Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL: From Novice to Professional (Beginning From Novice to Professional) 2nd Edition
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The book easily combines several books. An example is the coverage of 5 programming languages at the end. They essentially show you how to write strict, straightforward database code without the help of object relational mapping tools in 5 programming languages.
Chapter 13 and 14 could easily exist in a book called: PostgreSQL Desktop Data Access in C
Chapter 15 would be in a small book called: PostgreSQL Web Data Access in PHP
Chapter 16 would be in a similarly small book called: PostgreSQL Web Data Access in Perl
Chapter 17 would be: Beginning Java Data Access with PostgreSQL
Chapter 18 would be: Beginning C# Data Access with PostgreSQL
Then, there would be a separate book for relational theory and still another book for Quick PostgreSQL administration. Instead, all of that is coherently in one book and written at a very clear readability level. Even if you decide to adopt another database or move into a more recent version of PostgreSQL, this book provides a foundational overview with complete and substantive, practical and useful information that you will emerge out of the exercise much wiser for the effort.
The book is neither an advanced or beginner's book. Rather, it is a book for becoming comfortable enough with PostgreSQL to be generally proficient with that specific tool. However, it over succeeds in that it also broadens the understanding of the uninitiated at such a level that I think they would be comfortable with most mainstream relational databases. You still have to learn more about the topic areas in-depth and gain experience in their use. Yet, there is value in making that process more streamlined by way of a solid, hands-on preview of the areas of activity. In that, I think the book excels above and beyond and I give it 5 stars for that reason. It is a timeless database book that through Linux and PostgreSQL anyone can access database technology and build their knowledge.
This book is not actually as long as it seems. It really ends on page 385 at which point it has a number of useful chapters of the form "Accessing PostgreSQL from <LANGUAGE>." These are helpful in and of themselves but really a different topic. They are followed by a number of very useful appendices.
The general interest database coverage (SQL syntax, normalization, etc) is a bit scatter shot but by no means bad. I'd say the fount sizes on the cover are a good indication of the book's strength: first and foremost Postgres coverage, secondarily an introduction to DBs in general. The Postgres specific coverage is actually very good and will be appreciated by readers of a MySQL blog dominated web.
At this point the book is quite old. The stability of the SQL standard makes the fundamentals are still good; however, the ways in which databases are used, the tools used with those databases and Postgres itself have come a *long* way in 6 years. Seriously think back to a web1.0 world where Windows XP was king...
Bottom Line: p 149-385 are worth a "cover-to-cover" read and the appendicies are a great reference. I'll be on the look out for an edition that covers v9 and is written for the current state of the world.
I installed the database in Arch Linux using pacman. After that, I read Arch's wiki page on postgresql. Next, I started reading the book, and in no time, I had created my first postgresql database, and was querying it.
As others have rightly stated, the book covers both the more or less standard SQL language, while also discussing the quirks with Postgresql. The author gives each a fair balance. That is not to say you won't have to google some things. For instance, I was trying to do a SHOW TABLES; a la MySQL, in postgresql, which returned an error. I had to google that.
Postgresql is at version 9.1 now, but the book covers up to version 8, so keep that in mind. So far, it has not been a problem.
There is no way that any book will really take you from novice to professional in a few hundred pages, but this book has been a nice read.
If you've been in the database world a long time and you want to see what's specific to Postgres then this might not be your book, but if you have dabbled in databases and you want to consolidate your knowledge then this is a very good book to learn from.
I have had this book for almost a year now, and still like it as much as at the start. Not that I use it every day. I've also looked at the official PostgreSQL doc and found that it's got too much detail if you are starting out, but it doesnt have as many links as I would like, so this book fills the need as an introduction
to the various aspects of Postgres very nicely. It's the kind of book you can read when you dont have a computer handy.
The official doc is of course necessary, but serves a different role.