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Database Design for Mere Mortals: A Hands-On Guide to Relational Database Design (2nd Edition) 2nd Edition

45 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342752847
ISBN-10: 0201752840
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Editorial Reviews Review

Programmers and software architects don't really make a conscious decision to design an application (particularly one with online exposure) around the three-tier model-view-controller design pattern anymore. Three-tier, largely because of its adaptability and stability, is the norm. All of which means you need a database to underpin each of your applications. Designing your databases correctly can make the difference between slow-running, complicated code and software that's speedy, modular, and easy to work with. Database Design for Mere Mortals prepares someone with only a passing familiarity with databases for the important job of building the persistence layer (also called the data model) for software.

Michael Hernandez explains database design in tradesman's terms. That is, he shows his readers how to identify the business problems that have to be satisfied by a database, then proceeds to explain how to build a solid solution to them. Hernandez's approach combines procedural guidelines (first identify critical facts, then apply a certain logic to yield tables, then establish cross-references, and so on) with practical definitions that clear up much of the rich trove of jargon surrounding databases. He walks through numerous examples, and doesn't shy away from the complexities that always exist in real customers' requirements. If you're not familiar with database design, and want to be, this is the book you need. --David Wall

Topics covered: How to design databases that fit business requirements and make software construction easier. In addition to explaining relational database concepts, the author explains data integrity, null values, keys, table relationships (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many), and data types. He emphasizes processes designers should follow in building a new database or improving an existing one.

From the Back Cover

“This book takes the somewhat daunting process of database design and breaks it into completely manageable and understandable components. Mike’s approach whilst simple is completely professional, and I can recommend this book to any novice database designer.”

     —Sandra Barker, Lecturer, University of South Australia, Australia

“Databases are a critical infrastructure technology for information systems and today’s business. Mike Hernandez has written a literate explanation of database technology—a topic that is intricate and often obscure. If you design databases yourself, this book will educate you about pitfalls and show you what to do. If you purchase products that use a database, the book explains the technology so that you can understand what the vendor is doing and assess their products better.”

     —Michael Blaha, consultant and trainer, author of A Manager’s Guide to Database Technology

“If you told me that Mike Hernandez could improve on the first edition of Database Design for Mere Mortals I wouldn’t have believed you, but he did! The second edition is packed with more real-world examples, detailed explanations, and even includes database-design tools on the CD-ROM! This is a must-read for anyone who is even remotely interested in relational database design, from the individual who is called upon occasionally to create a useful tool at work, to the seasoned professional who wants to brush up on the fundamentals. Simply put, if you want to do it right, read this book!”

     —Matt Greer, Process Control Development, The Dow Chemical Company

“Mike’s approach to database design is totally common-sense based, yet he’s adhered to all the rules of good relational database design. I use Mike’s books in my starter database-design class, and I recommend his books to anyone who’s interested in learning how to design databases or how to write SQL queries.”

     —Michelle Poolet, President, MVDS, Inc.

“Slapping together sophisticated applications with poorly designed data will hurt you just as much now as when Mike wrote his first edition, perhaps even more. Whether you’re just getting started developing with data or are a seasoned pro; whether you've read Mike’s previous book or this is your first; whether you're happier letting someone else design your data or you love doing it yourself—this is the book for you. Mike’s ability to explain these concepts in a way that’s not only clear, but fun, continues to amaze me.”

     —From the Foreword by Ken Getz, MCW Technologies, coauthor ASP.NET Developer's JumpStart

“The first edition of Mike Hernandez’s book Database Design for Mere Mortals was one of the few books that survived the cut when I moved my office to smaller quarters. The second edition expands and improves on the original in so many ways. It is not only a good, clear read, but contains a remarkable quantity of clear, concise thinking on a very complex subject. It’s a must for anyone interested in the subject of database design.”

     —Malcolm C. Rubel, Performance Dynamics Associates

“Mike’s excellent guide to relational database design deserves a second edition. His book is an essential tool for fledgling Microsoft Access and other desktop database developers, as well as for client/server pros. I recommend it highly to all my readers.”

     —Roger Jennings, author of Special Edition Using Access 2002

“There are no silver bullets! Database technology has advanced dramatically, the newest crop of database servers perform operations faster than anyone could have imagined six years ago, but none of these technological advances will help fix a bad database design, or capture data that you forgot to include! Database Design for Mere Mortals™, Second Edition, helps you design your database right in the first place!”

     —Matt Nunn, Product Manager, SQL Server, Microsoft Corporation

“When my brother started his professional career as a developer, I gave him Mike’s book to help him understand database concepts and make real-world application of database technology. When I need a refresher on the finer points of database design, this is the book I pick up. I do not think that there is a better testimony to the value of a book than that it gets used. For this reason I have wholeheartedly recommended to my peers and students that they utilize this book in their day-to-day development tasks.”

     —Chris Kunicki, Senior Consultant,

“Mike has always had an incredible knack for taking the most complex topics, breaking them down, and explaining them so that anyone can ‘get it.’ He has honed and polished his first very, very good edition and made it even better. If you're just starting out building database applications, this book is a must-read cover to cover. Expert designers will find Mike’s approach fresh and enlightening and a source of great material for training others.”

