Going into the SQL workshop, I had next to no prior knowledge of anything to do with SQL. Working as an apprentice software developer, I use databases all the time and they are a staple for the solutions we offer as a company, however I didn’t really know the basic commands and ways to navigate around a database either at a command line level or UI level.

Huw was excellent in the way he built up conversations and laid the groundwork for the rest of the session. We started off talking about data, information and records, and the differences between the three. These are all words that we use in a variety of jobs across a multitude of fields of work, but the definitions are rarely thought about. We talked about how to distinguish information from data, and came to the conclusion that data starts to become information when it becomes self-explanatory.

Moving on from this, Huw gave examples of different kinds of records, and used a Supermarket as a scenario for our thoughts to be based around.  We started off talking about index cards and how they may be useful for a small store, but when there are a lot of records that need to be kept such as in a big supermarket they become less useful.

Huw gave us an exercise that revolved around making our own index cards of data for things such as transactions, products, stores etc, and I thought that this was an excellent way of giving a visual and practical example of what he was trying to express, and it worked especially well for those of us who learn better in a hands on situation.

After this, we talked about spreadsheets and how they may be an improvement over index cards as it is much easier to find data and compare data using them, but decided that they are still not quite as useful as a database is on a large scale.

We then moved on to the basic commands used for SQL and the syntax for each of them. Huw gave us a handout with descriptions of what each of the commands did, and an example of how to use them. I found this very useful as it was a real example of the syntax and it gave us a great idea of exactly what a query looks like in SQL.

We had a break for lunch after this, and when we came back Huw gave us a worksheet with lots of questions and exercises for us to work through to practice using the SQL commands that we’d seen before. Learning like this was great because it gave us time to look more closely at the ways SQL can be used and the different types of queries that we can run to gather more information using data in a database.

Towards the end of the workshop, Huw asked us if we had any questions or concerns and gave detailed answers to the questions that people had.

All in all, Huw was an excellent tutor and the workshop was a great success. I definitely think that with enough interest, a more advanced workshop would be just as good, if not better.

Lewis Leeds