Advance SQL Tutorial


 
SQL Constraints
Constraints are used to limit the type of data that can go into a table.
Constraints can be specified when a table is created (with the CREATE TABLE statement) or after the table is created (with the ALTER TABLE statement).
We will focus on the following constraints:
  • NOT NULL
  • UNIQUE
  • PRIMARY KEY
  • FOREIGN KEY
  • CHECK
  • DEFAULT
The next chapters will describe each constraint in detail.

SQL NOT NULL Constraint
The NOT NULL constraint enforces a column to NOT accept NULL values.
The NOT NULL constraint enforces a field to always contain a value. This means that you cannot insert a new record, or update a record without adding a value to this field.
The following SQL enforces the "P_Id" column and the "LastName" column to not accept NULL values:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255)
)

SQL UNIQUE Constraint
The UNIQUE constraint uniquely identifies each record in a database table.
The UNIQUE and PRIMARY KEY constraints both provide a guarantee for uniqueness for a column or set of columns.
A PRIMARY KEY constraint automatically has a UNIQUE constraint defined on it.
Note that you can have many UNIQUE constraints per table, but only one PRIMARY KEY constraint per table.


SQL UNIQUE Constraint on CREATE TABLE
The following SQL creates a UNIQUE constraint on the "P_Id" column when the "Persons" table is created:
MySQL:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255),
UNIQUE (P_Id)
)
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL UNIQUE,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255)
)
To allow naming of a UNIQUE constraint, and for defining a UNIQUE constraint on multiple columns, use the following SQL syntax:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255),
CONSTRAINT uc_PersonID UNIQUE (P_Id,LastName)
)



SQL UNIQUE Constraint on ALTER TABLE
To create a UNIQUE constraint on the "P_Id" column when the table is already created, use the following SQL:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ADD UNIQUE (P_Id)
To allow naming of a UNIQUE constraint, and for defining a UNIQUE constraint on multiple columns, use the following SQL syntax:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ADD CONSTRAINT uc_PersonID UNIQUE (P_Id,LastName)



To DROP a UNIQUE Constraint
To drop a UNIQUE constraint, use the following SQL:
MySQL:
ALTER TABLE Persons
DROP INDEX uc_PersonID
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
DROP CONSTRAINT uc_PersonID

SQL PRIMARY KEY Constraint
The PRIMARY KEY constraint uniquely identifies each record in a database table.
Primary keys must contain unique values.
A primary key column cannot contain NULL values.
Each table should have a primary key, and each table can have only ONE primary key.


SQL PRIMARY KEY Constraint on CREATE TABLE
The following SQL creates a PRIMARY KEY on the "P_Id" column when the "Persons" table is created:
MySQL:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255),
PRIMARY KEY (P_Id)
)
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255)
)
To allow naming of a PRIMARY KEY constraint, and for defining a PRIMARY KEY constraint on multiple columns, use the following SQL syntax:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255),
CONSTRAINT pk_PersonID PRIMARY KEY (P_Id,LastName)
)
Note: In the example above there is only ONE PRIMARY KEY (pk_PersonID). However, the value of the pk_PersonID is made up of two columns (P_Id and LastName).


SQL PRIMARY KEY Constraint on ALTER TABLE
To create a PRIMARY KEY constraint on the "P_Id" column when the table is already created, use the following SQL:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ADD PRIMARY KEY (P_Id)
To allow naming of a PRIMARY KEY constraint, and for defining a PRIMARY KEY constraint on multiple columns, use the following SQL syntax:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ADD CONSTRAINT pk_PersonID PRIMARY KEY (P_Id,LastName)
Note: If you use the ALTER TABLE statement to add a primary key, the primary key column(s) must already have been declared to not contain NULL values (when the table was first created).


