|By Emily Kim||
|January 27, 2000 12:00 AM EST||
Who else is sick and tired of hearing Allaire's product evangelist, Ben Forta, touted as the CF god? Ben Forta this, Ben Forta that. All right already! So he and some other CF gurus wrote a couple books about CF and now we can't go anywhere in CF hyperspace without hearing about it.
Well, bad news for us. He's done it again. But this time in the related but separate arena of Structured Query Language (SQL). His Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes is an excellent introductory book that also serves quite nicely as a pocket reference.
Before I go any further with this review and sing his praises, I have to disclose that I've worked with Ben on other projects. But don't think this makes me go goo-goo and starry-eyed in his presence. Quite the contrary - I'm actually one of his harshest critics. When I first picked up this book, it was with red pen in hand, ready as always to mark it up with corrections and comments. Unfortunately for my happy pen, this book is technically sound with only a few minor errors and the content is very well written. (In the near future you'll be able to find information about errors at www.forta.com/books/0672316641.)
Bad news first: this book is not designed as an advanced discussion of SQL. I was really looking forward to a book that could take my SQL knowledge to the next level. However, while Ben certainly touches on some advanced topics, such as stored procedures and triggers, people who already know SQL well or who've worked with it on a daily basis will probably find that it's more useful as a pocket reference rather than a learning tool.
Nevertheless, I still recommend that nonbeginners who don't have formal training with SQL read the book because, while the majority of it will probably be review, you may be able to fill in some gaps in your SQL knowledge. There are plenty of statements littered throughout the book that clarify SQL syntax and a fair number of gold nugget hints about best practices and SQL optimization.
This book also abounds with Notes, Tips and Cautions that help clarify points and try to keep you out of trouble. In one tip dealing with transaction processing, Ben states: "You cannot roll back CREATE or DROP operations. These statements may be used in a transaction block, but if you perform a rollback they will not be undone." While this may seem intuitive to some, it wasn't obvious to me and I was glad to see it emphasized.
The book begins with a great overview of SQL but doesn't become too lecture-driven. There's at least one example SQL statement on almost every page of the book, and associated scripts and database files that can be downloaded from the Web site (the URL listed earlier in this review). This allows those overachievers to try out each line of code for themselves. And for those of you who have to work with different RDBMSs, Ben also tries to point out syntax differences between SQL Server and Oracle when either differs from standard SQL.
Last but not least, the appendices (unlike many other books) also have some useful material. Besides the review of SQL data types, there's a list of frequently used statements and - my favorite - a list of SQL reserved words.
Try as I might, I found it difficult to be discontented with Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes. It packs an extraordinary amount of information into a tiny package. Weighing in at 208 pages and about the size of half a piece of paper, it's amazing how much good, useful information it actually holds. While I'm still itching for more advanced, in-depth examples, I'm glad to have the book sitting on my reference shelf.
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