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PHP 101 (part 8): Databases And Other Animals
Hook your PHP scripts up to a MySQL database.

| Animal Magnetism |

Every MySQL database is composed of one or more tables. These tables, which structure data into rows and columns, are what lend organization to the data.

Here's an example of what a typical table looks like:

''.preg_replace(array('/  /', '/ /'), array('  ', '   '), '
| id | country  | animal  |
|  1 | America  | eagle    |
|  2 | China    | dragon  |
|  3 | England  | lion    |
|  4 | India    | tiger    |
|  5 | Australia | kangaroo |
|  6 | Norway    | elk      |

As you can see, a table divides data into rows, with a new entry (or record) on every row. The data in each row is further broken down into cells (or fields), each of which contains a value for a particular attribute of the data. For example, if you consider the record for the country "India", you'll see that the record is clearly divided into separate fields for record number, country name and national animal.

The rows within a table are not arranged in any particular order - they can be sorted alphabetically, by number, by name, or by any other criteria you choose to specify. It is therefore necessary to have some method of identifying a specific record in a table. In the example above, each record is identified by a unique number; this unique field is referred to as the primary key for that table.

You use the Structured Query Language, SQL, to interact with the MySQL server and tell it to create a table, mark a field as primary, insert records, edit records, retrieve records... basically, anything that involves manipulating the data or the database. To see how this works, examine the following SQL, which creates the table above:


CREATE TABLE `symbols` (
    `id` int(11) NOT NULL auto_increment,
    `country` varchar(255) NOT NULL default '',
    `animal` varchar(255) NOT NULL default '',
    PRIMARY KEY  (`id`)

INSERT INTO `symbols` VALUES (1, 'America', 'eagle');
INSERT INTO `symbols` VALUES (2, 'China', 'dragon');
INSERT INTO `symbols` VALUES (3, 'England', 'lion');
INSERT INTO `symbols` VALUES (4, 'India', 'tiger');
INSERT INTO `symbols` VALUES (5, 'Australia', 'kangaroo');
INSERT INTO `symbols` VALUES (6, 'Norway', 'elk');

You can enter these commands either interactively or non-interactively through the MySQL client program. Read http://dev.mysql.com/doc/mysql/en/mysql.html for more information on how to use the MySQL client, and the tutorial at http://www.melonfire.com/community/columns/trog/article.php?id=39 to understand what each of the SQL commands above does. SQL is a lot like spoken English, so it won't take you very long to pick it up.

Once the data has been imported, run a quick SELECT query to check that everything is working as it should be:

mysql> SELECT * FROM `symbols`;
| id | country  | animal  |
|  1 | America  | eagle    |
|  2 | China    | dragon  |
|  3 | England  | lion    |
|  4 | India    | tiger    |
|  5 | Australia | kangaroo |
|  6 | Norway    | elk      |
6 rows in set (0.06 sec)

In English, the query above means "show me all the records from the table named symbols". If you saw the same output as above, you're good to go!

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