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Getting to Know the All-Time Favorite MySQL Open Source Database

Lovelli has been writing for Blasting News for a little over a year now. She's adopted four kittens and dumped her Amazon bookstore.


Everyone uses MySQL

MySQL is the most popular database among developers in 2018 and 2017, according to Stack Overflow developer surveys. It is also considered one of the top trending techs among developers in 2016. It is used by many world-class applications, including MODx, Joomla, WordPress, MyBB, and Drupal, as well as big commercial web projects, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the photo sharing platform Flickr.

All relational databases are almost always based on Structured Query Language (SQL) or use relatively similar syntax. MySQL is an open source relational database management system (RDBMS) that runs on every platform, including Mac, Windows, Linux, and UNIX. It is backed by Oracle, and it is fully supported in the Microsoft Windows environment. SQL is used to insert, search, update, and delete records in relational databases, which by default do not support many-to-many relationships.

How MySQL works

The way MySQL works is it runs as a server, allowing several users to create and manage numerous databases. It is used often to store website data to be later retrieved from the database using the PHP programming language. Most web hosting providers already come with MySQL installed and support for PHP. WordPress, for example, provides additional plug-ins to help developers execute SQL queries on their websites.

SQL databases are organized in tables. Since MySQL databases are "relational", we can cross reference different tables within the database. But each column can only store one fixed type of data that must be defined and cannot be changed. SQL databases are vertically scalable in most cases, and we can increase the load on a single server by increasing things like CPU, random-access memory (RAM), or solid-state drive (SSD).

The main data types used are:

  • Integer - 2, 45, -16 and 23989
  • Float - 2.5, -.664, 43.8882, or 10.00001
  • Datetime - YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
  • Varchar - text or single characters
  • Blob - binary data other than text, such as file uploads
Helpful hackers have at it on the cheap with city data. Too good to be true?

Helpful hackers have at it on the cheap with city data. Too good to be true?

The client-server model

At the core of MySQL is the MySQL Server, which handles the database commands sent from the MySQL client that is installed on a computer. The server is provided separately to be used in a client-server networked environment and as an embeddable library that come in a separate application. In a client-server model, once the server has fulfilled the client's request the connection is then terminated.

What I envision a data blogger would have looked like on his laptop in his study.

What I envision a data blogger would have looked like on his laptop in his study.

A brief history of MySQL

A Swedish company, MySQL AB, created MySQL. The founders, David Axmark, Allan Larsson ad Michael "Monty" Widenius started developing the original MySQL in 1994. The name MySQL is a combination of the word "My", the name of Michael's daughter, and SQL. Sun Microsystems acquired MySQL AB for $1 billion in 2008; Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010.

A colorful digital visualization resulting from proper creation and management of sound data.

A colorful digital visualization resulting from proper creation and management of sound data.

The strengths and benefits of MySQL

MySQL possesses some well-known strengths in comparison to other relational databases. First is its range of support. MySQL supports multiple storage engines that each come with their own specifications. Meanwhile, other systems, such as SQL server, supports only a single storage engine. Due to its simplicity in design and its multi-storage engines support, MySQL is also able to deliver a higher performance compared to other relational database systems.

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Another thing about MySQL is that it is compatible with all major platforms, including Linux, Windows, Max, BSD, and Solaris. It is written in C and C++, but it is not limited to SQL query language only. MySQL has connectors to languages like Java, Python, Perl, Ruby, Node.js, and many others. It is a fairly mature database. There’s a huge community of developers behind it, ensuring for extensive testing and a sense of stability.

The next benefit is that MySQL is relatively cheaper in cost. Its free community edition allows anyone interested in learning and applying MySQL in their personal projects to be able to download, install, and configure the database on their machines. The database is open source and free, but the commercial edition has a licensing fee that is still considered cost-effective in comparison to the licensing fees for other products, such as the Microsoft SQL Server.

MySQL database can be replicated across nodes. This allows us to reduce our workload and scalability, while increasing the availability of the application. It can also support sharding, or partitions in a database, which is a cost-effective practice that businesses can benefit from. Other SQL databases cannot handle sharding, but MySQL can.

Where to find MySQL

Downloading MySQL and licensing information can be found on MySQL website. There are many components needed for a MySQL full installation to run smoothly, so many don’t even consider installing it. But to give you a general idea of how to get started with MySQL installation, there are three steps involved:

  1. Downloading the MySQL Installer.
  2. Installing and configuring MySQL on your machine.
  3. Installing the MySQL workbench.

To learn more about how to install the MySQL workbench on your Windows machine, this article will be useful:

Many requirements, such as Microsoft.NET frameworks and Visual Studio Tools for Office are needed before installing a Developer Default version of MySQL. There is a workaround, if you don't want to install so many things for the product to run, and that is to do a custom installation.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Lovelli Fuad


Lovelli Fuad (author) from Southeast Asia and the Pacific on September 06, 2019:

Deciding between Mongo DB and MySQL?! Well, both are open source, but MongoDB is NoSQL (non-relational). So what you're really comparing are the SQL database and the NoSQL database system. It's just like driving automatic vs. manual transmission vehicles.

Virgilio ricerca on August 18, 2018:

Info Source - Bank of Canada

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