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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Useful and Entertaining Book
I have a vast collection of SQL books. If it was published in the last 10 or so years, I probably have a copy. Some of them are very good, but there are quite a few similar-looking SQL books, with a similar purpose and a similar look-and-feel. So it takes some doing for a new SQL book to rise above the chaff... but SQL Antipatterns by Bill Karwin manages to do so...
Published on July 30, 2010 by Data Guy

versus
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent read, basic but very practical
Very easy read with good format. The book was more novice than I was hoping, overall, but I found a good chapter or two.

My biggest gripe is the application development chapter. The author likely should have stayed away from this topic altogether as the book just sort of bottoms out at this point. This chapter left much to be desired as far as application...
Published 19 months ago by B2berry


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Useful and Entertaining Book, July 30, 2010
This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
I have a vast collection of SQL books. If it was published in the last 10 or so years, I probably have a copy. Some of them are very good, but there are quite a few similar-looking SQL books, with a similar purpose and a similar look-and-feel. So it takes some doing for a new SQL book to rise above the chaff... but SQL Antipatterns by Bill Karwin manages to do so.

This is not yet another book on SQL syntax or style. SQL Antipatterns is something altogether unique. The book is designed to point out the common things that SQL developers do, that they shouldn't be doing. Each chapter assists the reader in identifying, explaining, and correcting dangerous practices - or antipatterns.

If you take the time to read through this thoughtful book I'm sure you'll recognize some of the antipatterns. Some of you will have done them yourself, whereas others of you probably will have worked to undo some of them.

OK, many of you are still likely to be wondering what exactly is an antipattern is, right? Well, I'll give you one of the examples from Karwin's book -- Jaywalking. This is the first antipattern covered in the book and it is one of my favorites (err, I mean least favorites, I think). Jaywalking is when developers store comma-separated lists in a database column instead of redesigning the database structure in a normalized fashion. Karwin calls this jaywalking because both this practice and actual jaywalking on a street are acts of "avoiding an intersection." Funny...

Each antipatterns is described along with a clear explanation as to why it is a bad practice and advice on building a better solution. Other antipatterns covered in the book are named almost as intriguingly, such as Pseudokey Neat-Freak, Keyless Entry, Magic Beans, See No Evil, and Metadata Tribbles.

The book is not just for unlearning what you shouldn't be doing, it can also be helpful for learning new and improved development techniques. Reading SQL Antipatterns can help you to learn about current technology for full-text search, how to design code that is resistant to SQL injection attacks, and many other techniques for success.

The book is very well-organized into four parts grouping the antipatterns into the following categories: logical database design, physical database design, queries, and application development.

SQL Antipatterns should become a useful tool for DBAs and database programmers to help them create well-designed databases and applications... and to help us eliminate these common errors from our database implementations.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent guide to Database Design tradeoffs, July 9, 2010
This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
I recently got a new job and inherited a vast collection of SQL queries to maintain. Reading Karwin's book has been a tremendous help! Each chapter considers a particular design issue ("How can I store more than one value in a field?") and shows the most common, flawed method (the "antipattern"). He carefully explains the disadvantages, then usually shows several other ways to accomplish the same goal.

One of the things I like best about the book is that the analysis isn't black and white. Every methods has advantages and disadvantages, which Karwin carefully unpacks. He also reviews and clarifies relational theory as he goes: his discussion of "Null" is a masterpiece. In general, he favors solutions that don't subvert the basic principles of relational database theory.

This would not be a good book to try to learn SQL or Database theory from, but if you are just starting to get some real-world experience it is a Godsend. Highly Recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deals with problems related to both database's design and application developing, August 24, 2010
By 
Foti Massimo (Vezia (Switzerland)) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
I must admit that there was barely anything new to me in the book, but I have been in the field for quite a few years, dealing with many projects, so I had the "privilege" of seeing many horror stories. Still, I feel the book is valuable even for seasoned veterans. The main benefit is that the author organized and grouped the anti-patterns, each one is analyzed very well and contains some wise, unbiased suggestions. Each chapter stands on its own and can be read stand-alone.
The book is worth an extra star because it deals with problems related to both database's design and application developing; most book out there either cover one or the other.
This should be a mandatory reading for beginner DBAs and application developers, veterans may like it too, since it can help refreshing some concepts and can be used as a reference too.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book for Creating Effecient SQL, August 3, 2010
This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
This book is very unique as far as database design and writing SQL statements. I could be called a 'cookbook' or a 'how-to' book, but its much more than that. The word 'antipatterns' means a way of doing something that is counter-productive in some form or another. So its basically of way to NOT do something. That may seem weird, but if you are aware of ways (patterns) that are ineffective, you will try to avoid those ways and be a more effectve programmer, developer, manager, etc.

