Views in SQL Server

Views in SQL Server with Examples

In this article, I am going to discuss the Views in SQL Server with examples. Views are one of the most important concepts in SQL Server. If you want to become a SQL Server developer then you should know how to when to use the Views in SQL Server. In this article and in a few upcoming articles, we are going to cover most of the concepts of Views in SQL Server. 

What is a View in SQL Server?

The views in SQL Server are nothing more than a compiled SQL query. We can also consider the Views in SQL Server as virtual tables. So you can think a view in SQL Server either as a compiled SQL query or as a virtual table. As the view represents a virtual table, it does not physically store any data by default. But if you want then you can also change this default behavior that we will discuss in our Indexed Views in SQL Server article. So when we query a view in SQL Server, the view actually retrieves the data from the underlying database tables as shown in the below image.

Views in SQL Server

Simply we can say that the views in SQL Server act as an interface between the Table(s) and the user.

What are the differences between a table and a view in SQL Server?

When we compared a view with a table we have the following differences.

  1. Table is physical whereas view is logical
  2. A Table is an independent object whereas view is a dependent object that is a view depends on the table or tables from which it is loading the data.
  3. When a new table is created from an existing table the new and old tables are independent themselves that is the changes of one table will not be reflected into the other table whereas if a view is created based on a table any changes that are performed on the table reflects into the view and any changes performed on the view reflected in the table also.

We are going to use the following Department and Employee table to understand the Views in SQL Server.

Views in SQL Server

Please use below SQL Script to create and populate the Department and Employee table with some test data.

-- Create Department Table
CREATE TABLE Department
(
  ID INT PRIMARY KEY,
  Name VARCHAR(50)
)
GO

-- Populate the Department Table with test data
INSERT INTO Department VALUES(1, 'IT')
INSERT INTO Department VALUES(2, 'HR')
INSERT INTO Department VALUES(3, 'Sales')

-- Create Employee Table
CREATE TABLE Employee
(
  ID INT PRIMARY KEY,
  Name VARCHAR(50),
  Gender VARCHAR(50),
  DOB DATETIME,
  DeptID INT
)
GO

-- Populate the Employee Table with test data
INSERT INTO Employee VALUES(1, 'Pranaya', 'Male','1996-02-29 10:53:27.060', 1)
INSERT INTO Employee VALUES(2, 'Priyanka', 'Female','1995-05-25 10:53:27.060', 2)
INSERT INTO Employee VALUES(3, 'Anurag', 'Male','1995-04-19 10:53:27.060', 2)
INSERT INTO Employee VALUES(4, 'Preety', 'Female','1996-03-17 10:53:27.060', 3)
INSERT INTO Employee VALUES(5, 'Sambit', 'Male','1997-01-15 10:53:27.060', 1)
INSERT INTO Employee VALUES(6, 'Hina', 'Female','1995-07-12 10:53:27.060', 2)
GO

The syntax for creating a View in SQL Server: The View will be created by using the select statement as shown below.

SQL Server Views

How many types of views are there in SQL Server?

There are two types of views in SQL Server, they are

  1. Simple view or Updatable views
  2. Complex view or non-updatable views.
What is a simple view or Updatable view in SQL Server?

The view which is created based on the columns of a single table, then it is known as a simple view in SQL Server. We can perform all the DML operations on a simple view so that a simple view can also be called as updatable view or dynamic view.

-- View with all columns 
CREATE VIEW vwAllEmployees1 
AS 
SELECT * FROM Employee

-- View with specific columns
CREATE VIEW vwAllEmployees2 
AS 
SELECT ID, Name, Gender, DOB, DeptID 
FROM Employee

The above two views are examples of Simple or Updatable Views. That means we can perform all the DML operations on the above views. To select data from a view, we need to use the SELECT statement in the same way we used to select the data from a table.

SELECT * from vwAllEmployees1

DML Operations on the View:

Select Operation on View

SELECT * FROM vwAllEmployees1

When we execute the above query it will display the following results

SQL Server Views

Insert Operation on View

INSERT INTO vwAllEmployees1 (ID, Name, Gender, DOB, DeptID)

VALUES(7, ‘Rohit’, ‘Male’, ‘1995-04-19 10:53:27.060’, 3)

When we execute the above insert statement, it will successfully insert the record into the Employee table. To check issue a select query against the Employee table as shown below

SELECT * FROM Employee

It will give the result

SQL Server Views

As you can see the new records is inserted into the Employee table.

Update Operation on Views in SQL Server:

Let’s try to update the details of the employee whose id is 7 using the view.

UPDATE	vwAllEmployees1 SET
  Name = 'Rohit Kumar',
  DOB = '1996-02-29 10:53:27.060',
  DeptID = 1
WHERE	ID = 7

Once you execute the above SQL Query, to check whether the data is updated successfully or not make a select query against the Employee table as shown below.

SELECT * FROM Employee

It will retrieve the following data.

SQL Server Views

As you can see the Employee whose ID is 7 is successfully updated as expected.

Delete Operation on View in SQL Server:

Let’s try to Delete the Employee whose ID is 7 using the view

DELETE FROM vwAllEmployees1 where ID = 7

Once we execute the above delete operation then check the Employee table and you will see that the Employee whose ID is 7 is deleted as expected from the Employee table.

So this proofs that we can perform the ALL the DML operations on a Simple View which is also called as Updatable View in SQL Server.

What is a complex view in SQL Server?

When we create a view on more than 1 table then it is known as complex view and on a complex view, we cannot perform DML operations so that a complex view is also called as the non-updatable or static view.

Example:

CREATE VIEW vwAllEmployees3
AS 
SELECT	emp.ID, emp.Name, emp.Gender, emp.DOB, 
  dep.Name as DepartmentName
FROM Employee emp
INNER JOIN Department dep
on emp.DeptID = dep.ID

NOTE: A view which is created based on a single table will also be considered as a complex view provided if the query contains any of the following.

Distinct. Aggregate Function, Group By Clause, having Clause, calculated columns and set operations.

CREATE VIEW vwAllEmployees4
AS 
SELECT	Gender, Count(*) as TotalEmployee
FROM Employee Group BY Gender
Can we drop a table that has dependent views on it?

Yes, you can drop a table even if any dependent views are associated with it, but the views that are associated with it will not be dropped. They will still execute in the database only with the status as inactive object and all those views become active and start functioning provided the table is recreated.

Can we create a view based on other views in SQL Server?

Yes, we can create a view based on other views. Usually, we create views based on tables, but it is also possible to create views based on views.

Can we update the views in SQL Server?

Yes, views can be updated. However, updating a view that is based on multiple tables, may not update the underlying tables correctly. To correctly update a view that is based on multiple tables we can make use INSTEAD OF triggers in SQL Server.

In the next article, I am going to discuss why we need Views with examples.

SUMMARY

In this article, I try to explain the Views in SQL Server step by step with some examples. I hope this article will help you with your need. I would like to have your feedback. Please post your feedback, question, or comments about this article.

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