     —John Viescas, President, Viescas Consulting, Inc., author of Running Microsoft Access 2000 and coauthor of SQL Queries for Mere Mortals

“Whether you need to learn about relational database design in general, design a relational database, understand relational database terminology, or learn best practices for implementing a relational database, Database Design for Mere Mortals™, Second Edition, is an indispensable book that you’ll refer to often. With his many years of real-world experience designing relational databases, Michael shows you how to analyze and improve existing databases, implement keys, define table relationships and business rules, and create data views, resulting in data integrity, uniform access to data, and reduced data-entry errors.”

     —Paul Cornell, Site Editor, MSDN Office Developer Center

Sound database design can save hours of development time and ensure functionality and reliability. Database Design for Mere Mortals™, Second Edition, is a straightforward, platform-independent tutorial on the basic principles of relational database design. It provides a commonsense design methodology for developing databases that work.

Database design expert Michael J. Hernandez has expanded his best-selling first edition, maintaining its hands-on approach and accessibility while updating its coverage and including even more examples and illustrations.

This edition features a CD-ROM that includes diagrams of sample databases, as well as design guidelines, documentation forms, and examples of the database design process.

This book will give you the knowledge and tools you need to create efficient and effective relational databases.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 611 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 2 edition (March 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201752840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201752847
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,530 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Craig L. Howe on April 15, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are new to database design; this is the book.
I am new; I loved the book. It starts with the basics, describes them in plain English. Then it guides you through a process of sound database design. Although I am not one of them, it is may not be a book for people with a degree of specialized knowledge. You do not need a background in mathematics or computer science to understand it.
Michael Hernandez is one of those rare individuals who sees database design as an art form rather than a science. More importantly, he possesses the ability to communicate complex concepts in simple declarative sentences. The result is an understandable, common sense methodology for developing databases that work.
Why would you ask for more?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gayle H on April 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
I am a business (systems) analyst by profession and I highly recommend this book. Every IT business analyst should own this book and keep it close when defining technical requirements. The author is clear and concise and provides easy-to-understand definitions of relational database terms and how each object/element contributes to sound database design and, ultimately, data integrity.
I read one of the other reviews before writing mine that mentioned that this book may be too simplistic for 'immortals' in the database design world. From what I've experienced in over 15 years in the industry, poor data quality continues to show its ugly head over and over. Maybe if some of those 'immortals' out there would revisit the basics of good database design, more data warehouses would succeed and projects would not overrun due to ever-present bad data!
This is an excellent resource to review over and over again - I say, don't hesitate to buy this. You won't be disappointed (unless, of course, you're immortal!).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Kramer on November 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm a programmer who has been roped into doing some database design work for the database that my application uses.

While this book presents a very sane rational analytic approach based on interviewing users for developing a database system for a large (or small) organization, it isn't so applicable to my situation. When developing a database as the infrastructure to a program (rather than developing a database that stores data for which programmatic access is secondary), the data tends to be more abstract and this book doesn't really address that as much.

Also, it doesn't really address the issue that I'm having right now which is that the legacy database that I'm working with needs work, but I whatever changes I make will require changes to the code, so I was hoping to get some guidance to help me prioritize what changes to make first.

Still, it is well written in simple English and seems like it would be a great read for the intended audience.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James on July 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
The book does a fair job at explaining basic concepts about database design by keeping the english simple. However, it fails to lay a proper foundation for a number of key topics. It is poorly organizated and can not by itself take a novice to a clear understanding of database design.

It appears the book is targeted at designing small MS Access databases. The author fails to develop the concepts of multiple relationships between tables. He also provides a narrow definition of first normal form that violates first normal form and neglects any discussion of Domain Key Normal Form (DKNF).

While the author deserves kuddos for presenting recursion, he fails to do so smoothly or in a single location in the book. Ultimately, a reader may wonder why use recursion because the book clearly doesn't tell them.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is a great book for beginners. As some comments here suggest there is not much of *design* in here if you are already been there and done that before. But, if you are a beginner and wants to start off this would be a great help. Many of the concepts are explained in thourough detail and with solid examples. A definite database design book for beginners.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steven on April 22, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Michael Hernandez does a great job of explaining how the relational model works, and how a database should be designed from start to finish. Most of us will probably not follow his advice, though.

If you do decide to follow his advice, then be prepared for a very lengthy trip when designing your DBs. I tried on my first DB and found that the company I was designing the DB for started to get slightly irritated. This is because in this book Michael suggests you have a full blown manager and or user meeting with virtually every single change you make (also meetings for requirements, ideas, characteristic identification, user input meetings, manager meetings... oh look, a change happened, now we have to go through all of the same meetings again... and again... and... >yawn<... every other page in this book suggests another meeting). I must have had 25-30 meetings total, which just isn't necessary. Also, there is all sorts of spec sheets you should fill out for every single aspect of the database. I would probably just use a modeling tool (such as Visio) instead of going through this daunting task (I would have had to fill out over 300 spec sheets just for the fields!... it was a big DB)

Although his way of designing is probably the way you should really go, I found that designing a sound database doesn't require quite so much work. You can do most of the design process if you have a good modeling tool, which is what I ended up doing and my DB turned out quite well (you still should conduct meetings, but not for every single aspect of the database... your clients will begin to think you have no idea what you're doing). However, this book pounds the relational design in your head so much, that you can't help but get over the tough learning curve of how a relational database really should be designed.
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