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VINE VOICEon August 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
No doubt about it, this is an old-school college text book with hard cover and durable binding.

This book is no light read and is focused on the design and management of relational database tables using uni-temporal and bi-temporal data primarily in a business setting such as healthcare systems utilizing transaction processing.

Objectives as mentioned in the book:

* Seamless Access to Temporal Data -- One objective of this book is to describe how to manage uni-temporal and bi-temporal data in relational databases in such a way that they can be seamlessly accessed together with current data.

* Encapsulation Of Temporal Data Structures and Processes -- A second objective is to describe how to encapsulate the complexities of uni-temporal and bi-temporal data management.

* Enterprise Contextualization -- A third objective of this book is to explain how to implement temporal data management as an enterprise solution.

* Internalization of Pipeline Datasets -- The final objective of this book is to describe how to bring pending transactions into their production tables that are their targets, and how to retain posted transactions in those same tables.

Working with temporal data on a daily basis I find this subject interesting and this book relevant to my needs but I can see where this subject matter would apply to a niche market.

This textbook is not for the casual reader and it assumes that the reader has a level of database skills already in place, has a familiarity with temporal data, some familiarity with relational database tables, and assumes the reader has some SQL coding skills or is familiar with the syntax.

There are many examples throughout the book and all examples are in black & white with diagrams or coding examples; there are no glossy photos. Although I have not yet been able to go through the entire book I can see that I will benefit from the information contained and apply it to my daily work.

This book is not for everyone and is not misleading in trying to sell itself as an all-in-one database development resource. The title says it all -- Managing Time in Relational Databases: How to Design, Update and Query Temporal Data
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VINE VOICEon November 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When this book was published last year, I must admit that the data architect in me was excited that an advanced database text had finally come along that addressed some issues that every data modeler must face (or should face) once they have mastered the rudimentary. The bulk of published database related books discuss SQL, or usage of specific database products. And while more books are beginning to appear on shelves that address topics such as data modeling, this genre is certainly in need of more texts that address the full spectrum of database usage.

Despite the weightiness of this 400-page effort, which required quite the journey (be forewarned), this book is one of the most painstakingly detailed technology efforts that I have read in quite some time that goes to great lengths in making sure the reader understands the material that is presented. No stones are left unturned along the way in the explanations of the authors on how to design, update, and query temporal data. In addition, the introductions that Johnston and Weis provide on temporal data management and asserted versioning in the first 150 pages are unrivaled in textbook publishing.

The authors state in their preface that there are four objectives of this book: (1) to describe how to manage uni-temporal and bi-temporal data in relational databases in such a way that they can be seamlessly accessed together with current data, (2) to describe how to encapsulate the complexities of uni-temporal and bi-temporal data management, (3) to explain how to implement temporal data management as an enterprise solution, and (4) to describe how to bring pending transactions into the production tables that are their targets, and how to retain posted transactions in those same tables.

The authors also note that as this book when to press, they started the process of converting their initial provisional patent application for Asserted Versioning into a patent application, although any non-software-vendor company is granted the right to develop its own temporal data management software based on the concepts presented in this book, as long as such software is for use only by the company and not sold, leased, licensed, or given away to any other company or individual. An implementation of the concepts presented by the authors, the Asserted Versioning Framework (AVF), is also being created by the authors.

Superb illustrations accompany explanations of concepts in all the right places. And the concluding chapter that the authors provide offers more substance than many lengthy white papers, offering an "ongoing research and development" section that presents a partial list of topics on which the authors are working, with topics such as use of AVF via Java and Hibernate of special interest to me. The asserted versioning glossary that spans over 50 pages of fine print and concludes the text is also highly appreciated. Well recommended to all data professionals.
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VINE VOICEon November 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is most certainly not a light read. It is as extremely (excruciatingly) detailed text book detailing design, theory, and management of relational databases using temporal data. This isn't a WROX or O'Reilly practical guide to development. It is an educational text book that will bring you back to your worst computer science/IT collegiate nightmares and a total snooze-fest.

That being said, it's still a great book full of great information and concepts that are abstract enough to be applied to a variety of different scenarios and software related problems.
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VINE VOICEon March 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Managing Time in Relational Databases by Tom Johnston & Randall Weis is an excellent book describing their research into how to model and manage data from a temporal, versioned point of view.

The book is clearly meant to be an old school college text book introducing the reader to a specific problem domain. The information is clearly stated and restated many times (sometimes to the point of redunancy which gets a bit frustrating at times). The book is very slow reading and will put you to sleep very quickly due to the redundancy. I felt like I had to skip ahead many times to get to the next topic / concept to keep my interested.

