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Developing Time-Oriented Database Applications in SQL (The Morgan Kaufmann Series in Data Management Systems) Paperback – July 26, 1999
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What is everywhere but occupies no space; can be measured but not seen or touched; can be spent, wasted, or killed, but not destroyed or changed? The simple answer is time, and the relationship between the fourth dimension and data is the foundation for Developing Time-Oriented Database Applications in SQL, a fascinating book by Richard T. Snodgrass.
Anyone who has ever attempted to create or modify a database containing temporal data will appreciate the complexity of the task. Snodgrass's book aims to simplify it by first helping the reader fully understand the concepts involved before covering the SQL code needed to carry out the work. The book is punctuated with interesting information about the measurement of time through the ages, plus illustrative examples of where disaster has occurred following the misuse of time-specific data, and it comes with a free CD-ROM containing example code.
Make no mistake, this book is by no means an easy read. It's complex and very wordy, and non-programmers may get lost in the SQL quite quickly. This aside, it's an informative, well-written attempt to explain a complicated concept. --Steve Russell, amazon.co.uk
"I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in temporal data-either designing and building databases that record information over time, or just understanding the concepts that underlie representing temporal information... an excellent job of organizing and summarizing this important area."
From the foreword by Jim Gray, Microsoft Research
"a long time in the making, not only because the subject matter can seem overwhelmingly complex if not presented carefully, but also because of the great number of examples that Snodgrass has taken from real application systems and translated into standard SQL..."
From the foreword by Jim Melton, Oracle Corporation
Top customer reviews
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One aspect to the business of temporal data that is not treated in this book (and wouldn't be treated here as the book stands) but is relevant is the interaction between the system and the user. Dealing with temporal data as a designer is a bit of a head-wrecker, pity the poor user! A book outlining best user interface practices for managing, presenting, visualising, expressing the sometimes convoluted concepts in plain domain specific language would be an excellent development to this excellent foundation.
The concepts are themselves quite difficult and challenging, and I would be loathe to even attempt to build a system tracking changing data over time without this book's priceless assistance.
Another reviewer, an instructor, didn't like the book: it is not a tutorial and may be hard to use, understand, or follow if you are not already working on a problem that this book can help you solve.
But if you are involved in creating (say) an insurance application that must handle retroactivity, or a financial system that must be able to re-create an earlier financial report and explain why today's version of Q2 is different from yesterday's, then you NEED this book.
His analogies are "country", but important. It took three settings of an hour each on 10 pages until the concepts really sank in. I have seen these constructs in Data Warehouses, but now I see a future for these in transactional systems.
Every time based system will eventually incorporate these concepts (and new SQL tools) - In particular all accounting systems including banking, brokerage (especially portfolio management), tax accounting.
For example, right now we are working on a system to track and manage vendor problems in a "just in time" manufacturing environment. If our tables had been designed with these temporal concepts, we would be able to more effectively communicate trends to our management users.
Those people who are familiar with these concepts may find it boring, but for those of us learning, I say thank you!
The book is about time-based (really temporal) databases. A temporal database is a fully relational database with some additional features for handling time issues. This is in contrast to object-oriented databases, which are not really very relational at all. The temporal issues can be addressed with existing relational products (Oracle, SQL Server, DB2), though they could be addressed with less effort once new versions of existing products are produced that support SQL3.
The author addresses the temporal additions planned for SQL3 while presenting case studies and explanations as to why these additions would be helpful. There are about a dozen additions, depending on how you count things, ranging from new data types (time with time zone) to new predicates (overlaps).
Even though I have worked with temporal database issues for many years, it was helpful to review the issues from someone else's perspective. Dr. Snodgrass obviously has been working with temporal databases far longer than I have and he has that grasp of the material that comes from mastering a subject. Yet he presents the material in a very readable and understandable way. I found the book both useful and entertaining.
Most recent customer reviews
Hardly an easy read and quite long, but very much worth the trouble to read...Read more