Thursday, 13 March 2014

Oracle for Absolute Beginners: Part 4 - Multi-table queries

Read: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

A wise man* once said: To build the Great Wall of China, you must start with a brick. In our previous articles we acquainted ourselves with our bricks; now it’s time to build. If we consider what we’ve learned so far – Select, Update, Insert, Delete – as unicellular organisms, what we’re about to do next is multicellular, big and beautiful – it’s like going from an amoeba to a bee, a butterfly, to Beyoncé.
[*that wise man was me]
Consider a real-world requirement that we might have of our Addressbook database; since it contains a list of our friends and their phone numbers, we will naturally want to see a list of their names and their phone numbers. Ah, but that presents a problem. Our friends’ names are in the FRIEND_NAME table, while their phone numbers are in the PHONE_NUMBER table. And complicating things further, we can only tell which number belongs to which friend by looking in the FRIEND_PHONE table. Aaargh!


We could, of course, get the information by running a series of queries: one select to find our friends’ names and their friend_id; a second to find the phone_id of the phone number linked to each friend in FRIEND_PHONE; and a third query to find the number from PHONE_NUMBER using the phone_id we identified in our second query. So yes, it can be done. But hey, you can probably ride a unicycle across Siberia – but that didn’t stop them from inventing the car.
What we need are joins. We need a select statement that can query multiple tables at the same time.
The syntax for a multi-table select statement is as follows:

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