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on 10 April 1998
Most people who are looking to learn SQL want explanations of SQL and examples. A nice plus is to have strategies for making your SQL run as efficiently as possible.
The problem with this book stems from the author's involvement with the group that sets standards for SQL. For example, after providing an example of SQL on page 259, the author states: "This is a legal expression in SQL-92, but isn't yet implemented in many products."
In other words, the example is permitted by the standards group, but you are not likely to be able to use it in Oracle, Sybase, Informix, SQL Server, etc. This type of teaching is quite common among people like the author who, as is noted on the back cover, has been a member of the ANSI X3H2 Database Standards Committee since 1987.
No doubt the book is theoretically correct. But is it practical?
When explaining the GROUP BY clause in SQL, the author gives example SQL that includes the line: GROUP BY partid. People who already know SQL will wonder about this example, because in the book's sample database partid's are unique -- it makes no sense to group them.
People who already know SQL will be lucky enough to realize that this is simply a bad example. But people who are trying to learn will scratch their heads and wonder what the real life purpose of the GROUP BY statement is -- it is not apparent from this example.
Sometimes a teacher who knows his subject very well is unable to explain it in a way that is helpful to beginners. Sometimes a teacher who is caught up in theoretical aspects of his subject is unable to explain it in a practical way. The author has both of these problems.
If you already have a good working knowledge of SQL, you might gain a few insights from this book. But the emphasis here is on the word "few." For example, the chapter on "Optimization and Performance Tips" probably should be retitled, "A Beginner's Guide to Putting an SQL Query Together." To give you an idea of how poor the advice is, the last section of this chapter on optimization and performance has a Bag of Tricks, and Trick #2 is: "Don't use more tables than you have to."
That's it -- that's the complete text of Trick #2! This has to qualify as one of the top ten least helpful SQL tips of the decade. If the author was teaching cooking, I wouldn't be surprised to see this tip: "When cooking food on the stove, don't burn anything."
So, if you are just learning SQL, you can certainly find a better offering than this one. Look for books that provide real life examples. Avoid books, like this one, that go off onto tangents about things that are permitted by the SQL-92 standard but have not been implemented yet in the database you will be using.
If you already know SQL and are looking for advanced tips and tuning ideas, look elsewhere. There are lots of good books brimming with ideas on these topics. This book just isn't one of them.
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on 30 January 1999
Given the usual high quality of books from WROX, I had high expectations for this one. When I first picked it up, I found its "syntax first" style to be difficult to understand. I plodded along grudgingly, hoping that the tone would lighten and the material would flow more smoothly. No luck. I found it easier and more effective to learn SQL from the code tidbits that other programming books provided. After I gained some experience elsewhere, I returned to this book hoping to get more out of it, but found that it had little more to offer. Another disappointing aspect was the scant coverage of today's more popular database systems and syntax appropriate for those systems, such as Oracle, SQL server, and Access. Though an appendix exists to help out on vendor-specific syntax issues, I found that the brief examples given were so simple as to be nearly worthless. In short, this book does have some decent content for beginners, but I found it unbelieveably hard to get at. Unless you're stranded on a desert island with this book, I recommend you look elsewhere for your SQL fix!
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on 11 September 1997
I have read several books on SQL and while they have been useful none of them have explaned SQL as simply and clearly as this one. Probably the best and most unique part of this book is the explanation of how SQL actually works. If you are comming from a programming background you are going to be in for some convusion. SQL is not a procedural programming language but a set based one. The book clarifies this difference and helps programmers get off on the right foot.

The book also covers the SQL language and syntax to a depth that is just right. SQL can be very complicated but only the experts will need to deal with those nitty gritty details that would only confuse most people (see Joe's book SQL For Smarties if you want the nitty gritty or are already an expert - or at least think you are!)..

If there is one shortcomming to this book it is that it lacks significant examples of SQL in actual use. Check for "cookbook" type SQL titles to compliment this book if you need such help.
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on 14 January 1999
I bought this book after reading several favorable recommendations. Unfortunately, they were all from people who had some prior knowledge of SQL and "assumed" that this book would be good for beginners, because it made complete sense to them when they read it.
Having no SQL knowledge whatsoever, I had a hard time trying to fish out little SQL code tidbits that I could run myself, and thereby learn by doing. This book really discourages that. (See the reader review from 1998-04-10.)
If you are new to SQL, try Teach Yourself SQL in 24 hours (don't let the title throw you) from Sam's Publishing, which I found to be much better suited for neophytes.
Also, the author is member of Ansi SQL standards committee, and it shows. He talks about esoteric SQL topics, i.e. comparing facets of SQL-92 to sQL-89, etc. Not only does this get in the way of the useful content, it is usually an irrelevant distraction that the reader could do without.
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on 25 March 1999
The publisher of this book calls its line of books "Programmer to Programmer." This book is a good introduction to SQL, written for programmers. There is a strong emphasis on theory: of databases, of SQL, and of how to use SQL. Theory is presented before syntax, which was very helpful for me. The book's emphasis on theory, and the fact that it was written for programmers, are what make this book unique.
At times the flow of topics is a little confusing, and the book often reads like it was proofread by someone not well-versed in American English. However, the overall presentation of SQL and database concepts far outweighs the book's sometimes mediocre readability.
I would not recommend this book to the non-programmer, but I highly recommend it to the intelligent programmer who wants to understand SQL and be a high-quality database programmer.
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on 15 March 1999
Myself and another person who bought this book as required by an online SQL class both agree that this is not a well-written book. On many occasions during the first few chapters (that's all I could take) I found myself thinking "where did that come from?". The book does not follow a logical progression nor does it explain itself well. Additionally, the quality and quantity of examples are lacking.
In fact, my lack of tolerance with this book caused me to drop the class. I have used other WROX publications ("Visual Basic 5", "Active Server Pages"), and have found them to be finely written books. WROX should really consider talking to the person who proofed this book and gave it the "Yes, that's what WROX wants to be its SQL book" stamp.
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on 10 December 1998
Celko has penned on OK guide for beginners. Unfortunately he uses an arcane "syntax" format to introduce the SQL syntax before using the much easier to understand examples in the actual language. Also, the book is supposed to cover SQL-92, but for complicated queries all of the examples use the older SQL-89 syntax. There are an unfortunate number of typos. I used the book as part of a class, which helped clarify what otherwise would have been some very confusing examples. Perhaps these have been corrected in later printings. Overall, it was a readable and understandable introduction to SQL. I haven't read any other introductory texts, so I can't compare.
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on 13 December 1997
I have used SQL for a couple years and thought I knew all I needed to know. This book shows you everything! You learn all aspects of SQL including designing and creating databases right down to finding out if your doing an inner or outer join. An excellent book I would recommend to anyone needing to learn SQL for any reason. You can learn as much or as little as you need. And the knowledge will stick with you. It does need a few more code examples but the logic is there explaining anything you need to understand. I started using the things I learned in this book immediately in my job. Great book!
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on 14 April 1999
This book reads like a compilation of notes and papers from some standards conference. The author comes off as very full of himself and doesn't need to be bothered by giving practical content to this theory.
Much of the useful information is hidden in the author's syntax notation.
This book is too confusing for a beginner and too shallow for a pro. There is nothing "Instant" about this book. I am very disappointed with this WROX publication
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on 20 June 1999
This must rank as one of the most no-nonsense computer books that I have ever read. The pace is fast and it covers all the essential SQL syntax and commands. The end of chapter exercises are well thought out and will test your understanding of the concepts and techniques covered in each chapter. If you want to learn SQL quickly over the weekend, look no further. BUY THIS BOOK NOW!
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