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Programming the Perl DBI: Database programming with Perl Paperback – 14 Feb 2000


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Product details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (14 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565926994
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565926998
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.2 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

The interestingly named Alligator is a database programmer and Perl module developer. Tim Bunce wrote DBI--the Perl DataBase Interface. DBI is a series of Perl modules providing a standard API to a variety of database engines. Perl DBI is a natural choice for dynamically generating Web pages from databases. DBI's greatest strengths are portable code and the concealment of proprietary database interfaces.

The first half of Programming The Perl DBI covers non-DBI database types, pros and cons and data handling. Perl is used to create, explain and work with these. It's assumed that the reader is a competent enough Perl programmer to write the scripts as well as follow them. The point is to familiarise you with database technologies.

Having dealt with SQL and other database related issues in chapter three, the authors introduce the DBI, demonstrate database connection and error handling in chapter four. The last four chapters cover database interaction, advanced DBI features, ODBC and finally shell and database proxying. Three appendices cover the DBI specification, driver and database characteristics and the ASLaN Sacred Site Charter. (The authors are megalithic site aficionados and use UK megalithic sites as database examples throughout the book).

Descartes and Bunce's book is a rare combination--an entertaining and accessible guide to using Perl DBI that's also a readable and often amusing introduction to database technology.--Steve Patient

Review

This book is a must-have for the corporate systems administrator who need to coordinate projects that require multiple teams of programmers. -- Jon Holman, Unix Review, Dec 2001

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a good book, IF:
- You want the online documentation with some extra fluff on databases, extra examples and the DBI spec. in one handy place (pages 187 - 333 are pretty much available online, the rest of the book is the online material filled out).
- You are interested in learning about the DBI, the book is about the DBI rather than database programming.
This is not a good book, IF:
- You want to learn how to program databases from the web (the widest application of Perl today is covered on one example/page and is an absolute joke).
- You want to learn how to program databases other than Oracle (the massive Windows market, and other markets are left to you, the reader, to extrapolate techniques from the book to practice).
This is a terrible book, IF:
- You are a Perl/programming beginner.
- You want to learn about databases.
- You want to troubleshoot your application (to not include much more driver specific material, when the DBI relies so heavily on the database's driver, means that essentially the book's use is very limited in the real world).
The DBI is a great tool in the Perl armoury; this book does not do it justice. You will learn more from the online documentation and the DBI mailing list than you could ever get from here - save your money (The forthcoming 'Web Databases with Perl' from Manning looks far more promising, but it's not out until Oct 2000).
Of course, if the book is supposed to be nothing more than a guide to the DBI in the very limited scope of being a recycle and slight expansion of existing material, then you can't fault it, and it is a nice read, but otherwise... O'reilly what were you thinking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Precious TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book doesn't really cover much about Perl and the DBI module that you couldn't find with a quick trawl through Google, but it is handy to have all the material you need together to hand. If you're the kind of person who likes to be able to just pick up a book to find what you need to know, it's well worth buying - it's an authoritative source of information and will get you writing decent Perl + DBI scripts to interact with a database in no time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Bull on 24 July 2004
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book because I had a perl/sybase project. My opinion is that this is very limited book. Most people will only use Ch5 "Interacting with the database" - 25 pages. These important 25 pages lack organisation and logical structure. The book covers the perl DBI, by that I assumed everything to make a database work with perl - wrong! It covers exactly and only the DBI. Example: If you've been working with databases for more than a week you will want to know how to detect and respond to deadlocks. The word isn't even in the book. I should point out, you can handle deadlocks but that's in the DBI driver for your database and so it's not covered. The first week I used this book I liked it, I was copying chunks of source code and pasting it right into my application, by the second week I was searching the web.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Jun. 2000
Format: Paperback
As someone who knows a little bit about Perl and a reasonable amount about databases, I found this book did just what it said: taught me how to access databases from Perl. An hour or so's reading and a bit of messing about and I had the application I needed written in a couple of days.
It can, admittedly, seem like quite bad value for money: you'll probably only need to read two or three chapters of the book unless you're using more than one RDBM or don't know a lot about databases, and you probably won't need to refer back to it that much, but I find it hard to see what else they could have done.
I would also disagree that the book is only useful for Oracle. I use M$ SQL Server on Windows NT and had no problems finding the information I needed: indeed, there's a whole chapter covering ODBC with particular reference to the Windows platform.
A well-written, concise book that tells you what you need to know, but is probably best borrowed rather than bought (sorry O'Reilly!)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 52 reviews
43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
A book about the DBI, not programming databases from Perl. 7 Jun. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a good book, IF:
- You want the online documentation with some extra fluff on databases, extra examples and the DBI spec. in one handy place (pages 187 - 333 are pretty much available online, the rest of the book is the online material filled out).
- You are interested in learning about the DBI, the book is about the DBI rather than database programming.
This is not a good book, IF:
- You want to learn how to program databases from the web (the widest application of Perl today is covered on one example/page and is an absolute joke).
- You want to learn how to program databases other than Oracle (the massive Windows market, and other markets are left to you, the reader, to extrapolate techniques from the book to practice).

