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Learning MySQL

Hugh E Williams and Saied Tahaghoghi
Published by O'Reilly Media
618 pages
£ 31.99
Published: 28th November 2006
reviewed by John Collins
   in the March 2007 issue (pdf), (html)

This book introduces the reader to MySQL.

It kicks off with 93 pages about obtaining and installing MySQL on various systems including Linux, WIndows and MAC OS X. Then we have a section about database design before we move on to discuss how to use SQL to perform all the various database operations. Some of the more advanced operations like JOIN and such are explained quite well although the author clearly has his own strongly-held opinions about which are useful and which should be avoided. The coverage of the operations is far from complete, for example he doesn't go into any detail about locking and use of keys isn't very well covered or explained.

The final parts of the book (nearly 200 pages) cover use of the PHP and Perl facilities to access MySQL. In each case he spends several pages teaching you about PHP and Perl before talking about the MySQL facilities available within those languages. There are extensive exercises and examples at the end of each section, some of which read like student exam type questions.

I think the book is good as far as it goes and generally I wish I'd had it to hand when I started using MySQL, but you will obviously need a proper reference manual for MySQL for any serious use. I rather felt that the huge section on obtaining and installing MySQL wasn't necessary in a ``Learning'' book where the ``learner'' will probably start with a system on which it's installed already (most Linux distributions provide it by default) and the introduction to PHP and Perl weren't necessary at all. I think that he would be better referring the user to books which introduce those languages on their own. As a result the coverage of the language facilities for access to MySQL are a bit skimmed over in my view, not even mentioning some facilities in Perl which I use regularly.

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