User-friendly interfaces provided by a DBMS may include the following:
Menu-based Interfaces for Web Clients or Browsing
These interfaces present the user with lists of options (called menus) that lead the user through the formulation of a request. Menus do away with the need to memorize the specific commands and syntax of a query language; rather, the query is composed step-by step by picking options from a menu that is displayed by the system. Pull-down menus are a very popular technique in Web-based user interfaces. They are also often used in browsing interfaces, which allow a user to look through the contents of a database in an exploratory and unstructured manner
Apps for Mobile Devices
These interfaces present mobile users with access to their data. For example, banking, reservations, and insurance companies, among many others, provide apps that allow users to access their data through a mobile phone or mobile device. The apps have built-in programmed interfaces that typically allow users to login using their account name and password; the apps then provide a limited menu of options for mobile access to the user data, as well as options such as paying bills (for banks) or making reservations (for reservation Web sites)
A forms-based interface displays a form to each user. Users can fill out all of the form entries to insert new data, or they can fill out only certain entries, in which case the DBMS will retrieve matching data for the remaining entries. Forms are usually designed and programmed for naive users as interfaces to canned transactions. Many DBMSs have forms specification languages, which are special languages that help programmers specify such forms. SQL*Forms is a form-based language that specifies queries using a form designed in conjunction with the relational database schema. Oracle Forms is a component of the Oracle product suite that provides an extensive set of features to design and build applications using forms. Some systems have utilities that define a form by letting the end user interactively construct a sample form on the screen
Graphical User Interfaces. A GUI typically displays a schema to the user in diagrammatic form. The user then can specify a query by manipulating the diagram. In many cases, GUIs utilize both menus and forms
Natural Language Interfaces
These interfaces accept requests written in English or some other language and attempt to understand them. A natural language interface usually has its own schema, which is similar to the database conceptual schema, as well as a dictionary of important words. The natural language interface refers to the words in its schema, as well as to the set of standard words in its dictionary, that are used to interpret the request. If the interpretation is successful, the interface generates a high-level query corresponding to the natural language request and submits it to the DBMS for processing; otherwise, a dialogue is started with the user to clarify the request
Keyword-based Database Search
These are somewhat similar to Web search engines, which accept strings of natural language (like English or Spanish) words and match them with documents at specific sites (for local search engines) or Web pages on the Web at large (for engines like Google or Ask). They use predefined indexes on words and use ranking functions to retrieve and present resulting documents in a decreasing degree of match. Such “free form” textual query interfaces are not yet common in structured relational databases, although a research area called keyword-based querying has emerged recently for relational databases.
Speech Input and Output.
Limited use of speech as an input query and speech as an answer to a question or result of a request is becoming commonplace. Applications with limited vocabularies, such as inquiries for telephone directory, flight arrival/departure, and credit card account information, are allowing speech for input and output to enable customers to access this information. The speech input is detected using a library of predefined words and used to set up the parameters that are supplied to the queries. For output, a similar conversion from text or numbers into speech takes place
Interfaces for Parametric Users
Parametric users, such as bank tellers, often have a small set of operations that they must perform repeatedly. For example, a teller is able to use single function keys to invoke routine and repetitive transactions such as account deposits or withdrawals, or balance inquiries. Systems analysts and programmers design and implement a special interface for each known class of naive users. Usually a small set of abbreviated commands is included, with the goal of minimizing the number of keystrokes required for each request
Interfaces for the DBA
Most database systems contain privileged commands that can be used only by the DBA staff. These include commands for creating accounts, setting system parameters, granting account authorization, changing a schema, and reorganizing the storage structures of a database.