To DROP a PRIMARY KEY Constraint
To drop a PRIMARY KEY constraint, use the following SQL:
MySQL:
ALTER TABLE Persons
DROP PRIMARY KEY
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
DROP CONSTRAINT pk_PersonID

SQL FOREIGN KEY Constraint
A FOREIGN KEY in one table points to a PRIMARY KEY in another table.
Let's illustrate the foreign key with an example. Look at the following two tables:
The "Persons" table:
P_Id
LastName
FirstName
Address
City
1
Hansen
Ola
Timoteivn 10
Sandnes
2
Svendson
Tove
Borgvn 23
Sandnes
3
Pettersen
Kari
Storgt 20
Stavanger
The "Orders" table:
O_Id
OrderNo
P_Id
1
77895
3
2
44678
3
3
22456
2
4
24562
1
Note that the "P_Id" column in the "Orders" table points to the "P_Id" column in the "Persons" table.
The "P_Id" column in the "Persons" table is the PRIMARY KEY in the "Persons" table.
The "P_Id" column in the "Orders" table is a FOREIGN KEY in the "Orders" table.
The FOREIGN KEY constraint is used to prevent actions that would destroy links between tables.
The FOREIGN KEY constraint also prevents that invalid data form being inserted into the foreign key column, because it has to be one of the values contained in the table it points to.


SQL FOREIGN KEY Constraint on CREATE TABLE
The following SQL creates a FOREIGN KEY on the "P_Id" column when the "Orders" table is created:
MySQL:
CREATE TABLE Orders
(
O_Id int NOT NULL,
OrderNo int NOT NULL,
P_Id int,
PRIMARY KEY (O_Id),
FOREIGN KEY (P_Id) REFERENCES Persons(P_Id)
)
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Orders
(
O_Id int NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY,
OrderNo int NOT NULL,
P_Id int FOREIGN KEY REFERENCES Persons(P_Id)
)
To allow naming of a FOREIGN KEY constraint, and for defining a FOREIGN KEY constraint on multiple columns, use the following SQL syntax:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Orders
(
O_Id int NOT NULL,
OrderNo int NOT NULL,
P_Id int,
PRIMARY KEY (O_Id),
CONSTRAINT fk_PerOrders FOREIGN KEY (P_Id)
REFERENCES Persons(P_Id)
)



SQL FOREIGN KEY Constraint on ALTER TABLE
To create a FOREIGN KEY constraint on the "P_Id" column when the "Orders" table is already created, use the following SQL:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Orders
ADD FOREIGN KEY (P_Id)
REFERENCES Persons(P_Id)
To allow naming of a FOREIGN KEY constraint, and for defining a FOREIGN KEY constraint on multiple columns, use the following SQL syntax:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Orders
ADD CONSTRAINT fk_PerOrders
FOREIGN KEY (P_Id)
REFERENCES Persons(P_Id)



To DROP a FOREIGN KEY Constraint
To drop a FOREIGN KEY constraint, use the following SQL:
MySQL:
ALTER TABLE Orders
DROP FOREIGN KEY fk_PerOrders
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Orders
DROP CONSTRAINT fk_PerOrders

SQL CHECK Constraint
The CHECK constraint is used to limit the value range that can be placed in a column.
If you define a CHECK constraint on a single column it allows only certain values for this column.
If you define a CHECK constraint on a table it can limit the values in certain columns based on values in other columns in the row.


SQL CHECK Constraint on CREATE TABLE
The following SQL creates a CHECK constraint on the "P_Id" column when the "Persons" table is created. The CHECK constraint specifies that the column "P_Id" must only include integers greater than 0.
MySQL:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255),
CHECK (P_Id>0)
)
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL CHECK (P_Id>0),
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255)
)
To allow naming of a CHECK constraint, and for defining a CHECK constraint on multiple columns, use the following SQL syntax:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255),
CONSTRAINT chk_Person CHECK (P_Id>0 AND City='Sandnes')
)



