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The Practical SQL Handbook: Using Structured Query Language (3rd Edition) Paperback – October 14, 1996

55 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0201447873 ISBN-10: 0201447878 Edition: 3rd

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Editorial Reviews Review

This superb text explains Structured Query Language (SQL) simply without being condescending and deeply without being obscure. From its early chapters about relational database theory to its superb coverage of transaction management, this book is informative and easy to follow.

The authors begin by explaining how to design efficient data structures, an important part of database management. From there, they discuss how to populate a database with pieces of data and then explain how to construct queries that extract needed information. Throughout, the text is filled with statements, code, and output--and even common SQL errors. You ought to be able to follow along on any ANSI SQL 92-compliant system as you read this book.

Later chapters cover reports, joins, views, subqueries, and security. The authors explain each from a practical point of view. A section on common business-database tasks (how to specify decimal precision, for example) confirms this point of view. A good glossary exists in the back of this book, and a comprehensive table documents the differences among Sybase, Microsoft, Informix, and Oracle SQL command sets. The companion CD-ROM contains the Sybase SQL Anywhere Studio software, which ordinarily requires a 15-megabyte download marathon. --David Wall

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson Education; 3 edition (October 14, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201447878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201447873
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jason T Rath on December 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
SQL appears simple, but can easily confuse a beginner. This book has excellent examples of SQL-92 to demonstrate effective SQL commands for the major RDBMSs. It also shows common mistakes and how to avoid them. There is a lot of hand-holding throughout the book, and I found the explanations deliberate and well thought out. But it is not padded with fluff. I've seen books twice as thick and half as effective. Good definitions, queries and results. Topics covered include database design, creating and filling a database, selecting data, sorting, grouping, joins, subqueries, views, an overview of security, transactions, performance, and integrity, real world business problems, and how to avoid mistakes. I read it cover to cover twice and practiced the examples (except the views, which you can't use with the included Sybase SQL Anywhere). This book lays a good foundation to build upon. Possible follow-up books include "Introduction to SQL" by Rick van der Lans (published 1999) and "Joe Celko's SQL for Smarties" by (guess who) (publ. 2000). Good luck!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Music Critic on March 11, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've been using different dialects of SQL for about 6 years now and I've found this book to be a very good resource. If you use SQL enough, you will probably eventually want to get a more advanced book (such as one by Celko), but this book will take you far. It starts off with basic information on relational databases, ER diagrams, and normalization, and, maybe best of all, throughout the book are numerous and clear examples. It pretty much uses one example database for most examples, and it explains the layout of that database at the start. Also, the book is very good about showing where certain details differ between SQL-92 and popular SQL implementations, such as SQL Server (Sybase and Microsoft), SQL Anywhere, Informix, and Oracle PL/SQL. The examples very carefully and very clearly step through potentially confusing areas such as subqueries and existence checking. The emphasis throughout is on - as stated in the title - practical SQL. In summary, I think this book is an excellent learning tool and a good desktop reference.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "schapel" on October 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you know nothing about databases, this book is a great place to start. It explains what a relational database is, how to design and create one, and how to perform updates and queries. It covers just about everything you'll need to know, such as normalization, outer joins, security, and transaction processing. Even though the book sticks with the basics, it covers everything that most SQL programmers will need to know.
One weakness of the book is that it doesn't distinguish which features are part of SQL-89, which are part of SQL2 (aka SQL-92). For some features, such as outer joins, implementation-specific syntax is given without the standard SQL syntax. Because of this, it may be more difficult for readers of this book to write SQL that will work on many different databases.
An important thing to note about this book is that it covers only SQL. That means it doesn't cover stored procedure dialects, embedded SQL, or SQL APIs such as ODBC, JDBC, or DBI. If you're going to actually use SQL, you'll need another reference that explains how to interface with a SQL database.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By joe_n_bloe on August 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Trying to find a good book on SQL is really tough. One test is whether the author can explain normalization in a way that is (a) understandable to the book's lay audience, (b) mostly accurate, and (c) mostly devoid of references to relational formalism (which is "relatively" hard even for C.S. majors to grok). The Practical SQL Handbook passes that test. Many don't. (I venture to say that most don't.)
The Practical SQL Handbook is a good tutorial and "cookbook" of--as advertised--very practically oriented SQL. It won't turn you into a database designer. But on the other hand it won't severely mislead you either. It will certainly give you every opportunity to learn the basics of SQL and a bit more, and it does so with a friendly and straightforward style.
I don't think this is a brilliant book, but many competing books are awful. I'd give it 4 stars on an absolute scale, but for its relative merit, it gets a full 5.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have been programming for over 15 years, and I have never had the need to venture into the world of SQL, until early 2001. At that time I started looking for a basic book to help me understand the SQL syntax. I finally purchased this book in Jan 2002; by this time I had a rough understanding of SQL, but would have been hard pressed to write any useful statements. I typically used Access to create the statement and then copied it into my code.
After reading this book I feel able to write most any SQL statement, and to be able to understand the current ones in the code. I also found the answer to several syntax problems that I had: why I would get an error with an SQL statement the had a aggregate function and I was trying to select a column value as well. I would recommend this book to any beginner who needs to have a better understanding of SQL.
The only draw back, for me, was that the book concentrates on the SyBase version of SQL; however, there is a chart in the back of the book that list syntax for four different version of SQL: SyBase, Microsoft, Informix, and Oracle.
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