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Introduction to Views

 

Fundamentals of Views

 

Introduction

From studying data analysis, we know that a query is a technique of isolating a series of columns and/or records of a table. This is usually done for the purpose of data analysis. This can also be done to create a new list of items for any particular reason. Most of the time, a query is created temporarily, such as during data analysis. After using such a temporary list, it is then dismissed.

Many database applications, including Microsoft SQL Server, allow you to create a query and be able to save it for later use, or even to use it as if it were its own pseudo-table. This is the idea behind a view.

A view is a series of records retrieved from one or more existing tables, or as a combination of one or more views and one or more tables.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Introducing Views

  1. Open the Bethesda Car Rental1 (Bethesda Car Rental1.txt) file. Select all its contents and copy to the clipboard (Click inside the document, press Ctrl + A  then press Ctrl + C)
  2. Launch Microsoft SQL Server and connect
  3. On the Standard toolbar, click New Query button New Query
  4. Paste the code you had copied (right-click inside the Query Editor and click Paste)
  5. To execute, right-click inside the Query Editor and click Execute
  6. In the Object Explorer, expand Databases, expand BethesdaCarRental1
  7. Right-click Database Diagrams and click New Database Diagram
  8. A message box will inform you that this database doesn't have a diagram.
    Read the message and click Yes
  9. In the Add Table dialog box, click Add and keep clicking it until all tables have been added
  10. Click Close.
    Notice that, based on how we created the database and its objects, the relationships have been established (except for the cars categories table):
     
    Lambda Square
  11. Close the diagram window
  12. When asked whether you want to save it, click Yes
  13. Set its name to dgmBethesdaCarRental1
  14. Click OK

Visually Creating a View

Before creating a view, you must first decide where its columns and records would come from. Obviously the easiest view is one whose columns and records come from one table. To create a view, you can use the Object Explorer, a Query Editor, the Command Prompt, or Windows PowerShell.

Before starting the view, you would have to specify the table(s) that would be involved. To create a view from the Object Explorer, you can expand the database, right-click Views and click New View... This would open the Add Table dialog box:

The basic functionality is exactly the same as we reviewed for the Query Designer:

  • To specify the table that would be used as the source, you can click it in the list box of the Tables property page
  • If you will use another existing view, from the Views property page, you can click the name of the desired view
  • If a function would be used to generate the records, you can locate it in the Functions property page

After selecting the source object, you can either double-click it or you can click it once and click Add. In in the previous lesson, we saw that you could add more than one existing table.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Creating a View

  1. In the Object Explorer, under BethesdaCarRental1, right-click Views and click New View...
  2. In the Add Table dialog box, click Cars (Management)
  3. Click Add
  4. Click Close

The View Designer

After selecting the objects, they would display in the window. The View Designer toolbar would be added:

Query Designer Toolbar

If the View Designer toolbar is not visible:

  • On the main menu, click View -> Toolbars -> View Designer
  • Right-click any toolbar or the main menu and click View Designer

The window from which you create a view, the View Designer, displays four sections. These are the same sections for the Query Designer. Each section is represented on the View Designer toolbar by a button: the Show Diagram Pane button Show Diagram Pane, the Show Criteria Pane button Show Criteria Pane, the Show SQL Pane button Show SQL Pane, and the Show Result Pane button Show Result Pane.

If you don't want a particular section or you want to hide some sections, you can right-click anywhere in the table, position the mouse on Pane and click the name of the section. To hide any section, you can right-click anywhere in the window, position the mouse on Pane and click one of the selections:

Using Panes

When a section is displaying, its menu option is surrounded. To select a column:

  • Click its check box in the Diagram pane. This would display it in a box under the Column section of the Criteria pane and would add its name to the SELECT statement of the SQL pane
  • Click an empty box in the Column column to reveal its combo box, then click the arrow of the combo box and select the desired column from the list. After selecting the column, its check box would be checked in the top section of the window, its name would be displayed in the Column column, and it would be added to the SELECT statement in the SQL pane
  •  Type the name of the column in the SELECT statement of the SQL pane

The structure of a view can be considered complete when the SELECT statement is as complete as possible. At any time, to test the results of a view, you can run it. To see the result of a query:

  • On the main menu, click Query Designer -> Execute SQL
  • On the View Designer toolbar, click the Execute SQL button Execute
  • Right-click one of the panes and click Execute SQL

Any of these actions would cause the bottom section of the view to display the results of the query.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Adding the Columns of a View

  • In the Diagram pane, click the check boxes of TagNumber, Category, Make, Model, and AvailabilityStatus
     

    New View

Saving a View

As stated already, one of the reasons for creating a view is to be able to use it over and over again. To achieve this, the view must be saved. Like most objects in Microsoft SQL Server, a view must be saved and given a name.

