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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book attempts to go over some advanced topics in SQL programming. While it succeeds in showing these concepts, the main issue is that the implementations are too generic and don't work in every implementation of SQL. It would be nice to see a table or indication of some sort that shows if the topic discussed works in an individual implementation of SQL. As I read a section that sounded great, I would test it out in Microsoft SQL server only to find that it was not supported. It would be nice to know if what was discussed was available in any SQL implementation or if it was only part of the ANSI SQL XX standards. He talks to SQL-92 standards that he says are not implemented in many (or any!) database engine... That does not help.
For the items that are applicable, they are so specific, I can't image any time that I would need them. For example matrix multiplication and graph theory.
On the advanced topics, the real good ones are covered in more detail in his other books. I would recommend Joe Celko's Trees and Hierarchies which goes into more detail from the trees section in this book.
Overall, I'm glad I reviewed this book, but I would like to see a language specific version that provided working examples.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
After Learning the Basics of SQL as well as the admin side of Oracle SQL, the knowledge of how far SQL has developed in terms of being a language that gets data from one person to another, is quite an amazing piece of work, and the glitz for most people who see the result is in the User Interface, since they never see the hard work that goes on underneath the main part of an SQL data machine.
This book takes you through Tables as entities, tables as relationships, and the idea of Rows versus records.In the "great Schema" of things, Transactions and concurrency control is explained and illustrated in detail.Coming from the detail of Schema level Objects to the various types of Tables and the language issues from the earliest SQL to the later XML forms, it is all illustrated in this book for those who wish to work with the Core Essential that is SQL.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 6, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I learned SQL from the first edition of this book, many years ago. Some of the material covered in that edition has been moved to different books and this basically reflects the emergence of SQl as the lingua franca of databases and the burgeoning demands placed on developers. So in some cases, the reader may have to look at other texts for specific coverage of items sch as Trees and Heirarchies.

What I have always liked about Joe Celko's books is that once you start reading, it's hard to stop. He likes to explain why the SQL standards are written the way they are, often including why SQL databases are not as portable as might be expected. Since his books are not vendor specific, he can provide tips and hints, and in some cases what NOT to do, for several of the main vendors. There is much pedigogy presented; perhaps not always of direct value, but certainly interesting.

Joe lays a substantial foundation about data types, NULLS, implementation and the set theory basis of SQL. In fact the basic SELECT statement does not even get detailed attention until Chapter 24. But remember, this is a book for 'Smarties' and many of the difficulties of getting SQL to return specific result sets are presented in earlier chapters. Some familiarity with the language will be required.

After Chapter 24, the examples are many and the number of data retreival issues covered many: simple aggregates, OLAP, statistics, matrices, UNIONs, graphs, temporal queries, and optimization (even FoxPro gets a tip of the hat for speed).

Highly recommended!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
By now, Joe Celko's books have become SQL programming standards. This title, "SQL for Smarties" is now in its 4th edition, and covers a wide mix of things a SQL programmer would want to know about, after learning the basics of SELECT..WHERE, such as date/time math, advanced queries, and odds and ends like calculating medians across records.

With books like "SQL for Smarties", which have been around long enough, readers have the choice of paying for the newest edition or saving their money by buying an older edition. I happen to own the second edition, and I notice that material from that edition has been re-arranged, and several new chapters have been introduced. Unless one requires something available only in the latest edition, I recommend finding an older edition.

To put this review in context, I have many years of experience writing in procedural programming languages, but only occasionally develop SQL code.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2013
This book has some fantastic information in it on how to properly write SQL code, especially from the perspective of a programmer in a structured language. The major glaring problem with the book is its editing. There are typos everywhere, many of them in code examples, which breaks them. Additionally large portions of the text are copied from chapter to chapter, probably making up 5% of the book. This seems lazy and also makes the book more confusing as you get a nagging feeling of deja vu. With a good editor this book might be worth 5 stars. As it is the book is only 3, causing a lot of confusion and problems where there shouldn't be any.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Remember the movie "Peggy Sue Got Married - or Did she?" There was this one line - when Peggy Sue's algebra teacher asks about her algebra test, her reply is "Well, Mr Snelgrove, I happen to know that in the future I will not have the slightest use for algebra, and I speak from experience."

I've been designing interactive websites for over 15 years, primarily in Cold Fusion and SQL, so I'm pretty familiar with SQL functions and queries. After perusing this book I found out that I don't know nearly as much as I thought I did. I was introduced to several new techniques and functions, and a reminder that I should have paid better attention in that third "r" class - "rithmitic."

Much of the book delves into esoterica and attempts to apply the reader's knowledge of advanced mathematical theory to SQL. The only problem - I'm not that smart. I have always hated math - no idea why, especially given my chosen profession. I'm more of a logic person - that's why SQL appeals to me. That's why Peggy Sue comes to mind.

Anyway, if you're looking for an advanced SQL book, I can recommend this one heartily. Quite a bit delves into math and theory, but most people can glean something from that. Also, the book is what I'll call "generic" SQL. The problem with SQL is that there are so many flavors - so you'll have to tweak/modify the examples to match your version. It has a pretty complete contents and index, so you can look up SQL functions and topics quickly.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Joe Celko, SQL for Smarties 4/E (Morgan Kaufmann, 2011)

Full disclosure: a copy of this book was provided to me free of charge by Amazon Vine.