The book gives you a good introduction to temporal data management using bi-temporal asserted versioning tables. There are several keys concepts here that will make a huge difference in scalability of database tracking temporal data (data that changes over time without losing any of the information) especially when it comes to data mining exercises. The asserted element of the data allows you to assert for a given time period when the data is accurate and should be used. The versioning part comes in by keeping a log of the data as it changes without losing any information. This is very important for financial transaction processing, reporting and tracability for SOX type auditing/reporting.

The authors have written the book not just as a text book but also to get you to purchase the software they have developed -- AVF (asserted versioning framework). The concepts in the book are targetting to a DBA familiar with schema design and procedural programming for RDBMS (triggers and stored procedures). There are several key concepts that they cover in detail which will save someone a great deal of time in implementing an asserted versioned bi-temporal data schema -- learn from their mistakes without having to make so many on your own!

The discussion on Allen relationships (operators describing all the relationships between data ranges) is very helpful and well explained. The relationships are very important to understand in order to implement any temporal date operators.

My issues with the book are as follows:
---------------------------------------
1) Too much like a college text book and not a book showing you how to get up to speed on the topic faster.

2) Organization of the book -- I would have liked to get more of they concepts defined quickly up front especially the notation they use for describing temporal data.

3) Less redundancy in the chapters

4) Not enough examples to show the power of asserted, versioned data. The concept should be fairly clear on the face of it but it would be nice to have them go over domain spaces that would be especially benefit from the technology (along with lessons learned in the research)

Overall:
The effective and efficient managing of time related data is going to be a very important area in the near future. The book provides excellent insights into how to do it as well as hints at the value of the concepts.
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VINE VOICEon February 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Johnston and Weis strive to cover an important and much too lightly discussed topic, which is temporal data management. Too often system architects treat time / timestamps as simply just another field in a data model. In a text that began as a series of articles in Information Management in 2006, the authors attempt to survey current thinking -- for relational databases at least -- in managing temporal data. The authors' chosen approach, "asserted version tables," while embraced by others as well, perhaps receives undue focus. That said, considering the light coverage of this topic elsewhere, this intentionally narrowed view is tolerable.

I came away from a read of this somewhat academic analysis feeling that there is still a need for a text that introduces the subject -- and the concern -- to a wider software engineering audience, one that makes an even stronger cases for addressing POI (Point-in-time)-aware data models beyond the versioning model.

Two specific complaints:
* A major caveat (discussed on p. 100) is that the treatise intentionally ignores column level versioning. E.g., the solution proposed will address temporal changes in, say, a status variable vs. just the last value stored, but will not address dropping the status column altogether.

* The authors decided to omit an academic bibliography that would require access to ACM, IEEE or even other Elsevier behind-pay-wall journals. In one sense, this is laudable, since all readers have access to the papers, but one still prefers a thorough bibliography that included those papers and conference proceedings.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Tom Johnston and Randal Weis, <strong>Managing Time in Relational Databases</strong> (Morgan Kaufmann, 2010)

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

Good lord, it took me forever to get round to finishing this. Three hundred forty days, according to the spreadsheet; I probably should have just let twenty-five more run out, but I wanted to get it off my plate. When I picked it up, like a few other reviewers (judging by their reviews), I was unaware that it was a textbook. I'm not sure I've seen anyone else mention it (I only skim reviews at best before writing my own so as to color my own ideas as little as possible), but the book also is geared toward a specific product from the authors. Had I known either of these things, I probably wouldn't have gone for it in the first place, but it's not as bad as all that.

Why? Because the ideas they're discussing here are really, really exciting. Temporalizing databases is a fantastic idea that no one has really been able to get their heads around in the SQL world yet because the SQL standard doesn't have the capability to do so yet. The authors have created an API that lays over SQL and handles the complexity innate in trying to get generic SQL to do something it's very much not meant to do; <em>Managing Time in Relational Databases</em>, then, is basically <em>Asserted Versioning: Theory and Practice</em>. There's enough theory that you could probably roll your own API, but--not surprisingly--these guys really, really want you to buy theirs. And I'll tell you what, just thinking about some of the concepts they're talking about here, I'd be willing to go talk to my CIO about working it in at my company if we actually used bi-temporal data...except that I'd probably have to give him the book as part of the explanation, and I'm pretty sure he'd fall asleep reading it. In true textbook fashion, Weis and Johnston take some of the most exciting stuff I've read in a computer book since I discovered Ron Penton's take on data structures and algorithms and make it drier than my sophomore-year Abnormal Psych professor's Ed Gein lecture. (My sophomore-year AbPsych professor is the only person on the planet who could find a way to make Ed Gein boring.) I've long held the hypothesis that any subject can be made interesting as long as the person writing about it presents it well (viz. Hodding Carter's delightful <em>Flushed: How the Plumber Saved Civilization</em>). I've now found a perfect book to illustrate the reverse.