SQL CHECK Constraint on ALTER TABLE
To create a CHECK constraint on the "P_Id" column when the table is already created, use the following SQL:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ADD CHECK (P_Id>0)
To allow naming of a CHECK constraint, and for defining a CHECK constraint on multiple columns, use the following SQL syntax:
MySQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ADD CONSTRAINT chk_Person CHECK (P_Id>0 AND City='Sandnes')



To DROP a CHECK Constraint
To drop a CHECK constraint, use the following SQL:
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
DROP CONSTRAINT chk_Person
MySQL:
ALTER TABLE Persons
DROP CHECK chk_Person

SQL DEFAULT Constraint
The DEFAULT constraint is used to insert a default value into a column.
The default value will be added to all new records, if no other value is specified.


SQL DEFAULT Constraint on CREATE TABLE
The following SQL creates a DEFAULT constraint on the "City" column when the "Persons" table is created:
My SQL / SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255) DEFAULT 'Sandnes'
)
The DEFAULT constraint can also be used to insert system values, by using functions like GETDATE():
CREATE TABLE Orders
(
O_Id int NOT NULL,
OrderNo int NOT NULL,
P_Id int,
OrderDate date DEFAULT GETDATE()
)



SQL DEFAULT Constraint on ALTER TABLE
To create a DEFAULT constraint on the "City" column when the table is already created, use the following SQL:
MySQL:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ALTER City SET DEFAULT 'SANDNES'
SQL Server / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ALTER COLUMN City SET DEFAULT 'SANDNES'
Oracle:
ALTER TABLE Persons
MODIFY City DEFAULT 'SANDNES'



To DROP a DEFAULT Constraint
To drop a DEFAULT constraint, use the following SQL:
MySQL:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ALTER City DROP DEFAULT
SQL Server / Oracle / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ALTER COLUMN City DROP DEFAULT

SQL CREATE INDEX Statement

The CREATE INDEX statement is used to create indexes in tables.
Indexes allow the database application to find data fast; without reading the whole table.


Indexes
An index can be created in a table to find data more quickly and efficiently.
The users cannot see the indexes, they are just used to speed up searches/queries.
Note: Updating a table with indexes takes more time than updating a table without (because the indexes also need an update). So you should only create indexes on columns (and tables) that will be frequently searched against.
SQL CREATE INDEX Syntax
Creates an index on a table. Duplicate values are allowed:
CREATE INDEX index_name
ON table_name (column_name)
SQL CREATE UNIQUE INDEX Syntax
Creates a unique index on a table. Duplicate values are not allowed:
CREATE UNIQUE INDEX index_name
ON table_name (column_name)
Note: The syntax for creating indexes varies amongst different databases. Therefore: Check the syntax for creating indexes in your database.


CREATE INDEX Example
The SQL statement below creates an index named "PIndex" on the "LastName" column in the "Persons" table:
CREATE INDEX PIndex
ON Persons (LastName)
If you want to create an index on a combination of columns, you can list the column names within the parentheses, separated by commas:
CREATE INDEX PIndex
ON Persons (LastName, FirstName)

SQL DROP INDEX, DROP TABLE, and DROP DATABASE



Indexes, tables, and databases can easily be deleted/removed with the DROP statement.


The DROP INDEX Statement
The DROP INDEX statement is used to delete an index in a table.
DROP INDEX Syntax for MS Access:
DROP INDEX index_name ON table_name
DROP INDEX Syntax for MS SQL Server:
DROP INDEX table_name.index_name
DROP INDEX Syntax for DB2/Oracle:
DROP INDEX index_name
DROP INDEX Syntax for MySQL:
ALTER TABLE table_name DROP INDEX index_name



The DROP TABLE Statement
The DROP TABLE statement is used to delete a table.
DROP TABLE table_name



The DROP DATABASE Statement
The DROP DATABASE statement is used to delete a database.
DROP DATABASE database_name



The TRUNCATE TABLE Statement
What if we only want to delete the data inside the table, and not the table itself?
Then, use the TRUNCATE TABLE statement:
TRUNCATE TABLE table_name

