A database management system (DBMS) interface is a user interface that allows for the ability to input queries to a database without using the query language itself. User-friendly interfaces provided by DBMS may include the following:
These interfaces present the user with lists of options (called menus) that lead the user through the formation of a request. The basic advantage of using menus is that they remove the tension of remembering specific commands and syntax of any query language. The query is basically composed step by step by collecting or picking options from a menu that is shown by the system. Pull-down menus are a very popular technique in Web-based interfaces. They are also often used in browsing interfaces which allow a user to look through the contents of a database in an exploratory and unstructured manner.
A forms-based interface displays a form to each user. Users can fill out all of the form entries to insert new data, or they can fill out only certain entries, in which case the DBMS will redeem the same type of data for other remaining entries. These types of forms are usually designed or created and programmed for users that have no expertise in operating systems. Many DBMS’s have form specification languages which are special languages that help specify such forms.
Example: SQL Forms is a form-based language that specifies queries using a form designed in conjunction with the relational database schema.
Graphical User Interface
A GUI typically displays a schema to the user in diagrammatic form. The user then can specify a query by manipulating the diagram. In many cases, GUI utilise both menus and forms. Most GUI use a pointing device such as a mouse, to pick a certain part of the displayed schema diagram.
Natural Language Interfaces
These interfaces accept requests written in English or some other language and attempt to understand them. A Natural language interface has its own schema, which is similar to the database conceptual schema as well as a dictionary of important words.
The natural language interface refers to the words in its schema as well as to the set of standard words in a dictionary to interpret the request. If the interpretation is successful, the interface generates a high-level query corresponding to the natural language and submits it to the DBMS for processing, otherwise, a dialogue is started with the user to clarify any provided condition or request. The main disadvantage of this is that the capabilities of this type of interface are not that advance.
Speech Input and Output Interfaces
There is limited use of speech be it for a query or an answer to a question or being a result of a request it is becoming commonplace. Applications with limited vocabulary such as inquiries for telephone directory, flight arrival/departure, and bank account information are allowed speech for input and output to enable ordinary folks to access this information.
The Speech input is detected using predefined words and used to set up the parameters that are supplied to the queries. For output, a similar conversion from text or numbers into speech takes place.
Interface for Parametric Users
Interfaces for Parametric Users contain some commands that can be handled with a minimum of keystrokes. It is generally used in bank transactions for transferring money. These operations are performed repeatedly.
Interfaces for Database Administrators (DBA)
Most database system contains privileged commands that can be used only by the DBA’s staff. These include commands for creating accounts, setting system parameters, granting account authorization, changing a schema, and reorganizing the storage structures of databases.
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