This week I dove into the world of SQL Databases with the help of online resource Treehouse. I’ve been a paid subscriber of Treehouse on and off, since 2013 and I’ve largely dabbled in their range of FED courses (HTML, CSS and JS) to date. The way the team at Treehouse handle self paced learning is incredible and industry leading. It’s a mix of video content, quiz questions to check your understanding, and interactive code challenges, all supported by their super friendly user lead Community. Sure, standard learning tool framework by today’s standards, but it’s been like this since I enrolled in 2013. Over time Treehouse hasn’t rested on it’s laurels, further adding content and enhancing the slick delivery of content to their users. Courses now range from FED languages, to Start Up Business guides, Dev Tools, Backend Languages, Mobile Development and even Virtual Reality.

In my working capacity I am the Customer Experience Technical Team Leader for Xero – Beautiful Accounting Software. Whilst I’ve had exposure to SQL databases in this role, it’s been limited to an awareness of how they relate to the product rather than a full understanding. I guess it’s because of this level of understanding and my curious nature of the unknown, that SQL seemed like a logical place to start. I really wanted to broaden my SQL knowledge to further understand how one of our internal tools, which queries the database, works behind the scenes.

Treehouse give you a couple of options when learning with them. You can choose to either pick a subject, seeing all related courses of mixed skill levels and work through any of the chosen courses, or pick one of their learning Tracks. Learning Tracks takes several courses and neatly stitches them together, taking you from noob to ninja in your chosen subject over several hours or weeks. I opted for the Tracks option, which aimed to take me from the bottom to the top in just over 5hours.

The course starts as expected, with a SQL Basics overview. This portion of the course covers the ‘Read’ element of C.R.U.D (Create, Read, Update and Delete), and some of the basic keywords that are reusable at the latter stages of SQL (WHICH, IN, IS, LIKE etc). After watching the awesome tutor lead sessions with Andrew Chalkley (@Chalkers), completing a few quiz’s and code challenges I was ready for stage 2 of the Track, ‘Modifying Data with SQL’.

Oh, and here’s the bit I really like about Treehouse. Badges! Gamification of learning!

Modifying Data with SQL picked up where SQL Basics left off, completing the Create, Update and Delete elements of C.R.U.D. Again, the code challenges were key to solidifying my understanding. They’re SSF (short, sweet and fun!). The scenarios are largely fictitious and operate on a small scale, not the hundreds of thousands of DB records you’d be handling in the wild. I guess this is what make’s it fun and not daunting. Booya! Another section of the 5 hour Track done and dusted!

My week rounded off by completing the ‘Reporting with SQL’ module. Data is only really useful when you can question it in unusual or unique ways. This module took me through text manipulation, working with dates and numbers, and was by far the most challenging of them all. By this point my confidence in my new found learning had grown¬†significantly, so I headed over to the Community a place where I have previously sought guidance. It was really nice to be able to give something back to other users, who just like me had struggled with some of the self paced tasks at times. This really allowed me to flex to old grey matter and put into practice everything I had learnt across the first 3 course of this Learning Track.

I really enjoyed this week of learning and have just 1 more module (approx 2 hours), of the Learning Track (Querying Relational Databases), which I’ll be getting my teeth stuck into tomorrow. I found myself addicted to the subject by the end of the week. Whilst I’m not currently involved in writing SQL I now have a good understanding of the language, how it’s used to query databases and how this all works in relation to our internal tool, which was the main aim of this week.

I’d recommend Treehouse¬†to anyone who is wanting to learn to code. It assumes a knowledge of zero in your chosen subject and builds you up from there. Feel free to use the below link when you sign up for 50% off your first month.



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