The ALTER TABLE Statement
The ALTER TABLE statement is used to add, delete, or modify columns in an existing table.
SQL ALTER TABLE Syntax
To add a column in a table, use the following syntax:
ALTER TABLE table_name
ADD column_name datatype
To delete a column in a table, use the following syntax (notice that some database systems don't allow deleting a column):
ALTER TABLE table_name
DROP COLUMN column_name
To change the data type of a column in a table, use the following syntax:
My SQL / SQL Server / MS Access:
ALTER TABLE table_name
ALTER COLUMN column_name datatype
Oracle:
ALTER TABLE table_name
MODIFY column_name datatype



SQL ALTER TABLE Example
Look at the "Persons" table:
P_Id
LastName
FirstName
Address
City
1
Hansen
Ola
Timoteivn 10
Sandnes
2
Svendson
Tove
Borgvn 23
Sandnes
3
Pettersen
Kari
Storgt 20
Stavanger
Now we want to add a column named "DateOfBirth" in the "Persons" table.
We use the following SQL statement:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ADD DateOfBirth date
Notice that the new column, "DateOfBirth", is of type date and is going to hold a date. The data type specifies what type of data the column can hold. For a complete reference of all the data types available in MS Access, MySQL, and SQL Server, go to our complete Data Types reference.
The "Persons" table will now like this:
P_Id
LastName
FirstName
Address
City
DateOfBirth
1
Hansen
Ola
Timoteivn 10
Sandnes

2
Svendson
Tove
Borgvn 23
Sandnes

3
Pettersen
Kari
Storgt 20
Stavanger




Change Data Type Example
Now we want to change the data type of the column named "DateOfBirth" in the "Persons" table.
We use the following SQL statement:
ALTER TABLE Persons
ALTER COLUMN DateOfBirth year
Notice that the "DateOfBirth" column is now of type year and is going to hold a year in a two-digit or four-digit format.


DROP COLUMN Example
Next, we want to delete the column named "DateOfBirth" in the "Persons" table.
We use the following SQL statement:
ALTER TABLE Persons
DROP COLUMN DateOfBirth
The "Persons" table will now like this:
P_Id
LastName
FirstName
Address
City
1
Hansen
Ola
Timoteivn 10
Sandnes
2
Svendson
Tove
Borgvn 23
Sandnes
3
Pettersen
Kari
Storgt 20
Stavanger

SQL AUTO INCREMENT Field

Auto-increment allows a unique number to be generated when a new record is inserted into a table.


AUTO INCREMENT a Field
Very often we would like the value of the primary key field to be created automatically every time a new record is inserted.
We would like to create an auto-increment field in a table.


Syntax for MySQL
The following SQL statement defines the "P_Id" column to be an auto-increment primary key field in the "Persons" table:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255),
PRIMARY KEY (P_Id)
)
MySQL uses the AUTO_INCREMENT keyword to perform an auto-increment feature.
By default, the starting value for AUTO_INCREMENT is 1, and it will increment by 1 for each new record.
To let the AUTO_INCREMENT sequence start with another value, use the following SQL statement:
ALTER TABLE Persons AUTO_INCREMENT=100
To insert a new record into the "Persons" table, we will not have to specify a value for the "P_Id" column (a unique value will be added automatically):
INSERT INTO Persons (FirstName,LastName)
VALUES ('Lars','Monsen')
The SQL statement above would insert a new record into the "Persons" table. The "P_Id" column would be assigned a unique value. The "FirstName" column would be set to "Lars" and the "LastName" column would be set to "Monsen".


