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The Practical SQL Handbook: Using SQL Variants (4th Edition) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0201703092 ISBN-10: 0201703092 Edition: 4th

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 4 edition (July 6, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201703092
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201703092
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #519,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Why New Editions? Many things have changed since this book was first published in 1989, and SQL is no exception. The SQL language has expanded tremendously, both in numbers of users and in numbers of commands. Sales of relational databases continue to at a strong and steady rate. When we wrote the first edition of The Practical SQL Handbook, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) had already approved the 1986 SQL standard. The International Standards Organization (ISO) adopted it in 1987. Both ANSI and ISO helped create the 1989 version. The 1986 standards were skimpy, lacking features that most commercial vendors offered. The 1989 standards were more complete, but still left many important elements undefined. For the first edition, we felt we should focus on industry practice: as always, each vendor keeps a wary eye on what the others are doing and makes core offerings similar enough to attract both customers migrating from competitors, as well as new users looking for database systems they can build on. Because of this, we left both the not-quite-jelled ANSI standards and particular vendor implementations to the experts in those fields and concentrated on the common ground: generic or "industry-practice" SQL. Our goal was to offer the intelligent amateur practical information on how to use the actually available SQL of that time. The 1992 ANSI standard (often called SQL-2 or SQL-92) represented a new stage in SQL development. This standard was more comprehensive than the 1989 standard: in written form it contained more than four times as many pages as the earlier version. Database vendors have adopted large parts of the 1992 standard. With the widespread adoption of the SQL-92 standard, the industry practice and the ANSI/ISO standards began to converge.

Despite vendor-specific differences, there is a general, industry-wide core of SQL commands that all users need to understand. Adopting standards doesn't happen overnight; it is a long process. At any point, vendors will have varying levels of conformance and will continue to produce vendor-specific variations. This book aims to give SQL users a mastery of the fundamentals of the language, with a side glance at the specifics of particular implementations.

Changes for Recent Editions The changes for recent editions have been in three areas: to include more real-world examples to emphasize the SQL-92 features that most vendors have implemented to provide software for hands-on practice.

More Real-World Examples In talking to new and developing SQL users, we heard over and over of their need for more examples to follow, change, narrow, and broaden. Accordingly, the bulk of the added material in the second edition consisted of code "recipes." Chapter 11, "Solving Business Problems," is a selection of code samples based on questions and answers that came over popular computer newsgroups. We reproduce interesting problems and solutions in terms of the sample bookbiz database used throughout the book. The chapter includes examples of using the CASE function for conditional logic, formatting results, and finding date data. A few samples fall into a different category. They aren't so much solutions to problems as indications of common errors. They include issues with DISTINCT and misunderstandings of what SQL can do.

Emphasize SQL-92 With the third edition, we revised the book to incorporate the SQL-92 features that most vendors have adopted. These include new datatypes, additions to the CREATE TABLE statement that allow built-in integrity constraints, modifications to the ORDER BY and GROUP BY clauses, the new escape character for the LIKE keyword, and changes to GRANT and REVOKE, among others.

Provide Software for Hands-On Practice With the fully-usable trial version of Sybase's Adaptive Server Anywhere on the CD that accompanies this book, you can run the examples (and your variants) on a PC. We've always felt that the secret to learning SQL is practice. Now you can experiment to your heart's content, trying out code samples with data you know and checking the results to see if they are what you expect. When you're stumped by complicated code, break it into small, meaningful pieces and run them separately to make sure you understand what each segment does. Then put them together in increasingly complex combinations--and have fun! The Sybase Adaptive Server Anywhere software on the CD is a 60-day full-feature version that allows you to create objects as well as query existing ones. ASA is built with an updated version of the bookbiz database: for the fourth edition, we increased book prices and made dates more recent. Also included on the CD are scripts to create the database on ASA (in case you damage the original) and on the other systems discussed in the book.

The Fourth Edition The Practical SQL Handbook fourth edition continues to focus on industry-practice SQL, but the information included is at once more general and more specific than earlier editions. For the fourth edition, we had two objectives: to expand our test base, running the examples on five different database systems to include examples showing vendor-specific differences among systems

Test on More Systems For the fourth edition, all examples were run on five systems (Sybase Adaptive Server Anywhere and Adaptive Server Enterprise, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, Informix), rather than on Sybase systems only, as in the third edition. This expanded test base makes the information more universal. We are no longer limited to what we can explore or verify on a particular system. If an important feature doesn't exist on Adaptive Server Anywhere (ASA, the RDBMS included on the CD), we can show code and results from Oracle or SQL Server.

Show Examples of Vendor-Specific Differences On the other hand, this edition is more specific. It includes information on specific idiosyncrasies of the five SQL dialects, warning readers where to look for differences. In this, it reflects the real world---lots of database users are working with multiple systems, either sequentially or simultaneously. Interesting SQL differences are flagged as SQL Variants, in-text sections that show details on how single and double quotes are used by different vendors, or users added, or outer joins specified. You won't see code for every one of the five systems every time, but you'll get an introduction to the kind of differences that are likely in a particular area.


From the Back Cover

This latest edition of the best-selling implementation guide to the Structured Query Language teaches SQL fundamentals while providing practical solutions for critical business applications. The Practical SQL Handbook, Fourth Edition now includes expanded platform SQL coverage and extensive real-world examples based on feedback from actual SQL users.

