SQL Collation: SQL Server & MySQL

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

There are rules involved when we sort information, particularly, if we want it to have some meaning. In this lesson, we'll take a look at SQL collation, what it is, and how it differs from SQL Server to MySQL.

Ordering Information

We want to apply some sort of order to our data. We store the cell phone numbers of our friends in alphabetical order based on the owner's name, business's store inventory information in numerical order based on the stock number, and our friends store their grocery list in shelf order based on the direction they traverse the aisles and the order the products are placed on the shelves. The order makes the items or entries easy to find, particularly in a database. So, it makes sense there would be some rules associated with creating this order. There are, and they're known as SQL collation.

What is SQL?

SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a technology that allows you to interact with a database using a series of commands. This interaction takes many forms, including searching, sorting, retrieving, and storing, information. SQL was developed in the early 1970s by IBM, but didn't become a product until 1979 when Oracle offered it. Since that time, SQL has become an important part of many businesses' repertoires. They use it both as a tool and as part of their product offerings.

What are SQL Server and MySQL?

SQL Server and MySQL are Relational Database Management Systems, or RDBMS for short. SQL Server is a paid product released by Microsoft, and MySQL is an open source offering that is freely available to everyone. The relational part is specific because there are other types. Relational databases store information in tables. Each row of the table is a record, or group of related information. Within a record, each column is a field, a piece of that related information. As an example, suppose you have a database of contact information. Then each row would correspond to a single person. A field would be each of the columns or pieces: the name, the address, and the telephone number, specific to that person.

What is SQL Collation?

SQL collation is about order. Or to be more precise, it is the attribute of a field that determines how that field will be sorted. It is important to note that collation only applies to character-based fields. Numeric-based fields already have an implied order, the magnitude of the value.

How is Collation Different for SQL Server and MySQL?

For the most part, collation is the same for SQL Server and MySQL. They have settings that include:

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