Despite this book being the hardest slog I've had in years, and despite the constant product placement, the information herein is valuable to database engineers, especially those whose businesses rely on temporal data (dear Amazon: implement this stuff and maybe we can stop with the whole pages disappearing whenever a publisher decides to change an ISBN between pre-release and release gig), and because of that, if you're willing to do a bit of reverse-engineering to roll your own, it's still valuable. (Needless to say, if you shell out for the product, the book is pretty much mandatory.) ** ½
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on May 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book is a highly technical discussion of the persistence of bi-temporal records in relation databases management systems(RDBMS). There are many challenges for engineers dealing with temporal data. RDBMS design for high performance applications requires great care. The authors give an overview of non-temporal, uni-temporal and bi-temporal records. The need for bi-temporal data becomes apparent when the need to tracking changes to records arises. These present many challenges such a correct resolution of record state and correct record presentation and inclusion in queries.

They discuss a method of dealing with such issues, called "Asserted Versioning" and explain how to design and implement a data model using this technique in depth. The authors do not shy away from the corner cases and discuss in detail the trade-offs that are made as well as the use of Allen relationships.

This is a technical treatise that anyone who has to deal with record management for bi-temporal data should read.
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VINE VOICEon December 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This review waited for a good application. That opportunity finally came with a data warehouse remediation project. The challenge was re-doing a data model wherein not only were fact and dimension tables not well-implemented or modeled, but where fundamental data issues were completely misunderstood in the original requirements. Thus, for example, a workaround was implemented whereby fact rows were "re-synced" with dimensional updates on a daily basis because dimensional tables contained embedded facts!

"Managing Time" helped in sorting out some of the modeling issues, particularly in distinguishing among normal, slowly-changing dimensions, changes which need assertions, and data that might normally be treated as facts which, by contract, may always instead be treated as dimensional. The latter two considerations weighed heavily in the redesign, and the book provides specific techniques in understanding and addressing these.

An excellent book for the professional practitioner. Not for the casual data modeler.
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VINE VOICEon October 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Managing Time in Relational Databases is essential reading for anyone designing information systems. As someone who has done this for a living for many years, constructing robust, useful, and easy to use scheduling systems is one of the greatest challenges confronting database programmers. This is much more than an issue of programming language, rather it is a challenge of conceptualization, operationalization, and implementation. This book covers these areas in ways that are highly instructive and practical. Using examples taken from real-world contexts, the author explains the theory of relational design in clear, easy to understand language. But perhaps the best use of this comprehensive treatise is that it provides an outstanding resource manual for any relational database developer. You will want to keep this volume handy as you design client-based solutions. You will also be inspired to use what you've learned in this book to open up consulting opportunities for solutions you've already developed because now you can offer substantive improvements and enhancements to already satisfied clients. This is a must have book.
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VINE VOICEon August 23, 2010
Before you purchase this, please realize: THIS IS A TEXTBOOK. IT IS FOR IT PROFESSIONALS or IT STUDENTS ONLY.

This book will NOT teach you how to make better MS Access relational databases (which is what I thought it did).

It discusses the history of relational databases, lists common problems, and goes on to discuss theories of solutions. The Amazon discussion of the product indicates that it has tons and tons of examples. It does have examples, but NOT PRACTICAL, easily applicable ones.

This book sounded like it would have been useful, but it is not. It might be good from an educational perspective, but I am not an IT professional or an IT student and aside from those two categories of people I can't really see who'd want to read this or why.

When I saw the words "relational database", I thought, well, Microsoft Access is a relational database. Filemaker Pro is a relational database. And yes, the common problems they list are indeed problems that need to be solved when making databases in those programs. BUT this book will not help you find a solution. So don't buy it for that reason. This book does not go into Access or Filemaker Pro programming. So don't expect it to (which I did, because the Amazon notes for the book said it had lots of examples. It does, just in the more academic sense of the word "examples").
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