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SQL in a Nutshell (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)) 3rd Edition

4 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596518844
ISBN-10: 0596518846
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

SQL in a Nutshell applies the classic O'Reilly "Nutshell" format to Structured Query Language (SQL), the elegant descriptive language that's used to create and manipulate stores of data. This book explains the purpose and proper syntax of hundreds of SQL statements, as defined in four major SQL implementations, and details each entry with explanatory text and illustrative examples. Perhaps best of all, authors Kevin and Daniel Kline feature MySQL in their coverage, and give it billing that's equal to that of Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, and PostgreSQL. Their inclusion of open-source MySQL, which in most situations carries no license fee, is recognition of its growing popularity and suitability for serious database applications; also, it improves this book's appeal to Unix and Linux developers.

The majority of this slender book comprises eminently useful syntax documentation (which is in the style of Unix man pages, with bracketed options and monospace arguments) and the other information that's specific to individual statements and functions. Additionally, it includes a relatively small amount of conceptual information, such as a section on the proper use of NULL values. The material that's not statement-specific also contrasts data-type implementations of the four covered platforms--for example, readers learn that a PostgreSQL int2 value is known as a smallint in ANSI standard SQL. This is a particularly handy reference book, if you use one of the emphasized SQL implementations. --David Wall

Topics covered: Structured Query Language (SQL), as implemented in Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL, as well as in ANSI standard SQL (SQL92 and SQL99). After an introduction to data types and relational database fundamentals (the latter is not emphasized), the authors document SQL statements and functions, one by one and alphabetically. They take care to point out differences among the four implementations. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

A Desktop Quick Reference Guide

Product Details

  • Series: In a Nutshell (O'Reilly)
  • Paperback: 594 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 3 edition (December 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596518846
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596518844
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #299,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is designed as a reference -- the book that you keep
near your workstation after you learn the basics, because you
haven't got everything memorised yet. It's great for that. I
refer to it when I have a question.
But actually I picked up this book with no prior knowledge of
SQL (except that I knew it was for doing database stuff) and
learned enough to get started in a couple of days. The intro
is great for that.
The great thing about this book is that it covers the four
major SQL implementations in a relatively unbiased fashion.
This is nice because if you switch from one to another you
don't have to go looking for a new book. (Otherwise, you
would; as you will see from reading this book, the various
implementations differ considerably and also differ from
the unimplemented standard, which the book also covers.)
This book is not, and is not intended to be, a tutorial for
people who are utterly unfamiliar with the very concept of
a database, but it's okay to be utterly unfamiliar with SQL.
This book also is not a strategy guide for how to plan and
organise your database; this is an _implementation_ book.
As such, it doesn't cover things like deciding which data
to put in which table, when to create another table and
when to create an entirely separate database, or that sort
of thing. What it does tell you is what query syntax you
need to create and interact with your database, your tables,
and the data in your tables. It also explains datatypes,
because they vary considerably between the different SQL
implementations, and table types and the various attributes
(indeces and whatnot).
Additionally, this book is not a security guide. It does
include information about permissions, but only in terms of
the syntax used, not in terms of strategy.
1 Comment 69 of 71 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I have to question whether any of the other reviewers even looked at the table of contents before purchasing this book:
Chapter 1. SQL, Vendor Implementations, and Some History - a general overview of SQL and where it comes from;
Chapter 2. Foundational Concepts - The general theory behind how a sql works;
Chapter 3. SQL Statements Command Reference - "Quick SQL Command Reference";
Chapter 4. SQL Functions - A standard function reference and vendor extensions;
Chapter 5. Unimplemented SQL99 Commands - commands in the sql standard which aren't implemented by vendors (MS, Oracle);
So as to what it says it covers, it does it quite well. Already being quite familiar with SQl, I still found this book to be useful both as a quick reference to commands as well as for a deeper understanding into how SQL works. This book makes an excellent companion to Transact-SQL Programming, also by Oreilly. If you need a complete SQL reference, get Transact-SQL. If you're looking for a background and introduction to SQL, get this book.
1 Comment 41 of 46 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Expanded 2nd Edition (more than 3x larger!)

fyi ... Amazon is including here reviews from both 1st and current 2nd edition. 1st Edition was a "slim" 224 pages (released December 1, 2000 per Amazon). 2nd Edition is 800 pages (released September 27, 2004 per Amazon). From 224 to 800 pages ... hmmm, quite a change!

Per OReilly.com, current 2nd edition covers commercial RDBMS (Oracle, DB2, and Microsoft SQL Server), and open source implementations (PostgreSQL, and MySQL). fyi, 1st edition did not cover DB2.

2nd Edition is updated to use the most current ANSI standard, SQL2003, as the baseline in comparing each of the RDBMS.

Sample chapter available at OReilly.com. Chapter 4, SQL Functions. As PDF, 28 pages.
1 Comment 18 of 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Contrary to several reviewers, this book is *not* well-suited to its purpose, especially compared to O'Reilly's usual high standards. You often can't find things quickly, and the information is often just not there. This is particularly true of the book's main claim to fame, the myriad of small differences between database products. Some examples: (1) The book explains that some databases use "!=" instead of the standard SQL not-equal operator, "<>". Which databases? Do they support both operators, or just "!="? The book doesn't say. (2a) The book doesn't tell you that MySQL doesn't support subqueries in SELECT statements -- even though there's a subsection on "MySQL Syntax and Variations" for SELECT statements. (And yes, I do need to know -- I'm working on a software product that supports every database in the book plus several others.) (2b) The index has no entries for subqueries under any conceivable heading: queries, nested queries, subqueries, or SELECT. So you can spend quite a long time *trying* to find out which databases support subqueries. (Most do.) (3) The table of contents has a glaring typo, that makes you wonder what else got past the proofreaders and fact-checkers. Chapter 3, "SQL Statements Command Reference" doesn't have sub-headings for individual commands or groups of commands ... except for one: "DROP Statements", which are supposedly discussed for 70 pages, a third of the book. If O'Reilly was in such a rush to get the book out that they didn't notice this, how can you have confidence in the book's accuracy?
1 Comment 25 of 28 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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