It had been a very long time since I had updated the Duration column on my spreadsheet, but I figured if any book warranted doing so, it would be SQL for Smarties. I knew it had taken me a long, long time to get through it (it sat on my desk at work for quite a while and I had no time there to get to it), but even I didn't know how long specifically. As of this writing, it is the third-longest I have ever taken to read a book—from first page to last, 1,062 days. (#2 is a book that had gone back to the library for three years before I took it out again; #1 is a book that got lost for four years before I stumbled upon it in a box and finished it up within the week.) That is one heckuva lot of time for a book, but then SQL for Smarties is not normally the kind of book one reads from beginning to end anyway, so take all that with a grain of salt.

The bad part: there are long stretches of it that are pretty dry. Celko has been a member of many of the SQL standards committees, and quotes at length from the documents he helped to author for them. For some people, that might be a great way to learn. Me, I'm a big fan of examples, and lots of them, and they do show up in almost every section; I would've liked a stronger focus on practice than theory, but well, YMMV, and probably will. This is balanced out by the fact that when Celko lets his (non-existent) hair down, every once in a while a sentence will pop out that you can't believe you just read in what is, essentially, a technical manual, and those sorts of little surprises may seem like throwaways, but for someone like me, they add a lot of intangible value; this one will be a ref manual on my shelf after a lot of other ones have fallen by the wayside.

The other drawback, and this was a consciously-planned one on Celko's part, is that the book is language-pure, which pretty much by definition in today's world means implementation-agnostic. Which is not a bad thing on the theory level, but can be nightmare in practice if you straddle a couple of database lines. I work with both T-SQL and MySQL, and more than once I've found myself doing something like saying “well, why aren't we using a LIMIT statement there?” when talking about a stored procedure in T-SQL. “See? Right here in Celko...”, and then we actually try it and Microsoft borks because LIMIT doesn't exist in T-SQL. (Hey, Microsoft, fix that, it's an amazing function.) To be fair to Celko, he throws in an admonition about that every so often, but that won't combat wishful thinking.

On the other hand, the big, big upside is that as long as you keep the above caveats in mind, SQL for Smarties is really the only SQL reference book you'll ever need (pending new editions, of course); it may not be exhaustive—I think I remember Celko saying that once or twice—but it's pretty comprehensive, it dives into nooks and crannies that most people will never explore (even if they should), it addresses not only the way the language should be used but the ways it shouldn't (and is often pressed into service to do anyway), etc. There is a massive wealth of information here for database developers who use a flavor of SQL, and it belongs on the shelf of every person who fits that description, amateur or professional. *** ½
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The author spends a few pages early on whining about being dinged in reviews for earlier editions by people expecting a book more oriented toward those learning SQL. This is most definitely not that book.

In fact, you'd best be pretty familiar with the terminology of SQL, of data bases, and ideally somewhat familiar with competing dialects of SQL implementations. Until you are -- and you will be by the end of the book -- it can be hard to understand what he is communicating. He takes no prisoners.

Having plowed thru the book, I was a worthwhile purchase and did give me a few immediately useful tips I was able to use. (E.g., in addition to inclusion criteria in a WHERE statement, you can also include redundant exclusion criteria. Doing so sped up procession of a series of time consuming commands from a half hour to a few minutes.) And I better appreciate the many & complex ways SELECT statements can be configured and assembled.

Most of the book looks a specific problems or types of problems, and the methodologies to address them. From the pattern of approach you will learn to build your own solutions to your own problems. But again, the book is not intended as a tutorial on basic or even intermediate SQL. It is not a tutorial at all save for a study on each of a variety of common problems DBAs face.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 13, 2010
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having brushed passed the table of contents, I was a bit concerned when the first few chapters were on table/query structure. How the cursor works, etc. However going back to the table of contents I realized I had just gotten into the 'base' knowledge, and the advanced stuff was after that.

The best part of this book is the explaining of how things really work, breaking it down into what SQL actually should be doing in these cases, and really the theory behind why it does this. The author expands upon that data, and gives some basic (and then more advanced) scenarios in order to solve data. This pushes you into thinking about how SQL deals with data, and ultimately forces you into a position where you can handle/manage your data easily.

Couple of downsides for me. It's SQL ANSI standards based, this means software like MySQL which doesn't support the entire standards set, can't support some of what's in the book directly (although could be changed into doing that). It also seems to be quite heavy on theory, and how things are supposed to work, and a little bit less in the 'applied' area, which is what I was hoping for. But knowing that it's still great knowledge to have and learn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2012
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Joe Celko's SQL For Smarties: Advanced SQL Programming is an excellent resource for anybody looking to expand on their SQL skill set. As a book geared for advanced users, it would likely not be a good recommendation for those just starting with SQL. The world of SQL is something that just about anybody in IT or computer related fields needs a good understanding of as they advance their career. Even an advanced text like this is useful for those that may not be database gurus every day of the week.

Even for someone that finds SQL interesting, the book is very textbook-like. That's okay for the most part, although it would have been great to see some more typical exercises and examples in the business world. Even if you think you know tons about SQL, you will likely find some great information here that could improve your workflow.

I give it four stars because while the book has some minor flaws, there is no question that the author knows his stuff and the book is an excellent resource...period.
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