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Table of contents
1.
What is backend? How does it work?
2.
What is a database? Why is it important for web development?
3.
Top Databases for web application development
3.1.
PostgreSQL
3.2.
MySQL
3.3.
SQLite
3.4.
Oracle
3.5.
Microsoft SQL Server
3.6.
MongoDB
3.7.
Apache Cassandra
3.8.
IBM DB2
3.9.
Elasticsearch
3.10.
Neo4j
3.11.
Firebird SQL
3.12.
Redis
3.13.
MariaDB
4.
Why should one prefer an SQL database?
5.
Cases where an SQL database is not preferred
6.
Frequently Asked Questions
6.1.
What are databases used for in web development?
6.2.
What is the best database software for web development?
6.3.
Which SQL is best for web development?
6.4.
What database can I use for my website?
7.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 31, 2024

SQL & Databases for Web Development

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What is backend? How does it work?

SQL & Databases

The visual part of a website, what the user sees when he visits it is known as the frontend and the interaction that the user has with the website is handled by backend. Backend is essentially a technology that supports the frontend of a website. It offers interactivity with the data stored in the database and offers the users a wholesome experience.

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Backend development is a combination of server-side programming languages namely Python, Java, Ruby, PHP etc. and logic-based development which connects, fetches and alters data in the database according to the interplay between the user and the website. Backend development deals with the overall performance and the speed of the website. It continuously runs calls back and forth, retrieving and pushing data from and into the schema.
Also Read, Front End Web Development

What is a database? Why is it important for web development?

Before understanding what is Database, we need to understand what exactly data is. Data is a collection of objects ranging from plain simple facts to complex images which provide us with necessary information about a particular entity. A database is an organised and structured collection of this data and a database management system (DBMS) is a tool which manages, organises and interacts with the databases.

There are several different types of DBMS. Four major types are – Navigational DBMS, Relational DBMS, SQL DBMS and Object-Oriented DBMS. The scope of this blog is to deal with SQL Data Base Management Systems but to understand that, a little introduction of Relational DBMS is necessary.

Relational DBMS is essentially a database management system wherein data is stored in the form of relations. On the other hand, SQL DBMS utilizes Structured Query Language (SQL) to perform operations like insert, search, update and delete. It helps in optimizing and maintaining the data within the database.

Web technologies are advancing fast. While you are wondering what ‘web applications’ are, developers have started to transition to ‘progressive web applications.’ Almost every web application on the web requires a database. A shopping application requires a database to interact with the products and the customers.

A dynamic web application such as a news application or a blog requires instant and frequent updating of web pages. For such an application, altering and creating a new HTML page is a tedious task. This is where a database comes into the picture and eases a developer’s life.   

Not only retrieval and updating of data, but a database also helps in authentication which is observed in websites having a login and signup functionality. Such websites display customised web pages based on the logged in user. Databases can be a real boon to a web developer if used correctly.

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Top Databases for web application development

Different types of databases that use SQL

PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL is a relational database management system which is open source and has been used by developers since a really long time. It has several features which add to the performance of a website. PostgreSQL offers basic to advanced features which makes it a pretty versatile tool.

Popular companies which use PostgreSQL – Apple, Skype, Instagram, NASA, Twitch, Spotify, IMDb, Reddit etc.

MySQL

MySQL has been ranked as the most popular relational database in existence. It is open-source, extremely easy to use and has been widely accepted by several companies and websites. MySQL is also the first database management system most developers come across. If you are beginner, this is a good DBMS to start with.

Popular companies which use MySQL – Uber, Airbnb, Pinterest, Netflix, Amazon, Twitter, Shopify etc.

SQLite

SQLite is not exactly a database management system but is a database engine which provides local data storage services for a large number of applications and devices. SQLite is preferred for embedded devices and devices which utilize the concepts of the internet of things. It is also used on desktops as an on-disk file format. If you have a small or a medium scaled website, SQLite will be your savior.

Popular companies which use SQLite – Career Club, Internet Brands Inc., Airgas, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, SAS etc.

Oracle

Oracle Database is a paid service but is a high-performing and widely available database management system. It is easy to use and offers multiple functionalities to make the developer’s and the user’s job easier. It is an SQL based database management system. However, the syntax differs a little from the other database management systems.

Popular companies which use Oracle Database – JPMorgan Chase, Fiserv, Lockheed Martin, Webster Bank etc.

Microsoft SQL Server

Microsoft SQL Server is a relational database management system (RDBMS) developed by Microsoft. It is a comprehensive database platform that provides robust features for data storage, management, and analysis. SQL Server supports both structured query language (SQL) and Transact-SQL (T-SQL) for querying and managing databases. It offers features such as data warehousing, business intelligence, high availability, and security features like row-level security and data encryption. SQL Server is widely used in enterprise environments for mission-critical applications due to its scalability, reliability, and integration with other Microsoft products.

MongoDB

MongoDB is a popular NoSQL database that uses a document-oriented data model. It stores data in flexible, JSON-like documents, making it easy to represent complex hierarchical relationships and schema-less data. MongoDB's flexible schema allows for dynamic and fast-paced development, as schema modifications can be made without downtime. It offers features such as automatic sharding for horizontal scalability, replica sets for high availability, and support for geospatial queries. MongoDB is commonly used in modern web applications, IoT (Internet of Things) platforms, and big data projects.

