Anita Kuno writes "On a Sunday, a fellow user-group member suggested I learn SQL. The next day, an opportunity to review Head First SQL arrived in my email.
Who was I to question? Prior to opening the couriered package, I had no knowledge of SQL, I knew databases were important, and I had seen the Head First website
once or twice. Now, I can design and create databases, use mySQL databases, and understand questions and accompanying code posted to forums. The credit goes to Head First SQL's style, which introduces
small bits of information, supported through multiple channels (such as photos with humorous dialogue, stick-men and stick-women, and input from critical
personalities whose photos and input pop up throughout the book) regular tests and exercises so the new bit of data can find a home and settle into
your memory. The regularly tested pieces of information are now in my brain so I don't have to look up
the basic stuff." Read below for the rest of Anita's review.
Head First SQL is about RDBMS (databases) specifically mySQL (version 5.0 or newer) and includes features of other databases. The book defines a database, demonstrates how to navigate an existing database, and teaches how to create simple and complex databases, as well as how to let a database grow from simple to complex.
Foundational understanding of database construction and navigation is the focus. The target audience is those brand-new to the topic as well as those with an acquaintance with the subject and the need for a greater conceptual understanding of databases.
It focuses on the basics of databases, so the main information should remain pertinent until RMDBS get re-conceived. I think revisions, such as the reprint due out in December, will add to the strength of the book as typos and coding errors will be addressed.
The title accurately describes the contents and the subtitle "A Brain-Friendly Guide" describes the goal of the approach. The only requirements for working with the material are: a computer or access to one, the ability to identify your operating system, familiarity with downloading from the internet (links and instructions are provided in the book and the program mySQL community release is free (download instructions are given for Mac and Windows users, I believe that instructions for Linux are not included with the assumption Linux users can access the mySQL community release page and download the program without a play-by-play)), and the courage to learn a command line window user interface if you don't already know this.
Head First SQL is most useful to those who, like myself, have heard passing references to databases and other than knowing they are important have no grasp of what it is, means, or can do. Also, this will be a helpful tool for those who have some of the verbiage, enough to pass at a cocktail party, but who would feel the cold chill of horror if expected to design, construct, and implement a database in conjunction with any of their paid responsibilities.
This is the first book that I have read on the subject of databases and the first computer book that I have been able to finish. So much of the educational information about program x, language y, or application z, depends on a working knowledge of the other two variables. This is a great book for beginners. It talks about data types, it explains null, and then has null explain himself. It tells me the importance of the semicolon at the end. All basic stuff. All stuff that other books take for granted. Many times when I believed I wasn't absorbing anything, along came questions I could answer, a crossword I could complete and match-column-A-with-column-B exercises that demonstrated that I was actually learning much more than than I was giving myself credit for.
It includes illustrations, photos, clean layout, and bite sized pieces of information. All this comes from the goal of allowing both sides of the brain access to the information. It's exactly the kind of approach that I need to reinforce the terms and concepts as well as provide encouraging feedback to keep me progressing through the material. I'm also grateful that it entertains me and keeps me going back to finish the whole thing long after the first blush of excitement has worn away.
Links, to the mySQL program necessary to work with the material, are included in the book as well as a few other links in the appendices. The Head First website is a must in order to link to the forums, newsletter, blog and downloadable files to create various tables used in the book. Head First came out with a web app called Hands On SQL which I would encourage you to try. It won't work with all of the book's material but it is a good-looking tool.
You are welcome to read my submissions on the Head First SQL forum. My user name is anita. Also, the reprint that I mentioned above is due to be in stock as of December 3rd. I'm told by O'Reilly that it includes corrections for errata submitted thus far. Take a look at the Head First SQL homepage to download a sample chapter.
You can purchase Head First SQL from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.