Introduction to SQL


The Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio



There are many tools you will use to create and manage your databases. The most important is Microsoft SQL server, which is equipped with Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio. To access it, you can open a connection from Start -> (All) Programs -> Microsoft SQL Server 2005 -> SQL Server Management Studio. A dialog box would come up but you can click Cancel on it:

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio

The top section of the Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio displays the classic title bar of a regular window, with an icon on the left, followed by the title of the application, and the system buttons on the right side. Under the title bar, the menu bar displays categories of menus that you will use to perform the various necessary operations. A toolbar displays under the main menu.

The left side of the interface displays the Object Explorer window, with its title bar labeled Object Explorer. On the right side of the Object Explorer title, there are three buttons. If you click the first button that points down, a menu would appear, which allows you to specify whether you want the window to be floated, docked, or tabbed.

The Object Explorer is a dockable window, meaning you can move it from the left side to another side on the screen. To do this, you can click and drag its title bar to a location of your choice.

The Object Explorer is also floatable, which means you can place it somewhere in the middle of the interface:

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio

To place the window back to its previous position, you can double-click its title bar.

The Object Explorer can also be tabbed. This means that the window can be positioned either vertically or horizontally.

The right side of the window is equipped by a window whose tab is labeled Summary. This area will be used to display either the contents of what is selected in the Object Explorer, or to show a result of some operation. As you will see later on, many other windows will occupy the right section but they will share the same area. To make each known it will be represented with a tab and the tab shows the name (or caption) of a window.

Using the Management Studio

After installing Microsoft SQL Server, you can use it to create an manage databases. To assist you with this, you can use Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio.

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio is a window you will use to create and manage databases. To assist you with this, it comes equipped with various tools, some are graphically-based and some others required code writing for you. To perform some operations, you will use the main menu. Some other operations will be available from clicking one of the buttons on the toolbar. Many other operations will start from the Object Explorer.

The Object Explorer displays a list of items as a tree-style. One of the most regular used items will be the name of the server you are using. If you are just starting to learn database development or you are a junior database developer, you may use or see only one server. In some cases, you may be dealing with many. Regardless, you should always know what server you are currently connecting to. This is easy to check  with the first node of the Object Explorer. In the following example, the server is named Central:

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio

The name of the server is followed by parentheses.

In the previous lesson, we saw that, to establish a connection to a server, you must authenticate yourself. In some cases you may use the same account over and over again. In some other cases you may have different accounts that you use for different scenarios, such as one account for database development, one account for database management, and/or one account for database testing. Some operations cannot be performed by some accounts. When performing some operations, you should always know what account you are using. You can check this in the parentheses of the server name. In the following connection, an account called Administrator is currently connecting to a server named Central:

Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio

When the server name is selected in the Object Explorer, the whole caption of its node displays in the Summary window.

Probably the most regular node you will be interested in, is labeled Databases. This node holds the names of databases on the server you are connecting to. Also, from that node, you can perform almost any necessary operation of a database. To see most of the regularly available actions, you can expand the Databases node and some of its children. You can then right-click either Databases or one of its child nodes.

Introduction to Code

Although you will perform many of your database operations visually, some other operations will require that you write code. To assist with with this, Microsoft SQL Server provides a code editor and various code templates.

To open the editor, on the Standard toolbar, you can:

  • Press Ctrl + N
  • On the main menu, you can click File -> New -> Query With Current Connection
  • On the Standard toolbar, click the New Query button
  • In the Object Explorer, right-click the name of the server and click New Query

This would create a new window and position it on the right side of the interface. Whether you have already written code or not, you can save the document of the code editor at any time. To save it:

  • You can press Ctrl + S
  • On the main menu, you can click File -> Save SQLQueryX.sql...
  • On the Standard toolbar, you can click the Save button

You will be required to provide a name for the file. After saving the file, its name would appear on the tab of the document.

Introduction to the Command Prompt

Besides the SQL Server Management Studio, you can also work on Microsoft SQL Server from the DOS command prompt. This is done using an application or command named SQLCMD.EXE. To use, open the Command Prompt, type SQLCMD (case-insensitive) and press Enter:

Command Prompt

You can then write SQL code.


Published on Monday 24 December 2007


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