Apache Cassandra

Apache Cassandra is a distributed NoSQL database designed for scalability and high availability. It is optimized for handling large volumes of data across multiple nodes in a distributed environment. Cassandra uses a masterless architecture with a decentralized peer-to-peer design, enabling linear scalability and fault tolerance. It offers features such as tunable consistency levels, built-in caching, and support for multi-datacenter replication. Cassandra is commonly used in applications requiring high write throughput and low-latency data access, such as real-time analytics, messaging platforms, and recommendation engines.

IBM DB2

IBM DB2 is a family of relational database management systems developed by IBM. It is known for its robustness, scalability, and support for various operating systems and platforms. DB2 offers features such as multi-row fetch, native SQL procedures, and support for XML data. It provides advanced capabilities for data warehousing, analytics, and OLAP (Online Analytical Processing). DB2 is widely used in enterprise environments for transactional processing, data warehousing, and business intelligence applications.

Elasticsearch

Elasticsearch is a distributed search and analytics engine designed for horizontal scalability and real-time data analysis. It is built on top of Apache Lucene and provides RESTful APIs for indexing, searching, and analyzing structured and unstructured data. Elasticsearch supports full-text search, geospatial queries, and aggregations, making it suitable for a wide range of use cases such as log analysis, monitoring, and e-commerce search. It is commonly used in conjunction with Kibana and Logstash as part of the ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana) stack for log management and analytics.

Neo4j

Neo4j is a graph database management system designed for storing, querying, and analyzing highly connected data. It uses a native graph storage and processing engine, enabling efficient traversal of relationships between nodes in a graph structure. Neo4j provides a query language called Cypher for expressing graph patterns and performing complex graph queries. It is commonly used in applications requiring real-time recommendations, social network analysis, fraud detection, and network and IT operations management.

Firebird SQL

Firebird SQL is an open-source relational database management system derived from Borland InterBase. It is known for its lightweight footprint, cross-platform compatibility, and embedded database capabilities. Firebird SQL offers features such as multi-generational architecture, support for stored procedures and triggers, and ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) compliance. It is commonly used in embedded applications, desktop software, and small to medium-sized business applications.

Redis

Redis is an open-source, in-memory data structure store commonly used as a cache, message broker, and session store. It supports various data structures such as strings, hashes, lists, sets, and sorted sets, allowing for versatile data manipulation and storage. Redis offers features such as replication, clustering, persistence options, and built-in Lua scripting. It is commonly used in web applications, real-time analytics, and distributed systems requiring fast data access and low latency.

MariaDB

MariaDB is an open-source relational database management system and a drop-in replacement for MySQL. It is developed by the original creators of MySQL and is known for its high performance, scalability, and reliability. MariaDB offers features such as support for multiple storage engines, including InnoDB and Aria, as well as compatibility with MySQL APIs and tools. It is commonly used in web applications, e-commerce platforms, and enterprise environments for mission-critical applications requiring robust relational database capabilities.

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Why should one prefer an SQL database?

Databases which use SQL are relational databases. Such databases have a strictly defined schema which cannot change for specific tuples (entries/entities/rows). It is fairly easy to connect to and retrieve data from different tables. NoSQL databases have a huge drawback of duplicity of data. This means that if you have to connect one entry to another, separate space and effort would be required. However, in SQL databases, connections can be made using ‘joins’ and ‘keys’ which makes the job a lot easier.

SQL databases are preferred for situations where the schema has to remain unchanged for a large duration of time.  It is also preferred when you require data integrity, data durability, data isolation, data consistency and data atomicity. In short, it can be remembered as ‘when your requirement is ACIDic, use SQL database’. Which means, when you require Atomicity (meaning, you want your request to either be fulfilled completely or not fulfilled at all), Consistency (meaning, all the data in your database should be in accordance with the rules defined in the schema), Isolation (meaning, no two requests overlap each other) and Durability (meaning, a request stays on permanently even if the system fails), SQL database is an excellent choice.

Cases where an SQL database is not preferred

NoSQL databases do not have a well-defined schema which makes it flexible. It means, if you have an application which will require a database that has the functionality of altering the schema based on the entity, then NoSQL databases like MongoDB, DynamoDB etc. are preferred.

NoSQL databases are preferred when speed is a priority, they can access and retrieve large volumes of data within a short amount of time. The null values are handled really well in a NoSQL DBMS. In an SQL based database management system, updating one attribute might take a month to execute if the dataset is humongous, however in a NoSQL database, that can be done within no time and hence becomes cost-effective both in terms of money and computational power, and developer friendly since it saves a lot of time and effort.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are databases used for in web development?

Databases in web development store and manage data for websites, facilitating user authentication, content management, and dynamic content delivery.

What is the best database software for web development?

The best database software for web development depends on project requirements; popular choices include MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB.

Which SQL is best for web development?

SQL databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQLite are commonly used for web development due to their reliability, performance, and support.

What database can I use for my website?

For websites, consider databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, or MongoDB based on factors like scalability, performance, and data structure requirements.

Conclusion

Often developers come across a situation where they are unable to decide which database to prefer, SQL or NoSQL. This is when research about your data and how it will be used on your platform comes into picture. Understand what your application is trying to do and what all features and functionalities do you want to provide to the users.

For analytical, logical and applications requiring high levels of integrity, prefer SQL database management systems. And if your main focus is speed, performance or handling of a large amount of data, you should go for NoSQL database management systems.

You can also consider our Database Management Course to give your career an edge over others.

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