Syntax for SQL Server
The following SQL statement defines the "P_Id" column to be an auto-increment primary key field in the "Persons" table:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id int PRIMARY KEY IDENTITY,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255)
)
The MS SQL Server uses the IDENTITY keyword to perform an auto-increment feature.
By default, the starting value for IDENTITY is 1, and it will increment by 1 for each new record.
To specify that the "P_Id" column should start at value 10 and increment by 5, change the identity to IDENTITY(10,5).
To insert a new record into the "Persons" table, we will not have to specify a value for the "P_Id" column (a unique value will be added automatically):
INSERT INTO Persons (FirstName,LastName)
VALUES ('Lars','Monsen')
The SQL statement above would insert a new record into the "Persons" table. The "P_Id" column would be assigned a unique value. The "FirstName" column would be set to "Lars" and the "LastName" column would be set to "Monsen".


Syntax for Access
The following SQL statement defines the "P_Id" column to be an auto-increment primary key field in the "Persons" table:
CREATE TABLE Persons
(
P_Id PRIMARY KEY AUTOINCREMENT,
LastName varchar(255) NOT NULL,
FirstName varchar(255),
Address varchar(255),
City varchar(255)
)
The MS Access uses the AUTOINCREMENT keyword to perform an auto-increment feature.
By default, the starting value for AUTOINCREMENT is 1, and it will increment by 1 for each new record.
To specify that the "P_Id" column should start at value 10 and increment by 5, change the autoincrement to AUTOINCREMENT(10,5).
To insert a new record into the "Persons" table, we will not have to specify a value for the "P_Id" column (a unique value will be added automatically):
INSERT INTO Persons (FirstName,LastName)
VALUES ('Lars','Monsen')
The SQL statement above would insert a new record into the "Persons" table. The "P_Id" column would be assigned a unique value. The "FirstName" column would be set to "Lars" and the "LastName" column would be set to "Monsen".


Syntax for Oracle
In Oracle the code is a little bit more tricky.
You will have to create an auto-increment field with the sequence object (this object generates a number sequence).
Use the following CREATE SEQUENCE syntax:
CREATE SEQUENCE seq_person
MINVALUE 1
START WITH 1
INCREMENT BY 1
CACHE 10
The code above creates a sequence object called seq_person, that starts with 1 and will increment by 1. It will also cache up to 10 values for performance. The cache option specifies how many sequence values will be stored in memory for faster access.
To insert a new record into the "Persons" table, we will have to use the nextval function (this function retrieves the next value from seq_person sequence):
INSERT INTO Persons (P_Id,FirstName,LastName)
VALUES (seq_person.nextval,'Lars','Monsen')
The SQL statement above would insert a new record into the "Persons" table. The "P_Id" column would be assigned the next number from the seq_person sequence. The "FirstName" column would be set to "Lars" and the "LastName" column would be set to "Monsen".
SQL CREATE VIEW Statement
In SQL, a view is a virtual table based on the result-set of an SQL statement.
A view contains rows and columns, just like a real table. The fields in a view are fields from one or more real tables in the database.
You can add SQL functions, WHERE, and JOIN statements to a view and present the data as if the data were coming from one single table.
SQL CREATE VIEW Syntax
CREATE VIEW view_name AS
SELECT column_name(s)
FROM table_name
WHERE condition
Note: A view always shows up-to-date data! The database engine recreates the data, using the view's SQL statement, every time a user queries a view.


SQL CREATE VIEW Examples
If you have the Northwind database you can see that it has several views installed by default.
The view "Current Product List" lists all active products (products that are not discontinued) from the "Products" table. The view is created with the following SQL:
CREATE VIEW [Current Product List] AS
SELECT ProductID,ProductName
FROM Products
WHERE Discontinued=No
We can query the view above as follows:
SELECT * FROM [Current Product List]
Another view in the Northwind sample database selects every product in the "Products" table with a unit price higher than the average unit price:
CREATE VIEW [Products Above Average Price] AS
SELECT ProductName,UnitPrice
FROM Products
WHERE UnitPrice>(SELECT AVG(UnitPrice) FROM Products)
We can query the view above as follows:
SELECT * FROM [Products Above Average Price]
Another view in the Northwind database calculates the total sale for each category in 1997. Note that this view selects its data from another view called "Product Sales for 1997":
CREATE VIEW [Category Sales For 1997] AS
SELECT DISTINCT CategoryName,Sum(ProductSales) AS CategorySales
FROM [Product Sales for 1997]
GROUP BY CategoryName
We can query the view above as follows:
SELECT * FROM [Category Sales For 1997]
We can also add a condition to the query. Now we want to see the total sale only for the category "Beverages":
SELECT * FROM [Category Sales For 1997]
WHERE CategoryName='Beverages'



