Logica: Google’s New Language Wants to Make You Hate SQL

Based on job postings, it’s clear that employers are hungry for technologists who can work with databases. Data scientists, data analysts, and data engineers are all in high demand, as is knowledge of SQL (structured query language), which was originally created as the standardized language for relational database management. 

Given that focus on data, perhaps it’s no surprise that Google, no stranger to creating its own programming languages in-house, would produce a language designed to streamline data queries. Known as Logica, it’s the successor to Yegalog, another Google-developed programming language for querying databases. 

“Logica code compiles to SQL and runs on Google BigQuery (with experimental support for PostgreSQL and SQLite), but it is much more concise and supports the clean and reusable abstraction mechanisms that SQL lacks,” reads Google’s official blog posting on the matter. “It supports modules and imports, it can be used from an interactive Python notebook and it even makes testing your queries natural and easy.”

That blog posting also takes the opportunity to swipe at SQL, specifically its more cumbersome aspects: “Constructing statements from long chains of English words (which are often capitalized to keep the old-fashioned COBOL spirit of the 70s alive!) can be very verbose—a single query spanning hundreds of lines is a routine occurrence. The main flaw of SQL, however, lies in its very limited support for abstraction.”

SQL has an “inherent resistance to decomposition of logic into bite-sized pieces,” it added, leading to “contrived, lengthy queries, the copy-pasted chunks of code and, eventually, unmaintainable, unstructured (note the irony) SQL codebases.”

Ouch. But will developers drop SQL and flee into the loving arms of Logica? That’s an open question, although developers interested in testing the language’s capabilities can swing by Google’s handy Logica tutorial page (which also features pretty extensive documentation about the language). 

Whether or not some Google developers think SQL is clunky, technologists who work with databases will continue to work with it for many years to come. If you’re interested in learning the intricacies of SQL, there are lots of opportunities for training and certifications. According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from around the country, SQL developers earn a median salary of $92,504, and the profession has a projected growth of 11.5 percent over the next decade. Database administrators, who work with the language quite a bit, make nearly as much ($89,561) with exactly the same projected growth in job postings.