Oracle SQL: the Essential Reference Paperback – 6 Oct 2000
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For those who like to know the background and context of a subject, the 17-page foreword in Oracle SQL: The Essential Reference by Ken Jacobs, an Oracle Corporation Vice Principal, is a treat. It traces the development of SQL from its first highly mathematical beginnings as defined by Codd nearly 30 years ago to the current SQL-1999 standard.
The book proper is a self-confessed reference book, presenting the topic as concisely as possible. Users are expected to be developers and database administrators who are "somewhat familiar" with the relational model and SQL. Strangely the author appears to be less familiar than he should be with some aspects of the model, stating as he does that the relational model is so called because tables can be "related". Codd would despair: a relation is simply a mathematical term for a table. Furthermore, Kreines describes an outer join without covering the two flavours--left outer and right outer. The distinction may be trivial but it is likely that both terms will be encountered by anyone working with SQL for any length of time.
Happily things improve dramatically when we reach the nitty gritty of SQL and PL/SQL statements. Contents include chapters on two subsets of SQL, Data Definition Language (DDL) and Data Manipulation Language (DML): the first is for manipulating the data structure--removing tables, adding columns and so on--and the latter manipulates data--inserting, changing and retrieving it. The highly useful aggregate functions for summarising data get a chapter too, as do the Oracle tools for optimising queries, EXPLAIN PLAN and SQL Trace.
Ultimately this is a highly useful reference to Oracle's implementation of SQL and, since this is an O'Reilly book with a trademark "animal" cover, I now also know that scorpions fluoresce in ultra violet light. --Mark Whitehorn
'Oracle SQL The Essential Reference' is a great reference book for those individuals using an Oracle Database. -- Wayne Graham, Williamsburg Macromedia User's Group, March 2003See all Product Description
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So from my point of view, this gets 5 stars. I was not after a 800 page book, but a concise easy to use reference for Oracle SQL.
For once the O'Reilly offering for this topic is far inferior to that offered by Oracle Press.
So if you're considering this book, my advice would be, 'do not bother'.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you are looking for a tutorial on SQL, then this is probably not the book that you want to buy. This is a good book if you are a developer whom needs a quick reference guide.
The beginning section of the reference chapter is, in my opinion, a little bit of a kluge. The authors attempt to list everything that a DBA/developer might need to do. This LONG list simply states the command needed. You then need to look up the syntax in the index (why not just put the page number right there?) The list covers multiple pages, so it can be troublesome to read (if you don't know the exact terminology).
I must admit that I am a beginner SQL developer, so I have only used a limited amount of the commands, but it has been very useful for the commands that I have used, and in helping me expand what I am using SQL for. I must stress that it is NOT a tutorial.
If you've ever been kept up late trying to get the syntax right on some complex SELECT or CREATE TABLE command, this is the book for you.
As in almost all O'Reilly books, this one is very well-organized and easy to follow. There are just enough examples to get you by, though if you are coupling Oracle, SQL and a scripting language like ColdFusion you might get confused with the "command line only" examples.
Oracle's Technet reference online is also good for this information, but they have a tendency to move URLs when you least expect it. This book is relatively inexpensive, and when kept within arm's reach you can whip out SQL queries in nothing flat. Earmark the reserved words section and remember where the Aggregate Functions section starts and you should be good.
The first half of the text is really enough to recommend the purchase, but this book also goes over SQL*Plus and PL/SQL, as well as some brief tips on SQL statement tuning. It isn't enough to be complete, but it's more than enough to get you started.
This is an indispensible book!
(If, on the other hand, you're a SQL beginner, stop right here. This is not a book for SQL newbies. There is not a chapter with 100 examples of different types of SELECT statements, for example. It is not a tutorial!)
Each chapter covers a different area. For example, chapter 5 is about "SQL Functions". It goes through all the functions, giving you the syntax, a paragraph saying what it does, and then an actual example. Many of the examples are pretty trivial, just a couple of lines, but the ones in the PL/SQL chapter have some meaningful code to illustrate things like the LOOP statement, which is nice.
But. When you come back after the weekend and want to look something up, you'll be banging your head against the wall, because the index on this thing is sorely lacking. Just now I spent ten minutes trying to look up %TYPE, and had to leaf through the book before finding it on page 266. Very annoying. O'Reilly should know better: an "essential" part of any "reference" book is a kick-ass index.
I give it five stars for content and one star for lack of meaningful index, for an overall rating of three stars. Maybe in the next release they'll get it right. (Speaking of which: this book is (c)2000 and covers up to Oracle 8i.)
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