To save a view from the view window, you can click the Save button on the toolbar Save. You can also attempt to close the window. You would then be prompted to save it.

The Name of a View

When saving a view, you must give it a name that follows the rules and suggestions of SQL. In our lessons, here are the rules we will use to name our views:

  • A name will start with a letter. Examples are n, act, or Second
  • After the first letter, the name will have combinations of underscores, letters, and digits. Examples are n24, act_52_t
  • A name will not include special characters such as !, @, #, $, %, ^, &, or *
  • A name will not have spaces
  • If the name is a combination of words, each word will start in uppercase. Examples are DateHired, RealSport, or DriversLicenseNumber

After saving a view, it becomes part of the Views node of its database: a node would be created for it and its name would appear in the Views node of its database.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Saving a View

  1. To close the view, click its system Close button Close
  2. When asked whether you want to save the items, click Yes
  3. In the Choose Name dialog box, type AvailableCars
  4. Click OK

Creating a View in Transact-SQL

To programmatically create a view, you use the following formula:

CREATE VIEW [SchemaName.]ViewName
AS
SELECT Statement

Microsoft SQL Server can generate skeleton code of a view for you. To use it, first create an empty Query Editor. Display the Template Explorer and expand the View node. From the View node, drag Create View and drop it in the Query Editor.

The creation of a view starts with the CREATE VIEW expression followed by a name. After the name of the view, use the AS keyword to indicate that you are ready to define the view.

Because a view is primarily a query, it is defined using a SELECT statement, using the same rules we studied for data analysis. Here is an example of a view:

USE rosh;
GO

CREATE VIEW FemaleStudents
AS
SELECT FirstName, LastName, Gender, ParentsNames
FROM Registration.Students;
GO

After creating the SQL statement that defines the view, you must execute the statement.

Encrypting a View

When creating a view, if you want, you can encrypt its entry in the database engine. The formula to follow to do this is:

CREATE VIEW [SchemaName.]ViewName
WITH ENCRYPTION
AS
SELECT Statement

Hee is an example:

CREATE VIEW Personnel.EmployeesIdentifications
WITH ENCRYPTION
AS
    SELECT EmplNbr,
    	   FirstName,
    	   LastName 
    FROM Personnel.Employees;
GO

Opening or Executing a View

 

Opening a View

As stated already, a view is a technique of selecting records to view or use over an over again. After a view has been created, you can open it. You have two main options:

  • To see the structure of a view, such as the table(s) on which it is based and the relationships, if any that compose it, in the Object Explorer, right-click the view and click Design
  • To see the SQL code that makes up a view, in the Object Explorer, right-click the view and click Select Top 1000 Rows

Executing a View

Executing a view consists of seeing its results. You have various options. To view the results of a view:

  • Open an empty Query Editor associated with the database that contains the view. In the Query Editor, write a SELECT statement using the same formulas and rules we saw for tables
  • From the Object Explorer, expand the database and its Views node. Right-click the name of the view and click Select Top 1000 Rows

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Executing a View

  1. In the Object Explorer, under BethesdaCarRental1, right-click Views and click Refresh
  2. Expand Views. Right-click dbo.AvailableCars and click Select Top 1000 Rows
     
    Executing a View
  3. Close the view window

The Properties of a View

In Transact-SQL, a view is considered an object. As such, it can be viewed, changed, or deleted. Like any regular object, a view has its own characteristics. To see them, you can right-click the view and click Properties. A View Properties dialog box would come up. It can give you information such as the name of the database the view belongs to, the date the view was created, etc.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Accessing the Properties of a View

  1. In the Object Explorer, under BethesdaCarRental1, in the Views section, right-click dbo.AvailableCars and click Properties
     
    Accessing the Properties of a View
  2. After examining the dialog box, press Esc to close the Properties dialog box

View Maintenance

 

Renaming a View

After creating and executing a view, you can change its name with little worries with regards to its functionality.

To visually rename a view, in the Object Explorer, right-click the name of the view and click Rename. the name of the view will be highlighted without its schema. You can then type the new name.

To programmatically rename a view, open a Query Editor and use the following formula:

sp_rename CurrentViewName, NewName;

If the view uses a schema other than dbo, you must include it in the CurrentViewName. Here is an example:

sp_rename N'Personnel.StaffMembers', N'EmployeesNames';
GO

When renaming a view, you must take care of the permissions associated with it because those permissions will be lost.

