A few of the desirable qualities of a database include robustness, scalability and efficiency, among others. Developers are usually interested to find out what features the DBMS (database management system) has and how it works with different technologies. However, these are not the only important aspects; they’re certainly not what a budding web developer is interested in, at least not initially.
Below is a list of five of the best DBMSs on the market based on set-up and installation costs, user interface layout and support, which are especially important for beginner developers.
1. MySQL community server
This is an excellent platform for beginners, and its open-source, which is another great plus. Once you get to large scale commercial applications, there are premium versions with extended capability. It can also be run on Mac, Windows and Linux systems. If you also use the open-source MySQL Workbench, you can additionally get a neat graphical user interface to help with your visual designs and database tables. The help documentation is also decent.
2. Microsoft Access
This one is not free, but it does come as a part of Microsoft Office, which means you probably have it already. Before investing in the full version, you can use the trial version for 60 days to find out if you like it enough. Unlike MySQL, Access has just one installation, both for the design tool and DBMS.
However, it does have a few limitations, including inflexibility regarding the OS platforms on which it can be run. Also, with too many simultaneous connections, the performance begins to go down, which means it is ideal for use in low traffic sites only.
3. MS SQL Server Express
This is first in the list that caters for the ‘big guns’ and is one of the three most popular DBMSs. The server applications and design tools have to be installed separately, and its functionality is actually very similar to DB2 Express and Oracle Express as far as functionality and tools go.
Its differences, however, come in the SQL syntax, which means that for the next three, no one is listed to be superior to the other. MS SQL has only one major downside: it’s limited in the OS platforms on which it can be run.
4. Oracle Express Edition
This also comes with separate installation procedures for the design tools and server application. It offers more OS functionality options than the previous one. In addition, it also has a wider range of download options than any of the other four discussed in this list.
5. DB2 Express-C
This is very similar to the Oracle Express edition with the operating systems that it supports and the installation options. However, it is less commonly used, which means that there aren’t as abundant resources online – articles, examples, tutorials etc. It is, however, adequate for most users.
Deciding which to choose
Your choice of DBMS will largely depend on the reason for which you are learning SQL. If for work, for example, you want to choose the DBMS that you will be using at work. If you intend to apply your knowledge in web development technologies, then it’s easier if you use the DBMS created by/for the web technology in question.
If, on the other hand, you’re just learning for fun, the first two options will be great as they have great online content for beginners. You can graduate to the next three when you have achieved some mastery.
Chris Haris is a web developer and has also been offering remote DBA support services for the last 5 years. For more information on web design and development and to learn more about remote DB services click here.