SQL Updating a View
You can update a view by using the following syntax:
SQL CREATE OR REPLACE VIEW Syntax
CREATE OR REPLACE VIEW view_name AS
SELECT column_name(s)
FROM table_name
WHERE condition
Now we want to add the "Category" column to the "Current Product List" view. We will update the view with the following SQL:
CREATE VIEW [Current Product List] AS
SELECT ProductID,ProductName,Category
FROM Products
WHERE Discontinued=No



SQL Dropping a View
You can delete a view with the DROP VIEW command.
SQL DROP VIEW Syntax
DROP VIEW view_name

SQL Dates
 The most difficult part when working with dates is to be sure that the format of the date you are trying to insert, matches the format of the date column in the database.
As long as your data contains only the date portion, your queries will work as expected. However, if a time portion is involved, it gets complicated.
Before talking about the complications of querying for dates, we will look at the most important built-in functions for working with dates.


MySQL Date Functions
The following table lists the most important built-in date functions in MySQL:
Function
Description
NOW()
Returns the current date and time
CURDATE()
Returns the current date
CURTIME()
Returns the current time
DATE()
Extracts the date part of a date or date/time expression
EXTRACT()
Returns a single part of a date/time
DATE_ADD()
Adds a specified time interval to a date
DATE_SUB()
Subtracts a specified time interval from a date
DATEDIFF()
Returns the number of days between two dates
DATE_FORMAT()
Displays date/time data in different formats



SQL Server Date Functions
The following table lists the most important built-in date functions in SQL Server:
Function
Description
GETDATE()
Returns the current date and time
DATEPART()
Returns a single part of a date/time
DATEADD()
Adds or subtracts a specified time interval from a date
DATEDIFF()
Returns the time between two dates
CONVERT()
Displays date/time data in different formats



SQL Date Data Types
MySQL comes with the following data types for storing a date or a date/time value in the database:
  • DATE - format YYYY-MM-DD
  • DATETIME - format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
  • TIMESTAMP - format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
  • YEAR - format YYYY or YY
SQL Server comes with the following data types for storing a date or a date/time value in the database:
  • DATE - format YYYY-MM-DD
  • DATETIME - format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
  • SMALLDATETIME - format: YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
  • TIMESTAMP - format: a unique number
Note: The date types are chosen for a column when you create a new table in your database!
For an overview of all data types available, go to our complete Data Types reference.


SQL Working with Dates
 You can compare two dates easily if there is no time component involved!
Assume we have the following "Orders" table:
OrderId
ProductName
OrderDate
1
Geitost
2008-11-11
2
Camembert Pierrot
2008-11-09
3
Mozzarella di Giovanni
2008-11-11
4
Mascarpone Fabioli
2008-10-29
Now we want to select the records with an OrderDate of "2008-11-11" from the table above.
We use the following SELECT statement:
SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE OrderDate='2008-11-11'
The result-set will look like this:
OrderId
ProductName
OrderDate
1
Geitost
2008-11-11
3
Mozzarella di Giovanni
2008-11-11
Now, assume that the "Orders" table looks like this (notice the time component in the "OrderDate" column):
OrderId
ProductName
OrderDate
1
Geitost
2008-11-11 13:23:44
2
Camembert Pierrot
2008-11-09 15:45:21
3
Mozzarella di Giovanni
2008-11-11 11:12:01
4
Mascarpone Fabioli
2008-10-29 14:56:59
If we use the same SELECT statement as above:
SELECT * FROM Orders WHERE OrderDate='2008-11-11'
we will get no result! This is because the query is looking only for dates with no time portion.
Tip: If you want to keep your queries simple and easy to maintain, do not allow time components in your dates!
SQL NULL Values
NULL values represent missing unknown data.
By default, a table column can hold NULL values.
This chapter will explain the IS NULL and IS NOT NULL operators.


