khorner writes "I joined a local XP User Group in May of this year. As the IT Manager of Application Development for a 90+ year old agricultural cooperative, I'm introducing the concepts of agile development and need the support. Right off the bat, we've acquired some review copies of books and I volunteered for the O'Reilly book: Learning SQL on SQL Server 2005. I have been working with various versions of Microsoft SQL Server since 1999, so I figured I could give it a go." Read the rest of Kevin's review.
Learning SQL on SQL Server 2005 covers many of the topics necessary to introduce relational databases to the beginner. It is based on the authors' university course curriculum and it is evident with the review questions including with each chapter.
The authors cover important topics at an adequate depth for its target audience; however the organization needs some work. The first six chapters flip-flop across what I consider to be logical boundaries in a discussion on database development: schema versus data. Tools are a platform dependent subject necessary to discuss implementation.
The database provided could use some refactoring to get to a more cohesive and production level design. Not to be nitpicking, but as an example, equivalent domain level attributes for example, student number, are represented across tables as different column names. This is the attention to detail that drives me nuts on the professional level.
Chapter 1 sets the tone by touching multiple concepts and incorporates a smothering of screenshots. Over the first 25 pages (half being images and query result tables) we load the demo database, modify it, select from it, and cover to the Management Studio's syntax color coding and customization. Quite a lot to start off with for a novice, all with the assumption MS SQL 2005 is installed and ready to go.
Chapter 2 jumps into simple data selection of a single table and briefly hits the new MS SQL 2005 concept of synonyms.
Chapter 3 tries to focus on the schema oriented topic of table creation but falls short when jumping over to data topics like INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE. There is good coverage of data types, but we don't cover any design concepts of why we create tables and considerations for doing so. To the authors' defense, they state this is not a book on theory, but I think some level of theory is an important aspect to learn SQL.
Chapter 4 introduces the data selection concept of table joins and to do so, introduces the schema concept of keys.
Chapter 5 provides good coverage on internal functions for strings and dates and sets the foundation for more advanced queries.
Chapter 6 takes the reader through a logical process of developing a complex query. This is a good example process of taking a simple query and developing it further to satisfy a business need. Unfortunately, we experience some more inconsistency when we develop a join query using the WHERE clause - an inefficient and undesirable method the authors' discussed in chapter 4. Again, we jump from data concepts to schemas when we hit views and temp tables.
Chapter 7 through 10 present set operations, sub queries, and aggregate functions in a progressively logical manner. It would have been nice to have this progression prior to Chapter 6 and incorporate the concepts in the query development.
Chapter 11 throws in a thin coat of an introduction to table indexes and constraints: the final jump across topics.
Overall, the book provides an introduction to SQL topics. In my opinion, the organization and inconsistencies take away from the value of the book as a whole. If SQL is your profession (or you want it to be), with a list price of $44.99, Celko's SQL for Smarties is the better investment.
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