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What Is SQLite?

SQLite is a software library that provides a lightweight, embeddable database engine. It is a relational database management system (RDBMS) that emphasizes speed and necessitates minimal support from the host environment. 

By design, SQLite is not a standalone database but rather an embedded database. It allows users to have database functionality inside their codebase with no additional installation of an RDBMS. Thus, it offers simplicity and fewer administrative configurations than standalone or client-server databases. 

What Is SQLite Used For?

SQLite is an in-process database. It can be embedded into the application or server that uses it, thereby reducing database administration so that application developers and server administrators can focus on what they do best: developing applications and running servers. 

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How Does SQLite Work?

SQLite is a software library that allows you to store structured data, such as text or numbers, in a database file on your computer’s hard drive. Storing information in this way is called embedded database management. It does not require named users or specialized database administration arrangements. Together, all of this makes it easy to deploy SQLite in embedded systems and network servers. SQLite application supports multiple languages such as Java, PHP and Python.

For example, the standard Python3 installation comes with an sqlite3 module and is already integrated with the SQLite database. Therefore, if you want to use SQLite in a Python application, you can easily create a connection object representing the database. After the connection, you can execute any SQL statement. The following code creates a simple class database with a student table.

# Import sqlite3 and connect to a database.
import sqlite3
connection = sqlite3.connect(”school.db”)
cursor = connection.cursor()

# Creat a table in the database
cursor.execute(”CREATE TABLE students(name TEXT, course INTEGER, id INTEGER)”)

#Insert data into the table
cursor.execute(”INSERT INTO students VALUES (’Adam White’, 201, 1)”)
cursor.execute(”INSERT INTO students VALUES (’Ibrahim Joseph’, 202, 2)”)

# Print student names in the student table
rows = cursor.execute(”SELECT * FROM students”).fetchall()
print(rows)

Output: [(’Adam White’, 201, 1), (’Ibrahim Joseph’, 202, 2)]

The sqlite3 Python model allows you to make all standard create, read, update and delete (CRUD) statements. The student’s example shows how to create a table and insert and print out the values using a select statement. You can also carry out deletion statements with SQLite.

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Benefits of SQLite

As an embedded database, SQLite allows developers to store data without needing a separate database server. It is helpful for small data needs, such as mobile devices and other applications that require low-memory footprint systems. As the name would imply, SQLite offers developers a fast, reliable and lightweight solution for storing data locally on applications. SQLite provides a minimalistic interface to applications while still providing all the basic facilities of an RDBMS found in more extensive and complex database systems. 

SQLite also has a rich set of supporting extensions for additional functionalities. For example, SQLite does not directly have user-defined functions support, although you can write them in C or Python. The define extension provides user-defined functions support without writing a separate code in another language. 

 

What Are the Alternatives to SQLite? 

Several other databases provide many of the same features as SQLite. That said, we can’t directly compare SQLite with client-server databases like PostgreSQL and MySQL. However, lightweight databases can be best-fit alternatives like Couchbase Lite, LevelDB, ObjectBox and LiteDB. 

The advantages of using SQLite over its alternatives include SQLite’s stability and longevity. SQLite has been in use for over 20 years, during which time it’s seen constant improvement and usage. SQLite is best for embedded devices, low to medium-traffic websites and data analysis. On the other hand, SQLite is not suitable for long-running apps that can produce a lot of boilerplate code. In these instances, SQLite will be rendered inefficient and unmanageable.