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Posted Aug 1, 2008

Create Your First SQL Server Database in 3 Quick Steps

By Don Schlichting


The goal of this article is to create an Employees database in SQL Server and populate it with test data in three quick steps. No theory or lengthy technical explanations are given. Just concise instruction for those that want to quickly see what SQL Server is. If you are familiar with Access, MySQL, Oracle, or some other data store application, then this article can serve as the “Hello World” sample application for you. Two different methods can be used to manage SQL Server, the GUI (Graphical User Interface), and the command line. Both will be covered starting with the GUI version. This article assumes SQL is already installed.

GUI Step 1 - Create a Database

A “Database” in SQL Server is a container that holds a group of related objects. In addition to storing the actual data, a Database also stores the structure of how that data is saved (called a Table), and any related helper objects such a Queries (saved ways to look data up). To begin, we’ll create a Database using the graphical interface called the “SQL Server Management Studio”.

From the Windows Start Menu, select “Microsoft SQL Server”, and then “SQL Server Management Studio”. Once the Management Studio starts, right click the Databases folder and select new Database. Enter a name in the “Database name” text box. For this example, well use the name “Test”.

As you the type the database name in, the Logical Name for the file types Data and Log will automatically fill in as well. The “Data” file is where the actual data is saved on the hard drive. The “Log” file keeps track of any changes to that data. Click OK.

GUI Step 2 - Create a Table

Now that the Database is created, a structure to hold the actual data is needed. This structure is called a Table. Think of Tables as containing Columns and Rows, like a spreadsheet.

To create a Table, expand the Databases folder, and then expand the newly created “Test” database.

Right click “Tables” and select “New Table”. You will be prompted to fill in “Column Name” and “Data Type”. Fill in “EmpName” with a data type of “varchar(50)”. In the next row, enter a Column Name of Wage with a data type of “money”.

Unlike Excel or a spreadsheet, a column in a Database must know ahead of time what type of data it will be storing. A data type of VarChar(50) tells SQL Server to expect character data (text), of a variable size not to exceed 50 characters. While you can enter numbers into a VarChar field, they could not be added nor have math functions done against them. For math to be allowed on a column, it must be some type of numeric field, which is why a data type of “money” was used for the Wage column.

Save the Table by clicking the Save icon from the top menu bar; the icon is shown below.

It will prompt for table name, enter “Employees” and click OK.

GUI Step 3 - Enter and View Data

To enter data into the newly created Employees table, expand the Tables folder from the left menu as shown below.

The newly created Employees table will be listed. Right click it and select “Open Table”. A small grid will open. Enter a few data lines as shown below. Moving to a new line after entering data automatically saves.

Working with the Command Line

In three steps using the SQL Server Management Studio, we created a Database, a Table, and entered data. The same three steps are now shown below using the command line (Query Window). To open a Query Window, select “New Query” from the top left menu in the SQL Server Management Studio as shown below.

A dialog box will pop up asking what server to connect to. Enter your server name and then click connect. A drop down box above the new window determines which database you are working with. Leave the default of “master”. This is SQL Server’s main system database.

When working with a command or query window, the language used by SQL Server is TSQL.

TSQL Step 1 -Create Database

Create a new database called Test2 by entering the following TSQL then pressing the “Execute” button on the top menu.


The Messages window on the bottom of the screen should say, ”Command(s) completed successfully.”

TSQL Step 2 -Use new Database

Delete that line of TSQL and enter: USE Test2; . Again press execute. This tells the Query window to run any future commands against they newly created Test2 database rather than against master.

TSQL Step 3 -Create new Table

Next, we’ll create an Employees table to hold data. Delete any TSQL in the Query window and execute the following:

 EmpName varchar(50),
 Wage money

TSQL Step 4 -Enter Data

Execute the following statement to enter data into the newly created table.

 (EmpName, Wage)
 ('Tom', 10.5);

 (EmpName, Wage)
 ('Jane', 11);

 (EmpName, Wage)
 ('Mike', 50);

TSQL Step 5 – View Data

The final step is to view the data just entered. Remove the previos INSERT statements and exeucte the following TSQL.

FROM Employees;

As shown below, all the newly added records will be displayed.


In this article we used both the Grafical User Interface and TSQL command to create a new Database and a new Table. Values were inserted into the new table and then retreived. If your SQL Server was installed using defaults, then our examples just created are stored on your harddrive under c:\program files\ Microsoft SQL Server \ MSSQL \ Data. There should be a Test. mdf (the actual data), and Test.ldf (a transaction log of the changes we made to test). These files are binary specific to SQL Server and cannot be used by Notepad, Word, Excel, or someother appliction.

» See All Articles by Columnist Don Schlichting

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