This is a terrible book, IF:
- You are a Perl/programming beginner.
- You want to learn about databases.
- You want to troubleshoot your application (to not include much more driver specific material, when the DBI relies so heavily on the database's driver, means that essentially the book's use is very limited in the real world).
The DBI is a great tool in the Perl armoury; this book does not do it justice. You will learn more from the online documentation, DBI mailing list and the very generous Perl community than you could ever get from here - save your money (The forthcoming 'Web Databases with Perl' from Manning looks far more promising, but it's not out until Oct 2000).
Of course, if the book is supposed to be nothing more than a guide to the DBI in the very limited scope of being a recycle and slight expansion of existing material, then you can't fault it, and it is a nice read. A lot of the reviews for the book reflect this sentiment. However, if you are after more, you will end up questioning what O'Reilly were thinking. On these grounds three stars is generous.
55 of 62 people found the following review helpful
I expected more. 21 Feb. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am by no means a DBI master . . . but, I still expected more from this book. To be fair, I did get some "finer points" clarified for me, and saw some features of DBI I hadn't used before that I will try in the future. However, I didn't get enough out of it to have it be worth the price tag. Try this book only if you can't deal with the pod documentation that comes with the DBI module. (Or borrow it from a friend!)
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
A must for using Perl and DBI! 28 Feb. 2000
By Cat LeDevic - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The only moan I have is that it didn't come out earlier.
The shop where I work asked me to cost a project using Perl as the back end for a T1 sales feed into an Oracle DB. They wanted to know if they could buy a package to do this. After a little research, I fell over the DBI. They were amazed at the "cost", and delighted with the speed.
I finally got the book about a week ago. Lo and behold, it also covered flat files. A large part of this shop's income comes from a custom doc library, flat files exported from many different DBs. So not only did the book aid with optimising the script I'd already written for the Oracle interface, but it's going to make all our lives easier for the next release of their commercial app.
The book is extremely well-written. (In a past life, I was a tech writer. Nothing worse than a badly written techie book.)
The flow is well thought out. Not being a DB meister, the first few chapters were extremely helpful. In my case (and I'm sure, many others as well), I had to get up on DBs in a large hurry. With the Cheetah book, I was able to do so.
The examples given are concise, easy to follow, and they _work_. The latter point is invaluable.
I would recommend this book to anyone who uses Perl and the DBI.
42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
A must for anyone serious about Perl DBI development 24 Feb. 2000
By Thomas A. Lowery - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Programming the Perl DBI continues the long O'Reilly standard of providing accurate technical information for a reasonable price. If you develop or use Perl DBI, BUY THIS BOOK!
Chapter 2:Humble beginning to start a Perl DBI book with how to use other types of data storage and retrieval features. I found this very enlightening as a solution to persistent data challenges not requiring a full database system.
Chapter 3: A basic intro to SQL. Simple and to the point.
Chapter 4-6 Describes development using Perl DBI. The information is excellent, as DBI is only an interface to the database systems. These chapters describe how to use the interface, the standard features supported, and expected results. Do you want to learn about reading BLOBs or binding output columns? Need to use bound input parameters? The information is all contained in these chapters.
Chapter 7: I enjoyed the quick comparison between DBI (DBD::ODBC) and Win32::ODBC.
Chapter 8: The description of DBD::Proxy and how to begin, is worth the price of the book. These simple pages make interfacing Linux to Win32 (NT/9[58]) easier to explain and do.
The appendixes provide information about the DBI interface, what properties are available from which handle, also, a brief description of the drivers available. Good reading. I'd reference this section if selecting a database provider for a Perl solution. Enjoyed reading which driver supported what features. Is this information available in pod format, yes, however, this book provides it in one cover with an index. I'd check the driver pods for changes or additional features, as the development of DBD drivers continues.
Interacting with a database system is a complex process. Using Perl DBI gives a standard interface to this complex process. This book does not explain how to use advance features of a particular database system. This is left to the reader and the large number of database references available. If you want to use a stored procedure with a trigger or execute a stored query, Programming the Perl DBI explains how to make the call, however, you'd need to know what to execute, and results to expected.
As I stated in the beginning, this book is a must for anyone serious about using Perl DBI.
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
proved its value within days of buying it 29 Feb. 2000
By Stephanie M Deter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
this is a solid book that's been needed for a long time. it's a good introductory text for perl programmers on how databases work, and how to use the dbi to access them.
i'm one of many who has spent hour after hour bashing my head against the dbi. of everything i've developed in perl, database interactivity and the dbi specifically has had by far the steepest learning curve. what i would have given to have this book six months ago.
even though it comes after my painful experience, though, i've already found information in this book i hadn't gleaned elsewhere that will help me immediately in projects i'm working on. the chapter on dbish alone is worth the price of the book to me.
i'm also glad to see a very detailed breakdown by major dbd drivers. my most significant problems were sussing out the specifics of dbd::informix; even with the generous help of jonathan leffler, i had a hard time figuring out some of what's clearly stated here.
the one thing this book is missing is a detailed explanation of installing the dbi. addressing the basic issues for each major driver would probably easily double the size of the book, but this information is some of the hardest to learn on your own. since the book is targeted at perl programmers, it would be valuable to include the rdbms-specific information about installing the drivers that perl programmers are unlikely to have experience with. this information would also be crucial in easing communication with the various sysadmins and dba's whose help will likely be needed to get any perl-database project off the ground.
i'd like to see an expanded second edition, or perhaps an advanced title, to expand on this complex topic. it would be nice to see an explanation focused for db developers and dbas on how to use perl for their work.
kudos to alligator descartes and tim bunce for an excellent book that makes the dbi more accessible. once i got a rudimentary understanding of the dbi under my belt, i was quickly able to demonstrate perl's power for database connectivity in my work environment. by easing the initial learning curve, descartes and bunce are helping perl prove its reputation as an easy-to-use, powerful programming language.
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