Big Technical Guy who was responsible for maintaining the training environments at my next-to-last employer. One of my responsibilities was to install the application, which was written in Java and used SQL databases, in our case either Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle. When I worked for my brother, I built myself a database using MySQL for the stuff I was keeping track of, and would produce a report every day that I had created from the previous day’s data.
I’m telling you all of that for no other reason than to say I know SQL databases pretty well, and only had one class where I learned all the jargon and technical terms and the SQL query language so I could get data both into and out of the databases. Trust me, it’s a whole lot simpler than working with IMS, IDMS, Datacom, or any of the other databases we had back in the olden days, when we would punch cards with a hammer and chisel.
A SQL database consists of one or more tables (called in database lingo relations) which conceptually look like Excel spreadsheets. In fact, you can load data from Excel spreadsheets into the tables. The trick when writing programs or queries was to know how to connect (or JOIN) the tables to each other so you could actually use the data and produce reports. See, databases go through a process called normalization, which means the data is separated into separate tables to minimize the amount of repeated data there is in them.
If your database administrator (DBA) is a nice guy, he might define a view that does all the joining of tables that you would have to do manually. Views are convenient ways of looking at the databases, and can be used to query the database or update it. It takes care of getting all the data together in one place for producing reports or adding additional records to the database.
The other use of views is security. There might be certain data that you don’t want everyone seeing, like executive salaries, or updating, like your own salary. The DBA can create views that have just the information users need to do their job, and restrict them to only using those views to do so.
That’s all I have to say about the wonderful world of SQL databases and views, other than to say WordPress uses MySQL databases, and if you decide to install WordPress on your own server you’ll need to allocate a database for use with it. It helps to know something about it. Fortunately, all of the documentation is available online. You can even download the Reference Manual (it’s in HTML, PDF, and EPUB formats) so you have a copy all for yourself.
from The Sound of One Hand Typing