An Introduction to MySQL: Part 1


This series will aid Webmasters in learning the basic operations of the MySQL server, including how to make a proper connection, set up the server for consequential manipulation, and execute basic commands. The commands covered within this series are among the most important commands in the language, as they form the basis for the more advanced commands.

Before reading on, it is of importance to note that the MySQL server is an extra service, that while offered by many Internet Service Providers, usually must be requested before it can be used. Be sure to ask your ISP to establish and configure a MySQL account for you before beginning the exercises in this series.

The Database
Beyond its use as a vehicle for delivering porn to the masses, the database has become an integral part of almost every human's life. Without it, many things we do would become very tedious, perhaps impossible tasks. Banks, universities, and libraries are three examples of organizations that depend heavily on some sort of database system. On the Internet, search engines, online shopping, and even the website naming convention (http://www...) would be impossible without the use of a database. A database that is implemented and interfaced on a computer is often termed a database server.

One of the fastest SQL (Structured Query Language) database servers currently offered on the market is the MySQL server, developed by T.c.X. DataKonsultAB. MySQL, available here, offers the database programmer with an array of options and capabilities rarely seen in other database servers. What's more, MySQL is free of charge for all those wishing to use it for private and commercial use (those wishing to develop applications specifically using MySQL should consult MySQL's licensing section, as there is a charge for licensing the product).

These capabilities include the ability to handle an unlimited number of simultaneous users, with over 50,000,000 records, while providing very fast command execution, plus an easy to use and efficient user privilege system. However, perhaps the most interesting characteristic of all is the fact that it's actually free. That's right, MySQL is a free product available to the general public, which has led this db server to gain enormous popularity within corporate circles, and beyond:

At First Glance
New users, and especially those with limited skills and primarily desktop computing experience should rely on software solutions that will make the MySQL setup and administration process run much more smoothly. Personally, I find phpMyAdmin to be a simple Web-based admin tool for users combining php with MySQL, but MySQL is also most commonly entered through telnet (a nice Telnet program, Easyterm, can be found here .) Once the connection to the web server has been accomplished, a second command provides access to the MySQL server.

Once the connection to the web server has been accomplished, a second command provides access to the MySQL server. Consult your software's documentation for the specific procedures. If an error message such as "Access denied" is the result of connection attempts, then you should consult the MySQL documentation included with your software, the MySQL mailing list, as well as your ISP. These resources will aid in resolving connectivity and other problems.

Once connected to the database, we are free to execute the various commands of the MySQL language. Almost all commands in MySQL are followed by a semi-colon, and initially you should see a number of administrative commands. These commands can be viewed simply by typing help, \h or ? at the command line if you are using a Telnet connection:

mysql> help

help (\h) Display this text

? (\h) Synonym for 'help'

clear (\c) Clear command

connect (\r) Reconnect to server. Options are db and host

edit (\e) Edit command with $EDITOR

exit (\) Exit mysql. Same as quit

go (\g) Send command to mysql server

print (\p) Print current command

quit (\q) Quit mysql

rehash (\#) Rebuild completion hash

status (\s) Get status information from the server

use (\u) Use another database. Takes database name as argument

Connection id: 49 (Can be used with mysqladmin kill)


Perhaps not all functions will be immediately useful, however it would be wise to test each one to see exactly what it entails. However, functions such as: status, use, print, connect, clear, and quit will probably prove to be very useful from the start, so be sure to become familiar with them.

You should now have a basic understanding of how to connect to the server, select the database, and perform basic commands. The next section will cover the concepts and techniques needed to properly setup up the database for manipulation.