There are lots of SQL and Database design books on how to do proper SQL statements but there are very few if any on showing students on what NOT to do with SQL. Its a great way to continue to learn SQL and Database design and advance your skills.

The author does an excellent job in going through all the phases of SQL antipatterns.

1. Rounding errors
2. Phamtom files
3. Index shotgun
4. fear of the unknown
5. random selection
6. spaghetti query
7. sql injection
8. magic beans
9. see no evil
10. ambiguous groups

The names may sound funny, but they are very informative and definitley worth understanding to realy be and efficient database programmer.

A great book and a must buy!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The pitfalls of promiscuity, March 4, 2011
This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
"SQL Antipatterns" by Bill Karwin is a collection of 4~7 page chapters, each neatly organized into:
1) Here's something people often need to do
2) Here's the stupid solution they often come up with
3) Here's why that's a bad idea
4) Here's what you should do instead

The nice, bite-sized chapters along with the "standalone" nature of each are reminiscent of "Effective Java," another favorite.

Among other cuteness, the author refers to foreign keys that relate to multiple tables as "promiscuous"... I give extra points to anyone who can weave a little innuendo into an SQL text.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book after you've mastered the basics, November 1, 2011
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This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
Once you've mastered, or at least think you have, the basics of relational databases, this is a good book to pick up. Karwin goes over the most common pitfalls of SQL database design and programming. As one that frequently has to work with someone else's database design I see these pitfalls over and over again. Some are obvious to any DB programmer worth his salt, some others, not so obvious and still others the subject of religious wars. I didn't agree with all of Karwin's suggestions or even what he identified as antipatterns, but that's fine. I've been using SQL since the 80's and I still learned something from this book. In our office, most of the programmers have to know enough SQL to make simple queries or at least to be able to decipher what some code is doing. This book will help eliminate the part that normally follows "to know enough", that is the "to be dangerous" part.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, July 15, 2011
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This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
I love this book. Would like to see more don't-do-it-this-way books. Some antipatterns seemed obvious to me but there's enough meat in here to chew on for a while.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suited for both your coffee table and technical bookshelf, September 12, 2010
This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
Do you know why polymorphism in the database is bad? Put your hand down if you're a DBA, this is for application developers :)

SQL Antipatterns is written in a very astute fashion and manages to be easy reading without being overly didactic - no small feat for a technical book.

The book is sectioned into the short (~10 pages) chapters, one for each antipattern. Each chapter is structured as such:
- intro context, often humorous
- OBJECTIVE/PROBLEM you're trying to accomplish/solve
- Antipattern that is a common pitfall
- How to recognize that pattern
- Legitimate uses of that antipattern
- Solution (the correct one) for your original OBJECTIVE/PROBLEM

One previous reviewer mentioned that the book covers relative basics for an experienced DBA or developer. Indeed, even if you've been developing for a short period chances are you've seen and/or know of maybe half of the antipatterns in this book. But I'd like to point this out: it's been my observation that experts in any field revel in reviewing the basics, even if just for fun. And this book is fun to read, which is why I suggest this could work just as fine on the coffee table as casual reading as it can on the bookshelf as a technical reference.

My only constructive criticism is that I wish there was more content. Database good practices is a very expansive subject, and as I was reading the book I couldn't help but wish the author was "building up to the good stuff" as some other PragProg books do. This book is reasonably priced so it remains good value, but if it was $40+ I might have gave it four stars instead of five for this reason.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book For Learning Database Trouble Areas, July 27, 2010
By 
Dan McKinnon (Tewksbury, MA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
Having been a database developer for nearly 10 years, I have learned the trouble areas that we can get into and wished that I had a resource like SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming long ago.

From dealing with SQL injection to learning how to store data in a more logical way to many other goodies of database programming that will help you from falling on your face, this is a great text. It's also a niche market that I haven't seen in other SQL/database books in the past.

Keeping that in mind, this is by no means a SQL reference book. This is for the experienced database developer/admin that wants to improve their skillset, not learn how to write basic SELECT and UPDATE queries.

Great book!!

***** RECOMMENDED
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent read, basic but very practical, September 2, 2012
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This review is from: SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming (Pragmatic Programmers) (Paperback)
Very easy read with good format. The book was more novice than I was hoping, overall, but I found a good chapter or two.

My biggest gripe is the application development chapter. The author likely should have stayed away from this topic altogether as the book just sort of bottoms out at this point. This chapter left much to be desired as far as application development principles and anti-patterns go. It wasn't that the points were not good, they were just intern / 101 level concepts that belong in an application development book. I would have never guessed the book would end on MVC.

All that being said, this is a must read for intern - junior developers everywhere, both database and application developers alike.
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