I am reading through the SQL Server 2008 bible and I am covering the views section. But the author really doesn't explain the purpose of views. What is a good use for views? Should I use them in my website and what are the benefits of them?
Another use that none of the previous answers seem to have mentioned is easier deployment of table structure changes.
Say, you wish to retire a table (T_OLD) containing data for active users, and instead use a new table with similar data (named T_NEW) but one that has data for both active and inactive users, with one extra column "active".
If your system(s) have gazillion queries that do
SELECT whatever FROM T_OLD WHERE whatever, you have two choices for the roll-out:
1) Cold Turkey - Change the DB, and at the same time, change, test and release numerous pieces of code which contained said query. VERY hard to do (or even coordinate), very risky. Bad.
2) Gradual - change the DB by creating T_NEW, dropping T_OLD and instead creating a VIEW called T_OLD that mimics the T_OLD table 100% (e.g the view query is
SELECT all_fields_except_active FROM T_NEW WHERE active=1).
That would allow you to avoid releasing ANY code that currently selects from T_OLD, and do the changes to migrate code from T_OLD to T_NEW at leisure.
This is a simple example, there are others a lot more involved.
P.S. On the other hand, you probably should have had a stored procedure API instead of direct queries from T_OLD, but that's not always the case.