The Practical SQL Handbook begins with a step-by-step introduction to SQL basics and examines the issues involved in designing SQL-based database applications. It fully explores SQL’s most popular implementations from industry leaders, Oracle, Microsoft, Sybase, and Informix.

Highlights include:

  • Detailed coverage of SQL commands for creating databases, tables, and indexes, and for
  • adding, changing, and deleting data
  • Using the SELECT command to retrieve specific data
  • Handling NULL values (missing information) in a relational database
  • Joining tables, including self joins and outer joins (ANSI and WHERE-clause syntax)
  • Working with nested queries (subqueries) to get data from multiple tables
  • Creating views (virtual tables) to provide customized access to data
  • Using SQL functions

A bonus CD-ROM contains a time-limited, full-feature version of the Sybase® Adaptive Server Anywhere™ software as well as the sample database, scripts, and examples included in the book.

The Practical SQL Handbook is the most complete reference available for day-to-day SQL implementations.


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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This book was very helpful and clearly written.
J. LoBasso
There are some good ones, however, our favorite being The Practical SQL Handbook (Bowman, Emerson, Darnovsky; Addison-Wesley).
Bill Zhao
I started learning SQL with this book in one of its early revisions and found it to be invaluable.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Steve Knoblock on February 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
What makes this Fourth Edition to the Practical SQL series special is the approach to teaching SQL shared by all the editions in this series. The same statements and queries are covered by many SQL texts, but not with the same clarity or teaching philosophy.
Beginning programmers are often unaware that much of programming goes according to what I like to call "programmer lore." The accumulated tradition of practices that are not written down in any book of algorithms but handed down from programmer to programmer in back rooms and online discussion groups. This largely "oral tradition" that exists within the culture of programming is essential to developing real world applications. This handed down knowledge is essential because most authors follow their own academic interests in the more theoretical while most programmers are too busy to write down daily practice. As the foreword says, the idea for this edition is to reclaim this knowledge and present it as if folk wisdom handed down from a master chef.
I will not delve into the specifics of each chapter or repeat here the SQL concepts taught within, because all SQL books purport to teach the same elements. What makes this book different is the way it follows a set of principles designed to make learning easier.
The explanations are clearly presented in plain language without any unexplained buzzwords or digressions into mathematical theory. With each topic, the author starts with basics then follows through with more advanced concepts in a seamless manner without condescension.
The chapters concentrate on teaching how to do the things everyone needs to do, answering the frequently asked questions beginners have without cutting corners on relational principles.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Michael DeCorte on July 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book came to me with excellent references and I was eager to dive in. I found the book easy to read, and provides a good introduction. It is probably appropriate if you are doing some basic work with an existing database. However I had significant issues:
- many of the examples assume you are using Sybase and won't work on other systems. This bias may come from the tied with Sybase; the book comes with a Sybase CD and two of the authors are from Sybase.
- Attempts are made to point out differences between the various systems, however they seem to have been quickly added to allow for a fourth edition. The added text breaks the flow and adds confusion.
- It lacks the depth for building a database or complex work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By J. LoBasso on September 15, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was very helpful and clearly written. The chapters, while somewhat lengthy, cover the information slowly and in-depth. Computer geeks like myself can pick up this book and get a solid background in SQL without a class or instruction (though this is a textbook for some local classes).

The computer software is a 60 day trial of various SQL tools including SYBase. So many programs were loaded during the typical install it became difficult to decipher which ones were to be used with the text.

There were some editing errors in the book, unusual for a 4th edition and a textbook. So far, none have be of any consequence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lovecraft on August 28, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Our lead DBA told me about this book (an earlier edition) and I bought it over a year ago. Up until Feb. 2006, I had no idea what SQL was. As a tech lover and "sponge of knowledge", I saw a need at my job to take over the ad-hoc report requests that burdened our DBAs. With teachings from them and a 2 day training class I embarked on my query writing adventure. 1.5 years later, I have learned a great deal and use this book about 1x/week! I do not do any programming (I'm a tech analyst) so this book is great for explaining 1) what the command means and 2) how to write it. I work in both Oracle and MySQL and have found that this book pretty much applies to both worlds. My only complaint (and this is SO small) is that sometimes I have very specific questions, like how to limit the row output, and the glossary in the back of the book is not that specific. Other than that, for someone without a programming or DBA background, I LOVE this book! I have even let other analysts in different depts. use it and they have found it helpful as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam on March 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a professional DBA. I started learning SQL with this book in one of its early revisions and found it to be invaluable. In fact, there is a copy sitting on my desk as I write this. I don't us it much any more, but is is an old friend that I still open once in a while.

It is presented in a very instructional format, more like a tutorial than a reference. Well worth the price if you are starting out and want to learn the basics. If you are trying to save a little money, the previous version is a good investment - it's not outdated - and includes most of what this revision does. I think this is probably the best starter book I've come across.

Not as useful for advanced DBA's.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 26, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The best SQL book I've found so far. This is really just an update of "The Practical SQL Handbook" and that's a good thing. These authors do a marvelous job of explaining how to accomplish things with SQL without getting too deep. The writing is at a conversational level ... like you are speaking with a co-worker.

I think the organization of the book makes sense and have had no problems finding answers while jumping around the chapters.

This book has been around for many years (This is the fourth edition) and I can understand why. It is probably all you will ever need.

I also bought "SQL Queries for Mere Mortals". I haven't spent much time with it yet but it seems to be more a textbook to "rev up your SQL with hot licks" in its approach and not as much of a general purpose book like the "Practical SQL Handbook". I think the two of them cover my needs completely.
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