MySQL is currently the most popular open source database server in existence. On top of that, it is very commonly used in conjunction with PHP scripts to create powerful and dynamic server-side applications.
MySQL has been criticized in the past for not supporting all the features of other popular and more expensive DataBase Management Systems. However, MySQL continues to improve with each release (currently version 5), and it has become widely popular with individuals and businesses of many different sizes.
What is a Database?
A database is a structure that comes in two flavors: a flat database and a relational database. A relational database is much more oriented to the human mind and is often preferred over the gabble-de-gook flat database that are just stored on hard drives like a text file. MySQL is a relational database.
In a relational structured database there are tables that store data. The columns define which kinds of information will be stored in the table. An individual column must be created for each type of data you wish to store (i.e. Age, Weight, Height).
On the other hand, a row contains the actual values for these specified columns. Each row will have 1 value for each and every column. For example a table with columns (Name, Age, Weight-lbs) could have a row with the values (Bob, 65, 165). If all this relational database talk is too confusing, don’t despair. We will talk about and show a few examples in the coming lessons.
Why Use a Database?
Databases are most useful when it comes to storing information that fits into logical categories. For example, say that you wanted to store information of all the employees in a company. With a database you can group different parts of your business into separate tables to help store your information logically. Example tables might be: Employees, Supervisors, and Customers. Each table would then contain columns specific to these three areas. To help store information related to each employee, the Employees table might have the following columns: Hire, Date, Position, Age, and Salary