What is Visual SQL and Why Do I Need it?

Visual SQL

Structured Query Language, or “S-Q-L”, or “sequel” is the computer programming language that is designed to manage large data sources that usually live in relational databases. Since the 1980s standardardization organizations like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or the International Standardization Organization (ISO) have accepted SQL as the standard for manipulation and retrieval of data from these large relational databases. Although there are standards and accepted norms for these languages, not all SQL syntax is the same from database to database. Unless you are using Chartio’s Visual SQL.

Understanding the importance of data-driven decision making can move your company from Seed to Series A to Series B and beyond, hopefully to IPO.

Visual SQL is made up of a few parts, which this Tutorial Series will go into more detail on later. This tutorial will be the groundwork for what is Visual SQL.

First we have to understand some basics about how SQL and more importantly Visual SQL operate when pulling data from a data source.

A data source, often a database and in the case of most SQL use cases a relational database is just a library of tables of data that reside in computer memory. Tables that are often updated and changed with new information from updated customer records or changing internal records or changing parameters are referred to as “Production Databases” and are for all intents and purposes the main database. Replica databases or reporting databases are simply reproductions of the main database that is meant for the end user of the data for reporting purposes. Often times, and it is a recommended best practice of Chartio, you will be querying a replica or reporting database.

Databases are libraries of tables that are stored together, those tables are made up of columns and rows as you might expect. These columns hold specific metrics and the rows are individual records in the tables. We go into much more detail on the makeup of tables in databases.

The relationship between the tables of data in the database and the chart you are looking to build is fairly simple when you break it down. The chart you are looking to build is a graphical representation of the data after going through some sort of analysis. The resulting data that makes up the chart will also exist in a table format. That table is a subset of data that first resided in the database. To get the data from the database into the table you need to make a chart you must ask the database for the specified subset of the data. The SQL statement is the question that you are asking.


What a SQL statement does is it questions or queries the database for a specific set of information that is outlined in the query itself. When writing SQL code the long way, you are writing a statement that is referred to as a query. When using Chartio’s Visual SQL you are using the drag and drop user interface to build the query that is being sent to the database requesting the information you outline in the query.

There are potentially millions or billions of rows of data in the database and you need to analyze a small portion of that. That is what SQL does for you, it allows you to request or query the database for some smaller set of information that it holds. Visual SQL removes the need for you to have to memorize syntax or a number of different syntaxes for various different types of databases. Visual SQL gives you the power to request data from one or many databases that are all using different syntax with a “sort of” agnostic querying language that you yourself don’t even need to type.

Once you have the smaller subset of the database’s data into a simpler table, Chartio’s chart library can build the visualization you want for you. The Chart creator in Chartio will not only recommend a chart type for you based on the makeup of the resultant table, but if the data does not fit the visualization type you may select, Chartio will show recommendations for manipulations and edits you can make to the data to get it into the proper format.

Visual SQL is the bridge between the user and the many different types of datasources, and there are no tricky programming languages you actually have to learn or memorize. There are no sets of codes you have to type in the right order, and troubleshoot again and again. All you have to do is know how to operate a computer’s mouse. Click, drag, drop. That is all the syntax you need to know.

In the next tutorial, we will explain data sources and database schemas and how you can explore them via Visual SQL. If you would like to use Visual SQL, you can try it out with a Chartio free trial.