Altering a View

After a view has been created, either by you or someone else, you may find out that it has an unnecessary column, it needs a missing column, it includes unnecessary records, or some records are missing. Fortunately, you can change the structure or the code of a view. This is referred to as altering a view.

Most of the time, normal users are never asked to modify a view. There are many options to modify a view:

  • To visually change the appearance of a view, in the Object Explorer, right-click the view and click Design. From the View Designer, you can add or remove the columns. You can also change any options in one of the panes. After modifying the view, save and close it
  • From the Object Explorer, right-click the view, position the mouse on Script View As -> ALTER To -> New Query Editor Window
  • Open a Query Editor and type code as we will see next

The basic formula to programmatically modify a view is:

ALTER VIEW ViewName
AS
SELECT Statement

You start the alteration with the ALTER VIEW expression followed by the name of the view. After the name of the view, use the AS keyword to specify that you are ready to show the change. After the AS keyword, you can then define the view as you see fit. For example, you can create a SELECT statement that includes a modification of the existing code or a completely new statement.

Here is an example:

ALTER VIEW FemaleStudents
AS
SELECT FirstName,
       LastName,
       DateOfBirth,
       Gender,
       ParentsNames
FROM Registration.Students;
GO

Deleting a View

Instead of modifying a view, if you find it altogether useless, you can remove it from its database. You must first consider who will have that responsibility. Obviously, users are never or hardly asked to remove a view.

A developer who has to delete a view must have the DELETE permission.

To delete a view:

  • In the Object Explorer, in a database, right-click the name of the view and click Delete. You would be given the opportunity to confirm your intention or to change your mind
  • In the Object Explorer, right-click the view, position the mouse on Script View As -> DROP To New Query Editor Window
  • Open an empty Query Editor associated with the database that has the undesired view
    • From the Template Explorer, in the View node, drag Drop View and drop it in the Query Editor
    • Use code as we will see next

The formula to programmatically delete a view is:

DROP VIEW ViewName

On the right side of the DROP VIEW expression, enter the name of the undesired view. Here is an example:

DROP VIEW FemaleStudents;
GO

Then execute the statement. You will not be warned before the interpreter deletes the view.

 
 
 

Views and Schemas

 

Introduction

When creating a view, you have the option of specifying its schema. In reality, like every object in the database, a view must be owned by a schema. You have many options. By default, when you create a view, if you don't specify a schema, it would be owne by dbo.

Instead of using dbo, you can use another schema of your choice and assign it to the view. If you had already created a schema in your database, you can use it or create a new schema.

To visually assign a schem to a view:

  • If you are creating a new view, start the view as you would normally and select the necessary table(s)
  • If the view exists already, in the Object Explorer, right-click it and click Design

 In the Properties window, click Schema, then click the arrow of its combo box and select from the list. If you are creating a view with code, precede the name of the view with the name of the schema.

Once/when a view belongs to a schema, in which case the view is not using the default dbo schema, the developer must have the ALTER permission on that schema. As mentioned for tables, you should know how to plan the permissions among schemas and views, namely what rights to grant, which ones to deny, and when to revoke a permission.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Assigning a View to a Schema

  1. In the Object Explorer, under Views of the BethesdaCarRental1 database, right-click dbo.AvailableCars and click Design
  2. If the Properties window is not visible, on the main menu, click View -> Properties window.
    In the Properties window, click Schema. Then click the arrow of its combo box and select Management

    Assigning a View to a Schema

    Assigning a View to a Schema

  3. Read the message box that appears and click Yes

    Assigning a View to a Schema

  4. To see the result of the view, on the main menu, click Query Designer -> Execute SQL
  5. On the Standard toolbar, click the Save button Save
  6. Close the view
  7. Click inside the Query Editor and press Ctrl + A
  8. To create a view, type the following code:
    CREATE VIEW BusinessProcesses.OrderProcessingStart
    AS
        SELECT RentStartProcessedBy, 
    	   AccountNumber,
    	   TagNumber, 
    	   CarCondition, 
    	   TankLevel, 
    	   MileageStart, 
    	   StartDate, 
    	   OrderStatus
        FROM BusinessProcesses.RentalOrders;
  9. To execute, right-click inside the Query Editor and click Execute

Binding a View to its Parent

When you have created a view, you know that the records it displays are tied to its parent table. Consider the following example:

CREATE DATABASE Exercise2;
GO
USE Exercise2;
GO
CREATE SCHEMA Personnel;
GO
CREATE TABLE Personnel.Employees
(
	EmplNbr nchar(10),
	FirstName nvarchar(20),
	LastName nvarchar(20),
	Salary money,
	FullTime bit
);
GO
INSERT INTO Personnel.Employees
VALUES(N'524-880', N'Barbara', N'Grisby', 14.85, 1),
	  (N'688-364', N'Terrence', N'North', 22.05, NULL),
	  (N'461-852', N'Michael', N'Goldsmith', 22.14, 0),
	  (N'264-853', N'David', N'Ecker', 20.04, 1),
	  (N'207-025', N'Julie', N'Flanell', 36.55, 1),
      (N'684-946', N'Kevin', N'Rhems', 15.86, NULL);
GO
CREATE VIEW Personnel.Identifications
AS
SELECT EmplNbr, FirstName, LastName
FROM Personnel.Employees;
GO

SELECT * FROM Personnel.Employees;
GO
SELECT * FROM Personnel.Identifications;
GO

This would produce:

Binding a View to its Parent

For one reason or another, you may have to make modifications on the parent table. For example, you may want to change the data type and/or name of a column but without touching the view(s) that depend on that table. What would happen? Consider the following example that renames a column on a table:

sp_rename N'Personnel.Employees.EmplNbr', N'EmployeeNumber', N'COLUMN';
GO

This code would execute successfully and the column would be renamed:

Binding a View to its Parent

After renaming the column, you can use it in a SELECT statement of the table:

SELECT EmployeeNumber [Empl #],
       FirstName [First Name],
       LastName [Last name],
       Salary,
       FullTime [Full-Time?]
FROM Personnel.Employees;
GO

Binding a View to its Parent

Since the view would still be using the previous definition of the table, in this case the previous name of the column, if the user tries executing the view, the database engine would produce an error. Here is an example:

Binding a View to its Parent

The solution is to prevent any changes on a parent table if that change would affect the view(s) that depend on that table. To set this, if you are visually creating the view, in the Properties window, set the Bind to Schema field to Yes. It the view exists already, open it in Design and, in the Properties window, set the Bind to Schema field to Yes.

It you are creating the view with code, before the AS keyword, add the WITH SCHEMABINDING flag. The formula to follow is:

CREATE VIEW [SchemaName.]ViewName
WITH SCHEMABINDING
AS
SELECT Statement

Hee is an example:

CREATE VIEW Personnel.EmploymentStatus
WITH SCHEMABINDING
AS
    SELECT FirstName, LastName, FullTime
    FROM Personnel.Employees;
GO

You can then execute the view when necessary. Here is an example:

SELECT * FROM Personnel.EmploymentStatus;
GO

This would produce:

Binding a View to its Parent

Now, imagine you want to change something on the parent table. For this example, let's try to change the data type of the FullTime column:

ALTER TABLE Personnel.Employees
ALTER COLUMN FullTime int;
GO

If you make the modification visually using the View Designer, or if you try executing the code, when you execute it, you would receive an error. Here is an example:

Binding a View to its Parent

This means that the database engine will not allow you to change something on the table if that change will make the dependent view(s) to stop working. But, you can change anything on the parent table as long as no dependent view would be affected.

Data Entry Using a View

 

Introduction

As seen so far, a view is a selected list of records from a table. As you may suspect, the easiest view is probably one created from one table. Imagine you have a table of employees and you want to create a view that lists only their names. You may create a view as follows:

CREATE DATABASE Exercise;
GO
USE Exercise;
GO
CREATE SCHEMA Personnel;
GO
CREATE TABLE Personnel.Employees
(
	EmplNbr nchar(10),
	FirstName nvarchar(20),
	LastName nvarchar(20),
	Salary money,
	FullTime bit
);
GO

CREATE VIEW Personnel.Identifications
AS
    SELECT EmplNbr, FirstName, LastName
    FROM Personnel.Employees;
GO

On such a view that is based on one table, you can perform data entry, using the view, rather than the table.

Performing Data Entry

If you perform data entry using a view, the data you provide would be entered on the base table. This means that the table would be updated automatically. Based on this feature, you can create a view purposely intended to update a table so that, in the view, you would include only the columns that need to be updated.

As long as a view allows it, you can perform data entry visually or using code.

To visually add a record, in the Object Explorer of the SQL Server Management Studio, after expanding the Databases and the Views nodes, right-click the view and click Edit Top 200 Rows. Once the view is opened, you can create the records.

