Beyond SQL: 8 new languages for data querying Otesanya David March 28, 2022

Beyond SQL: 8 new languages for data querying

Beyond SQL: 8 new languages for data querying


For the last three decades, databases and Structured Query Language (SQL) were almost synonymous. Anyone who wanted to retrieve information from a database had to learn SQL. Anyone who wanted to care for a database or take a job as a database administrator needed to master its nuances.

The language itself is a throwback, an opportunity to think and code as the mainframe users did. While the rest of the world embraced lowercase letters, SQL users continued to type words like SELECT or WHERE. Even today, few seem to care that some Tik Tok users mock them or ask why they are shouting. If ALL CAPS was good enough for punchcard deck jockeys wearing ties and short sleeve shirts, well, it’s still good enough for today’s remote worker wearing teddy bear pajamas.

But SQL’s hold on data retrieval is slipping. New databases are emerging, and some speak entirely new languages. It’s not that SQL is becoming less popular. If anything, more SQL is being written than ever. It’s just that the world of data storage is exploding even faster, and some of that growth is spurring an urge to experiment and branch out.

This article introduces eight newer approaches to retrieving data. In some cases, the innovations are merely cosmetic. Developers have updated SQL’s syntax to make it a bit neater and easier to read, so it’s less jarring to shift gears between writing code for the browser and retrieving data. The creators of these tools emphasize that the underlying structure is essentially the same as SQL. It will still be easy to learn. Don’t worry.

Other tools invite us to think in a completely different way. Databases that store their bits in graphs or in a time series offer new paradigms for how programmers specify what they want to find.

Not all of these options will be better than SQL for what you need to do. Not all of them will capture the possibilities you are seeking. But all offer a chance to think differently about that sea of bytes on some server, just waiting for you to find a way to spell out what you need.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.


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