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SQL in a Nutshell (In a Nutshell (O'Reilly))

Kevin Kline, Daniel Kline and Brand Hunt
Published by O'Reilly Media
ISBN: 978-0-596-51884-4
591 pages
£ 31.99
Published: 2nd December 2008
reviewed by Raza Rizvi
   in the March 2009 issue (pdf), (html)
bookcover  

At the outset I have to say that I cannot claim to have read this book from cover to cover. As the author(s) freely state, this is a reference work and not something designed to teach SQL or database design, other than a very brief explanation of the syntax. It is a very comprehensive reference work covering every command in the SQL2003 standard as implemented in the most popular web databases (MySQL, Postgres, Microsoft SQL, and Oracle). That is every command, with every nuance and every variation in those 4 database implementations as well as the standard.

So then this is not a book for anyone working with just a single database, nor for those starting out with database development where other O'Reilly texts can provide the background and context in which the SQL commands are best used. It is definitely a boon for web programmers, contractors, and for those people migrating from one platform to another. To have the definitions of the operators to hand, with inline code snippets, and sensible descriptions is great, but to have it for multiple implementations is a work of genius and obvious sweat.

The author(s) clearly mark important points (like permission persistence after a REVOKE in MySQL, or case sensitivity options for searches in the SELECT WHERE clause), and you can see the overall divergence from the standard in a summary table at the start of chapter 3 (which deals with the command reference and makes up some 400 pages of the book). Platform specific extensions are included in chapter 4.

If you have to work with more than one database implementation, you really should end up with a well-thumbed copy of this book on your desk if you take any pride in your work.

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