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Offline Learning of SQL - Advice Expand / Collapse
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Posted Friday, August 22, 2008 4:31 PM
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Hey everybody,

I've been going through some self-training/online tutorials to learn basic SQL script, but I'm looking to take the next step and dive into further commands, yet I am a person who needs to be able to mess around with it as I learn. The only problem is I don't currently run a server or have server access through work. I installed MySQL server, but the first thing they ask for is my server configurations.

What I would like to do is be able to load up some practice databases through my c: drive, and have access to practice a full range of SQL queries to manipulate the tables/data -without server access...

Any recommendations? Some of the online tutorials let you mess around in some SQL interpreters, but seem to limit the commands you can use.

Any help would be excellent!
Post #557665
Posted Friday, August 22, 2008 5:40 PM


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I know there are many who disagree with me, but for me it helps to have a goal to focus on. That goal will give you something to focus and guide your self-training and may suggest what resources you should focus on.

When I was first learning SQL (personally I work with SQL Server, but you mentioned MySql in your question) I committed myself to earning the MCDBA. Then when I had the goal of the certification, I had an official curriculum to follow and an external measuring stick to rate my performance and learning.

Another, similar, technique is to find a project you would like to complete using SQL (or make one up if you have to) and start working on it. The project goals will help keep you focused and help point you to what resources you should look at.

And finally, if you just want reference material to start with, I would suggest everything by Joe Celko including SQL for Smarties and all the articles (most of them on this site) by Jeff Moden.


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Timothy A Wiseman
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Post #557679
Posted Friday, August 22, 2008 6:22 PM
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Thanks for the advice. Just to clarify a little bit, I do have a few projects that I would like to work on, but my main concern right now is I don't want/need to be working on a live server.

I'm looking for a 'dummy version' that allows me to create some tables, join tables, delete tables, and mainly query these tables - without needing to setup a server to do it. The only reason I mentioned MySQL is that was the one suggestion I did receive, but after installing it, the first prompt asked for my server information and it wouldn't let me get around that first step. I would prefer to learn SQL through Microsoft SQL Server, but it seems more server-based, so I'm not sure if it would allow me the functionality to just mess around with files on my c: drive and not sending them through a linked server?

Maybe it doesn't exist, but I'm just trying to find something that will let me upload some excel worksheets and use SQL commands to mess with the data. I have all the data created, I just need the right functionality to allow for this.

And, again, forgive me if this doesn't make sense - I'm still learning all of this... I just want something to play around with, without the severity of messing stuff up on a server! :P
Post #557688
Posted Friday, August 22, 2008 7:39 PM
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Try Sql Server Express "a free, easy-to-use, lightweight, and embeddable version of SQL Server 2005" (MS's words).
http://www.microsoft.com/sql/editions/express/default.mspx



Post #557707
Posted Saturday, August 23, 2008 4:49 AM


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Download the AdventureWorks sample database. It's availuable on CodePlex

It's a relativly complex database with a fair bit of data in it.

Link goes tto the page with the SQL 2008 versions, there's a link on that page to the 2005 versions (top right)



Gail Shaw
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Post #557742
Posted Saturday, August 23, 2008 12:23 PM


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mlarson (8/22/2008)
Thanks for the advice. Just to clarify a little bit, I do have a few projects that I would like to work on, but my main concern right now is I don't want/need to be working on a live server.

I'm looking for a 'dummy version' that allows me to create some tables, join tables, delete tables, and mainly query these tables - without needing to setup a server to do it. The only reason I mentioned MySQL is that was the one suggestion I did receive, but after installing it, the first prompt asked for my server information and it wouldn't let me get around that first step. I would prefer to learn SQL through Microsoft SQL Server, but it seems more server-based, so I'm not sure if it would allow me the functionality to just mess around with files on my c: drive and not sending them through a linked server?


You can do that without any trouble. If you are mostly looking to learn in the short term, I would get an evaluation version of one of Microsoft's SQL Server versions out right now. (2008 is definitely the future, but 2005 has the largest overall installed base and there are still many, many 2000 servers out there). It will disable itself after 6 months, but that is plenty of time to gain a working knowledge.

If you want something permanent, you can get SQL Server Express which is free and can even be redistributed (some minor restrictions, read the full license before redistributing) if you build a product that uses it. It does have some limitations, but it is the version I use for playing with new ideas at home. You can also pick up a developers edition for about $50. That is meant to be used on a test system for development work and testing before it is moved on to a production server.

Of course, if you like MySQL there is nothing wrong with it, but I personally prefer MS SQL Server. It tends to have more features and be easier to use, in my personal opinion.


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Timothy A Wiseman
SQL Blog: http://timothyawiseman.wordpress.com/
Post #557793
Posted Saturday, August 23, 2008 3:56 PM


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These two easily fit on my home desktop (Dell Inspiron -530 OS XP Professional with Sp-3 2 GB Ram 230 GB disc) and allow me to do just about whatever I want to do with SQL Server:

From Amazon:

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Developer Edition - Complete package - 1 user - DVD -
Win - English ( E32-00673 ) by MICROSOFT CORP (Windows XP Professional)
1 Used & new from $99.99

Microsoft SQL Server Developer Edition 2005 CD/DVD by Microsoft Software
(CD-ROM - Nov 28, 2005) (Windows 2000 Server / 2003 Server / XP Professional)
Buy new: $49.95 $44.49 27 Used & new from $38.95


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Post #557805
Posted Thursday, August 28, 2008 6:50 AM
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I'd go with the express version, and get the management studio express component. Its free, and has most of what you want.

The more you are prepared, the less you need it.
Post #560362
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