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JSON vs. SQL: What’s the Difference?

Comparison between JSON and SQL

by Pranisha Rai
JSON and SQL Distinctions
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SQL and JSON are both used to store and manipulate data, but these languages are used for different purposes. JSON is popular among developers for its lightweight nature and for transmitting data between systems. Whereas SQL is used for interacting with the relational database, it supports relational operations, CURD operations, and data integrity constraints. In this article, we will explore the difference between JSON and SQL databases.

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JSON vs. SQL: An Overview

SQL, a popular relational database, stands for Structured Query Language. It stores, retrieves, and manages data in the table. Simply put, it is a programming language that enables software developers to communicate, manipulate, and manage databases. SQL uses various commands and instructs the database to perform in a particular way. Therefore, it is an integral part of every organization, as it allows them to filter and access their database in some way. Many professionals, like IT professionals such as data analysts, database administrators, SQL developers, and data scientists, use SQL. 

JSON is a superset of JavaScript that is widely popular for its simplicity, flexibility, and human-readable format. It is one of the most popular choices among developers. JSON is a lightweight data interchange format used to transmit data between a server and a web application. It is also a perfect alternative to XML. 

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How to Communicate with Databases Using SQL?

This is done by using commands. SQL commands are the instructions used to communicate with the database to perform specific tasks. The following are the common types of commands: 

  • Update: This command is used to modify the existing data in a database table. Using this, you can change the values based on specified conditions. 

UPDATE table_name 
SET column1 = value1, column2 = value2 
WHERE condition; 

  • Insert: To insert any new data into a database table, developers can specify the values to be inserted for each column. 

INSERT INTO table_name (column1, column2) 
VALUES (value1, value2); 

  • Select: This retrieves data from a database by specifying the columns and tables from which you want to retrieve data. Developers can also apply conditions to store and customize the result set according to their requirements. 

SELECT column1, column2 
FROM table_name; 

  • Create: This is used to create a new database table or view. Developers can define the structure, columns, data types, and constraints of the object accordingly. 

CREATE TABLE table_name ( 
column1 datatype, 
column2 datatype, 

  • Truncate: It deletes all data from a table while keeping its structure unchanged.  

TRUNCATE TABLE table_name; 

  • Group By: It is used to group rows based on one or more columns. Mostly, this command is used along with aggregate functions to carry out calculations on groups of data. 

SELECT column1, COUNT(column2) 
FROM table_name 
GROUP BY column1; 

  • WHERE: It is used to filter data based on specific conditions. Developers can specify criteria to selectively retrieve rows that meet the given conditions. 

SELECT column1, column2 
FROM table_name 
WHERE condition; 

  • DROP: It permanently deletes a database object. 

DROP TABLE table_name; 

These are the common commands, also known as SQL queries, to manipulate and manage data in a database.  

Also Read: WHAT IS JSON?
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What Query Language does JSON Use to Parse Data?

JSON uses JSONPath and JMESPath for query languages. JSONPath is a query language that can help you parse data and is similar to query languages like SQL.

Let’s say we have a table of data. We can use a query to extract fields like the color and price of a bus using this query .bus. The dot notation in the query helps you select a field. And if you want to select a specific field, we can use .bus.color. 


“Automobile” : { 

“bus”: { 

“color”: “blue”, 

“price”: “$20000” 



In the above code example, the bus is encapsulated within a dictionary named automobile. Therefore, the automobile becomes the parent dictionary, the bus is a child dictionary, and then color and price are properties of the current path. To denote a root element, we use $; this way, we can form the JSONPath query in the right way.

Likewise, we use $[0] to get the first element in the list. And a question mark (?) to specify a criteria. And last, to replace any item, we need to use the @ symbol. 

JAMESPath: It is an intuitive way of writing a query. With a few lines of code, you can extract the elements from a JSON document. Let’s look at some expressions used to retrieve and filter and retrieve multiple values and make a new JSON. 

  • By using the . operator field.sub_field we use to specify a key. 
  • This [*] is used to extract all elements in an array 
    [field[index], field[another_index]] to extract specific indices of an array 
  • Index, it selects the value at the specified index in a JSON array. 

Although JSON is primarily used to interchange and transmit data, it doesn’t have in-built query capabilities like SQL. This is where JSONPath and JAMESPath enable you to retrieve data from the RESTful API and extract specific data from a JSON document. By using this query language, it can improve functionality as well as promote flexibility.  

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JSON vs. SQL: Benefits

Let’s compare JSON benefits and SQL with these solid reasons:

SQL benefits
  • SQL Ensures Job: SQL is one of the oldest query languages, dating back to the 1960s. Despite being the oldest language, it is still widely used for building modern-day databases. Although it has undergone notable changes in its structure over the years, its core principles remain unchanged and consistent. Having expertise in SQL may land you a job in the IT field. Both IT positions and businesses prefer applicants with extensive database experience. If you’re good with SQL and other programming languages such as Python, Java, or C++, you can be the best candidate.  
  • Improves Team Communication: SQL mastery can help both technically sound professional and non-technical personnel to interact without any SQL barrier. If marketing teams are well-versed in using SQL, then they can convey their database requirements to a database administrator (DBA) easily. This way, DBA staff don’t have to spend hours analyzing the data. At the same time, this will not only prevent misunderstandings in teams but also enable the completion of tasks quickly. 
  • Streamline Analysis Skills: Having expertise in SQL can effectively analyze and retrieve valuable insights, summarize the process, and then generate reports. By accessing the information quickly, you can make more informed decisions within your organization. Professionals like data analysts and business intelligence analysts use data-driven insights to make informed choices. 
  • Improved Problem-Solving Skills: Learning SQL can enhance your logical and strategic skills. When you query and manipulate data, you’re handling complex database-related tasks that let you break down problems into smaller, manageable components and find efficient solutions. This problem-solving skill is valuable and makes you a more versatile and adaptable professional.

