Error Messages in Relational Database Systems
Reviewed by Eddie Antonio Santos / 2021-10-26
Keywords: Databases, Error Messages
When I was first introduced to SQL in my undergraduate database course, we were trained on an Oracle SQL instance. Taipalus2021 provides evidence that I may have been just a bit happier had we used PostgreSQL instead.
Taipalus2021 studied how choice of database management system (DBMS) affected the effectiveness and subjective experience of novices when correcting SQL syntax errors. Overall, novices reported that the error messages produced by PostgreSQL and Microsoft SQL Server were more useful than error messages from MySQL, meanwhile Oracle's error messages were usually deemed the least useful—perhaps because its messages generally do a poor job of indicating where an error occurs in a query. However the practical differences are slight: to put it in perspective, expect a 3/5 star rating for Oracle's error messages to a 4/5 rating for PostgreSQL and SQL Server.
In almost all cases, the choice of DBMS and their associated error messages had little effect on whether the novices could actually fix the error. So even if you choose PostgreSQL over MySQL for your next project, you'll still need to spend time training juniors how to write queries.
Taipalus2021 Toni Taipalus, Hilkka Grahn, and Hadi Ghanbari: "Error messages in relational database management systems: A comparison of effectiveness, usefulness, and user confidence". Journal of Systems and Software, 181, 2021, 10.1016/j.jss.2021.111034.