Blog Posts Decision / Rules Management

Is SQL for Business or for IT?

Blog: Decision Management Community

Jack Jansonius shared the following article in which he argues that SQL combined with decision tables gives us a friendly 5GL language oriented to the business audience. Recently he provided a solution for our Oct-2016 Challenge “Flight Rebooking” that demonstrates his point. Below is his article:

SQL is is the most popular example of aa pure 4GL language focused on the WHAT contrary to 3GL languages focused on HOW.

Which brings up the question: is a 4GL, such as SQL a language for business or for IT?

My answer is simple:

– If you supplement SQL with 3GL programming constructs (like PL/SQL or Transact-SQL) it is a language for IT people

– If you supplement SQL with 5GL decision tables, it’s a language for the business.

But this distinction is there even if you use SQL as a pure query language (and thus 4GL):

– simple queries are easy to follow and create by business employees

– complicated queries can only be made by IT people.

The good news is that even complicated queries can be made much more straightforward when combined with decision tables!

Recently I came across the following evolution of programming languages:

3GL – 4GL – Lowcode – Nocode

But if Low/Nocode mainly plays a role in the area of sequential processes (or orchestration), in terms of business functionality you remain dependent on the obscure algorithms of a 3GL and/or machine learning code. Thus, you continue to mess with the infamous Business-IT alignment.

In this regard, Lowcode and Nocode is only complementary to 3GL and 4GL.

Lowcode/nocode is all about speeding up application building – the underlying database structure and/or language is hardly relevant there, if at all.

In my view, however, the evolution of programming languages should be:

3GL – 4GL – 5GL

where these 3 generations address different questions:

3GL: HOW – Procedural/Algorithmic and Data-Driven. Java, Python, etc.

4GL: WHAT – Declarative. Database query languages (SQL).

5GL: WHY – Declarative and Goal-Driven. DT (Decision Tables)

5GL is used for describing functionality (replacing 3GL and complementing – possibly already existing – 4GL databases) as well as the end-to-end application flow.

I believe 5GL will replace 4GL as 3GL once replaced 1GL/2GL (machine language/Assembler).

As an example, I provided my solution for the Oct-2016 Challenge “Rebooking Passengers from Cancelled Flights” that use SQL and decision tables. And I’d like to finish with the question: are there DMN-compliant tools that can provide solutions based on business rules in decision tables combined with a relational database of their choice?

Leave a Comment

Get the BPI Web Feed

Using the HTML code below, you can display this Business Process Incubator page content with the current filter and sorting inside your web site for FREE.

Copy/Paste this code in your website html code:

<iframe src="" frameborder="0" scrolling="auto" width="100%" height="700">

Customizing your BPI Web Feed

You can click on the Get the BPI Web Feed link on any of our page to create the best possible feed for your site. Here are a few tips to customize your BPI Web Feed.

Customizing the Content Filter
On any page, you can add filter criteria using the MORE FILTERS interface:

Customizing the Content Filter

Customizing the Content Sorting
Clicking on the sorting options will also change the way your BPI Web Feed will be ordered on your site:

Get the BPI Web Feed

Some integration examples