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MySQL Cookbook

Paul Dubois
Published by O'Reilly Media
948 pages
£ 35.50
Published: 5th December 2006
reviewed by Lindsay Marshall
   in the March 2007 issue (pdf), (html)

Forget Delia or one of the Grigsons, this is Mrs Beeton. It's huge -- Harry Potter size (though well written and with a much better story), in fact it weighs 1.565Kg (55.2oz) according to my kitchen scales. There is some ``egg boiling'' material in here such as the material on connecting to databases, which is covered for each of Perl, Ruby, Python, PHP and Java, but this is not really the reason for the size. The real reason is that each ``recipe'' is detailed and illustrated by examples of queries and outputs, which just take up a lot of space -- all that verbose SQL and tabular output.

The recipes cover everything from string and date handling, through JOINs up to using stored procedures. And even the ones that seem to be quite basic often contain a useful tip or some wrinkle that you might not have known about. I found the section on finding and eliminating duplicates most useful as that is something I always struggle with when I have to do it. I was going to say that I found the web specifc material in the final chapters not particularly useful, but as I looked through them I got sucked in by some very neat ideas -- this does tend to happen throughout: your eye gets caught by something and you're off.

I suspect that even SQL experts will get something from this book. People like me who are only just starting to be happy with joining a couple of tables will learn a lot, or at least will have somewhere to look for the answers to their problems. The book is quite pricey, and it is likely that equivalent material is available for free scattered throughout the net, but it is probably worth the expense just to have it all in a concentrated form for quick and easy reference. And it will certainly stop stuff from blowing around on your desk when someone opens the window.

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