Can you lock an entire table in SQL Server while two people are in it and then when one person is in it unlock that entire table?

If someone is editing data belonging to one table and another comes along and starts to edit other data belonging to that same table - what I would like to do is lock it read only for the second user - where he/she cannot change it - sort of what Excel does when two people open the same document - is that possible?    Then if the first user leaves - the locking is removed for the second user - where he/she can change it?

Sure there is a lot online for record-row level locking, column locking would slow performance and then you get into user-permisions.  But this is special to where you want the locking to occur only on the second user (or third, fourth) temporarily and return when there is one user only accessing the table.

Second question - should this not be done at database level but merely only software front-end?
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You can lock the entire table for update by using hints.  Something like this:

SELECT Col1, Col2 
   FROM YourTable
    WHERE Col3 in (1, 2, 3);

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QlemoBatchelor, Developer and EE Topic AdvisorCommented:
The above will prevent anybody else from reading the table, as the "Intended Update" lock will not allow reads with "Intended Update" locks; else the lost update issue would arise (reading a set of old data, while they are changed by someone else, and then wanting to update those old records). However, it works if you catch the error generated (lock timeout, or deadlock), and then do the same select without the locks. That, however, would require you check the table regularly for being able to lock it again.

A much better approach to lock a complete table is to maintain a control table. As soon as there is an entry for the table to view, you prohibit any update. The first "user" inserts the table with a flag, so you can identify he's the "owner", and able to update. This technique again requires checking, of the control table whenever an update is attempted.
stephenlecomptejrAuthor Commented:
"This technique again requires checking, of the control table whenever an update is attempted."

Is this done as a trigger in SQL server or done within the front-end software accessing sql server?
QlemoBatchelor, Developer and EE Topic AdvisorCommented:
Front-End - it is application logic.
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