The following are the benefits of using JSON

JSON benefits
  • Easier API Integration: The JSON server allows front-end developers to quickly create functional API prototypes. It also allows them to simulate different error cases during the testing phase. In addition, they can also use the JavaScript libraries Axios and Fetch to make API requests and handle JSON responses.
  • Easier Maintenance: When using JSON data, developers don’t have to do hard-core coding for setting configurations. Simply store it in a JSON file; that’s it, and then it will load the setting dynamically. This way, developers can easily customize the application and maintain it. 
  • Lightweight and Flexible Solution: When it comes to exchanging and storing data, JSON is one of the best choices. It provides a solution for transmitting data between microservices, saving location events, or changing user preferences.
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SQL vs. JSON: Key Difference

Factors SQL JSON
Objectives It is used to manage structured data in a database. Whereas it is used to facilitate data interchange between web servers and clients for both structured and unstructured data by using key-value pairs, nested objects, and arrays.
Queries/Syntax SQL uses commands like SELECT, UPDATE, TURNACATE, ALTER, and WHERE to retrieve data from a database. JSON uses key-value pairs, arrays, and nested objects.
Query Language It is a query language used to manipulate data in rows and tables. It uses JSONPath and JMESPath.
Relational/Semi-Structured Data It is a relational database where relationships between the entities are defined by using one-to-many, many-to-many, and many-to-one. It is used to represent semi-structured data and doesn’t follow a rigid structure like SQL.
Data Integrity It supports unique constraints, primary keys, and foreign keys to ensure data integrity and consistency. It doesn’t enforce data integrity like SQL, but it uses validation in the application when working with JSON data.
Data Modelling SQL uses schema design; this defines the relationship, so any changes require altering the whole database structure. JSON can have different structures in the same collection of data sets; this enables agile data modeling and changes in data structure over time.
Use cases It is used for data warehouses, analytics, and transactional systems. It is used to represent complex hierarchical structures, web development and configuration files, and APIs.

SQL Jobs Roles

  • SQL Programmers: The main role and responsibilities of the SQL programmers are to create databases using SQL. They need to collaborate with other teams to understand end-user requirements. The salary of an SQL programmer is between $90,674 and $1,66,314. 
  • Quality Assurance Engineer: Their role is to check the data from the database and see whether a software system, program, or online application fits perfectly with the given requirements. Also, ensure that the program achieves the desired outcomes. The annual salary for QA in the United States can reach $87,443. 
  • Data Analyst: This job role requires you to collect data, refine it, and process information to make better business choices. Data analysts use this SQL to access, read, and analyze data contained in an organization’s database. The salary of the data analyst is $75,410 per year. 
  • Business intelligence (BI) Analysts: Their roles and responsibilities are to extract and manipulate data from databases and then create reports, dashboards, and visualizations. These insights play a pivotal role in forming decisions within the organization to gain a competitive edge in the market. The annual salary of BI analysts in the United States can range up to $103,571. 
  • Database Administrator (DBA): This role involves maintaining and administering a database. Their responsibility is to ensure whether the company database is functioning correctly or not. DBA further guarantees the security of user data, and they ensure no unwanted access can harm this data. The annual salary of a DBA is $100,749.

Job Opportunities for JSON Experts

JSON is used in web development, RESTful APIs and other aspects of software engineering. Therefore, learning JSON may offer the following job roles: 

Job Role Salary
DevOps Engineer $1,26,841
Web Developer $187,000
API Developer $153,000
Integration Engineer $124,275
Full-stack Engineer $134,771


JSON is a versatile and popular data interchange format that plays a crucial role in modern web development. SQL, on the other hand, being one of the old query languages, continues to adapt and evolve in this rapidly changing landscape of the software world. With its robust query capabilities, SQL is one of the preferred languages for managing structured relational data and complex querying. While JSON is favored more for data exchange and storing data for both structured and semi-structured data, its hierarchical structure is perfect for microservice architecture and RESTful APIs. Overall, both play a pivotal role in changing the dynamics of software development. If you are a software engineer looking for top job opportunities then sign up with Olibr.

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An SQL online compiler is a web-based tool that allows users to write, execute, and test SQL queries in a browser without installing any database. 

Both languages can be used in web development. SQL is used for managing backend databases and handling structured data, while JSON is commonly used for transmitting data between the server and client in web APIs and AJAX requests. 

Yes, modern databases support storing and queuing, so you can use both SQL and JSON within the same application and convert between SQL and JSON formats as needed. 

You need to use the jq command to build a JSON file using the following code:

jq -n –arg name Joseph ‘{“Joseph” :$name}’ sample.json

Using sudo apt-get, you can install jqin Ubuntu.

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