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How To Determine The Best Query Language For Your Software

Software Testing | By Amanda Sturdevant | March 13, 2019

How To Determine The Best Query Language For Your Software

Query languages (QLs) are designed to query data sources for fetching and performing various operations on stored data. Basically, a query is a request for information from a database, and the language is the way it is.
Nowadays, there is a dramatic shift toward open source QLs as they enable more enhancements and reusability. GraphQL, for example, was developed by Facebook back in 2012 and is now an open-sourced QL.

With the multitude of options, how can software companies identify the query language best suited for their software?

Examples of open-sourced QLs include XPath for selecting nodes from an XML document, Google, and Bing. Every QL supports basic operations like Boolean logic, comparisons, wildcard matching, and function calls. It differs only on the types of data sources and their representation.

Instead of reusing open-sourced languages, some organizations are now creating their own query language-such as EQL or Event Query Language. Where other query languages rely on a data source, EQL works independent of any data sources or schema. The flexible schema mappings allows you to abstract data sources without normalizing the data. You will also be able to make use of sorting, filtering, and stacking for customized post-processing functionalities. You can precisely describe activity and behavior beyond simple IOCs, which optimizes your regular IOC searching.

There are certain parameters that you will need to keep in mind as you determine which query language is best suited for your software. You will need to consider:

Your Purpose and Target Audience

While narrowing down your desired QL, make sure to keep your end users in mind as they are the ones who will ultimately use your software. If your end users do not have a technical background, like the average business user, go for a natural language. In such cases, the user would enter their request in any spoken language, allowing non-technical users to easily retrieve information from the database. Companies like IBM, Facebook, and Amazon are one of the many companies working on implementing natural language processing APIs.

Schema Mappings and Databases/Storage Engine Configuration

Schema is mainly a contract between your client and the server that defines how a client can access or query the server data. Data sources contain information in the form of key-values, documents, graphs, and wide columns. Whether you would require a QL that is backed by existing code and data or a specific database or storage engine is dependent on your type of business. Redis, for example, is used to fetch data stored for caching, message brokers, chat servers, session management, queues, and real-time analytics. MongoDB is used for content management. Path finding problems, recommendation systems, social networks and network management use graph-based approaches.

Compatibility with Your Front-End Applications

If you use API query languages, you will need to adjust the back-end of your application in order to accommodate new data whenever you make a change is to the front-end. Because of this, it is preferable to choose a QL that has little dependency between the front-end and back-end. The flexible nature of the QL will reduce the extra work on the server side, which will increase the capability to accommodate users' feedback with minimal changes.

Your Software Designers and Developers’ Perspective

You should take the technical capabilities of your team into consideration. It is good to choose a query language that has a very user-friendly syntax and is compatible with the technical skills of your software designers and developers. Should you decide to use a QL that your team is unfamiliar with, you may have to invest in training for that particular language.

Established Communities for the Query Language

If you prefer an open-sourced QL, then choose a language that has well-established communities. With well-established communities, your team has somewhere to reach out to for regular enhancements, updates, troubleshooting, and solutions.

If you do a quick web search, and you will find a list of the many different types of query languages, including those that are listed in this post. There is no single programming language that can help you accomplish every task and objective. You will need to check the parameters mentioned in this post, and then pick the one that is best suited for the needs of your software.

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