To create a record using a Data Definition Language (DDL) command, use the INSERT keyword. If the view already contains the necessary columns, add the VALUES keyword as in the following formula:

INSERT [INTO] ViewName VALUES(Column1, Column2, Column_n);

Alternatively, after the name of the table, put the list of columns in parentheses. In both cases, in the parentheses of VALUES, type the necessary values.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Performing Data Entry on a View

  1. In the Object Explorer, right-click BusinessProcesses.OrderProcessingStart and click Edit Top 200 Rows
  2. To create new records using a view, type the following values:
     
    Rent Start Processed By Account Number Tag Number Car Condition Tank Level Mileage Start Start Date Order Status
    20480 720480 DFP924 Excellent Empty 12728 12/10/2012 Car With Customer
    24793 270840 4AF9284 Good 1/2 Tank 24715 12/10/2012 Car With Customer
    38240 830483 BND927 Good Full 6064 12/10/2012 Car With Customer
  3. Close the view window
  4. Click inside the Query Editor and press Ctrl + A
  5. To create a few records, type the following code:
    INSERT INTO BusinessProcesses.OrderProcessingStart
    VALUES(N'73948', N'480308', N'2AT9274', N'Excellent',
           N'1/2 Tank', 8206, N'20121215', N'Car With Custoomer'),
          (N'73948', N'203841', N'8AE9294', N'Excellent',
           N'Full', 3659, N'20121215', N'Car With Custoomer');
    GO
  6. To execute, press F5

Outputting the Result

Based on our previous description, here is an example of creating a creating a record using a view with code:

INSERT INTO Personnel.StaffMembers
VALUES(N'29730', N'Philippe', N'Addy');
GO

Just as done with table, you can create many records with with one INSERT ... VALUES statement. Add each set of values in its own parentheses. Here are examples:

INSERT INTO Personnel.Identifications
VALUES(N'28084', N'Joan', N'Shepherd'),
      (N'79272', N'Joshua', N'Anderson'),
      (N'22803', N'Gregory', N'Swanson'),
      (N'83084', N'Josephine', N'Anderson');
GO

As done for a table, after creating one or more records, if you want to see the result, add an OUTPUT.INSERTED expression after the name of the view. If you want to show the names of columns, use the following formula:

INSERT INTO TableName
OUTPUT INSERTED.Columns
VALUES(Value_1, Value_2, Value_X)

If you want to show all columns, use the asterisk. Here is an example:

INSERT INTO Personnel.Identifications
OUTPUT INSERTED.*
VALUES(N'79272', N'James', N'Anders'),
      (N'27924', N'Gregory', N'Hope'),
      (N'39742', N'John', N'Anderson');
GO

This would produce:

Outputting the Result of Data Entry

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Outputting the Result of Data Entry

  1. In the Object Explorer, right-click BethesdaCarRental1 and click New Query
  2. To create new records using a view, type the following code:
    INSERT INTO Presentation.AvailableUnits
    OUTPUT INSERTED.*
    VALUES(113, 1, 1, 895.00, NULL),
          (215, 0, 1, 785.00, N'Available'),
          (314, 3, 1, 1225.00, N'Occupied');
    GO
  3. To execute, on the main menu, click Query -> Execute
     
    Outputting the Result
  4. Click inside the Query Editor and press Ctrl + A
  5. To see all records, type the following:
    SELECT * FROM BusinessProcesses.RentalOrders;
    GO
  6. To see the result, on the SQL Editor toolbar, click the Execute button Execute

A View With Alias Names

It is important to know that a view is more of a table type than any other object. This means that a view is not a function but it can use a function. The word argument here only means that some values can be passed to a view but these values can be specified only when creating the view. They are not real arguments.

When structuring a view, you can create placeholders for columns and pass them in the parentheses of the view. This would be done as follows:

CREATE VIEW CarIdentifier([Tag #], Manufacturer, [Type of Car], Available)
. . .

If you use this technique, the names passed in the parentheses of the view are the captions that would be displayed in place of the columns of the view. This technique allows you to specify the strings of your choice for the columns. If you want a column header to display the actual name of the column, write it the same. Otherwise, you can use any string you want for the column. If the name is in one word, you can just type it. If the name includes various words, include them between an opening square bracket "[" and a closing square bracket "]".

After listing the necessary strings as the captions of columns, in your SELECT statement of the view, you must use the exact same number of columns as the number of arguments of the view. In fact, each column of your SELECT statement should correspond to an argument of the same order.

Because, as we stated already, a view is not a function and the values passed to the view are not real arguments, when executing the view, don't specify the names of arguments. Simply create a SELECT statement and specify the name of the view as the source.

Practical LearningPractical Learning: Ending the Lesson

  1. Close the Query Editor
  2. When asked whether you want to save, click No
  3. Close Microsoft SQL Server
 
 
   
 

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