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Keywords: SQL, T-SQL, Oracle, DB2, SQL Server, MySQL
Title: SQL Success: Database Programming Proficiency
Author: Stephane Faroult
Publisher: Roughsea Ltd
Verdict: An excellent resource - highly recommended
Now, one of the key challenges in putting together a book like this is the fact that pretty much every relational database management system sports its own version of SQL - the core might stay the same across products, but there are quirks and exceptions aplenty. It's not so much the syntax, it's things like data types, how you specify constraints, how keys are handled and more. Somehow Stephane Faroult manages to negotiate all of that in the text without it being too obstructive or a big deal. For the record the book covers SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, PostgresSQL, DB2 and even SQLite.
No real background in SQL is assumed, so the opening chapters start from the basics of data definition to simple queries. Examples are always important and in this case all the examples are structured around building a database of movies and actors/directors. It's a good choice of example as it's something everyone can relate to (sorry, couldn't help the pun?), but it extends to some very complex and interesting queries. It's certainly a better approach than a lot of independent snippets of code or lots of small example databases.
From the basics the book rapidly extends to more complex queries, covers fuzzy searching (a much ignored topic in many SQL books), functions and triggers, procedural extensions to SQL, tuning queries and more. There's no faulting the range of material. But more than that there is the fact that the writing is clear and engaging. To be honest some SQL texts tend to be overly formalistic or a bit dry, but this is a book rooted in practical experience and that helps keep the material interesting throughout.
The book is entitled 'SQL Success', but it's also a success in its own terms. What makes this such a good read is that there's a constant theme at work. This isn't about teaching recipes or syntax, it's about helping the reader to think about data and how to work with it most effectively. SQL is a tool, and this is a book to help you get the most from that tool. I defy anyone but the absolute guru to get through this book and not pick up new skills and better ways of working with SQL. It is, in other words, very highly recommended.