SQL NULL Values
If a column in a table is optional, we can insert a new record or update an existing record without adding a value to this column. This means that the field will be saved with a NULL value.
NULL values are treated differently from other values.
NULL is used as a placeholder for unknown or inapplicable values.
 Note: It is not possible to compare NULL and 0; they are not equivalent.


SQL Working with NULL Values
Look at the following "Persons" table:
P_Id
LastName
FirstName
Address
City
1
Hansen
Ola

Sandnes
2
Svendson
Tove
Borgvn 23
Sandnes
3
Pettersen
Kari

Stavanger
Suppose that the "Address" column in the "Persons" table is optional. This means that if we insert a record with no value for the "Address" column, the "Address" column will be saved with a NULL value.
How can we test for NULL values?
It is not possible to test for NULL values with comparison operators, such as =, <, or <>.
We will have to use the IS NULL and IS NOT NULL operators instead.


SQL IS NULL
How do we select only the records with NULL values in the "Address" column?
We will have to use the IS NULL operator:
SELECT LastName,FirstName,Address FROM Persons
WHERE Address IS NULL
The result-set will look like this:
LastName
FirstName
Address
Hansen
Ola

Pettersen
Kari

 Tip: Always use IS NULL to look for NULL values.


SQL IS NOT NULL
How do we select only the records with no NULL values in the "Address" column?
We will have to use the IS NOT NULL operator:
SELECT LastName,FirstName,Address FROM Persons
WHERE Address IS NOT NULL
The result-set will look like this:
LastName
FirstName
Address
Svendson
Tove
Borgvn 23
In the next chapter we will look at the ISNULL(), NVL(), IFNULL() and COALESCE() functions.
SQL ISNULL(), NVL(), IFNULL() and COALESCE() Functions
Look at the following "Products" table:
P_Id
ProductName
UnitPrice
UnitsInStock
UnitsOnOrder
1
Jarlsberg
10.45
16
15
2
Mascarpone
32.56
23

3
Gorgonzola
15.67
9
20
Suppose that the "UnitsOnOrder" column is optional, and may contain NULL values.
We have the following SELECT statement:
SELECT ProductName,UnitPrice*(UnitsInStock+UnitsOnOrder)
FROM Products
In the example above, if any of the "UnitsOnOrder" values are NULL, the result is NULL.
Microsoft's ISNULL() function is used to specify how we want to treat NULL values.
The NVL(), IFNULL(), and COALESCE() functions can also be used to achieve the same result.
In this case we want NULL values to be zero.
Below, if "UnitsOnOrder" is NULL it will not harm the calculation, because ISNULL() returns a zero if the value is NULL:
SQL Server / MS Access
SELECT ProductName,UnitPrice*(UnitsInStock+ISNULL(UnitsOnOrder,0))
FROM Products
Oracle
Oracle does not have an ISNULL() function. However, we can use the NVL() function to achieve the same result:
SELECT ProductName,UnitPrice*(UnitsInStock+NVL(UnitsOnOrder,0))
FROM Products
MySQL
MySQL does have an ISNULL() function. However, it works a little bit different from Microsoft's ISNULL() function.
In MySQL we can use the IFNULL() function, like this:
SELECT ProductName,UnitPrice*(UnitsInStock+IFNULL(UnitsOnOrder,0))
FROM Products
or we can use the COALESCE() function, like this:
SELECT ProductName,UnitPrice*(UnitsInStock+COALESCE(UnitsOnOrder,0))
FROM Products


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