Databases and SQL



For the SQL lessons, we will use the SQLite relational database management system, which comes pre-installed on most operating systems. While these instructions are specific to SQLite, most other database management systems (e.g. MySQL, Oracle, PostGreSQL) have similar functions for loading data and performing basic operations.

First, download and install SQLite if it is not already installed on your operating system:

  • Windows: Download the SQLite program.
  • Mac OS X: sqlite3 comes pre-installed on Mac OS X.
  • Linux: sqlite3 comes pre-installed on Linux.

Create a directory where you will carry out the exercises for this lesson, and change to it using the cd command. Download the file survey.db into this directory.

$ mkdir swc_sql 
$ cd swc_sql
$ wget

First, load the example database into SQLite. On the shell command line, type

sqlite3 survey.db

This command instructs SQLite to load the database in the survey.db file.

You should see something like the following.

SQLite version 3.8.8 2015-01-16 12:08:06
Enter ".help" for usage hints.

For a list of useful system commands, enter .help.

All SQLite-specific commands are prefixed with a . to distinguish them from SQL commands. Type .tables to list the tables in the database.

sqlite> .tables
Person   Site     Survey   Visited

Type the following SQL SELECT command. This SELECT statement selects all (*) rows from the Site table.

select * from Site;

Complete your SQL statement with a semicolon.

sqlite> select * from Site;

You can change some SQLite settings to make the output easier to read. First, set the output mode to display left-aligned columns. Then turn on the display of column headers.

sqlite> .mode column
sqlite> .header on
sqlite> select * from Site;
name        lat         long
----------  ----------  ----------
DR-1        -49.85      -128.57
DR-3        -47.15      -126.72
MSK-4       -48.87      -123.4

To exit SQLite and return to the shell command line, you can use either .quit or .exit.