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Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL: From Novice to Professional [Paperback]

Richard Stones , Neil Matthew

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Book Description

April 7 2005 1590594789 978-1590594780 2

PostgreSQL is one of the world’s most popular Open Source relational database systems. It is renowned for its wide range of capabilities, and its ability to perform functions not available in other databases. The forthcoming release of  PostgreSQL 8.0 in late 2004/early 2005 will include major revisions, such as Win32 Native Support, and this book will provide the tools for anyone making the transition or learning about PostgreSQL for the first time.

This book introduces readers to many of the most prominent features, simultaneously introducing key relational database design and management principles that will help the novice reader effectively manage their data-driven application.

Over 150 pages of coverage is devoted to the most popular PostgreSQL APIs, including PHP, Perl, Java and C. Users of all levels will appreciate the 50 pages of condensed reference material covering PostgreSQL data types, syntax, the psql client, and large object support.

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About the Author

Richard Stones graduated from university with an electrical engineering degree, but decided software was more fun. He has programmed in a variety of languages, but only admits to knowing VB under duress. He has worked for a number of companies, from the very small to the very large, in a variety of areas, from real-time embedded systems upward. He is currently employed by Celesio AG as a systems architect, working principally on systems for the retail side of the business. He has co-authored several computing books with Neil Matthew, including Beginning Linux Programming, Professional Linux Programming, and Beginning Databases with MySQL.

Neil Matthew graduated with a degree in mathematics from the University of Nottingham in the UK and has been using and programming computers for over 30 years. Neil has used just about every flavor of UNIX since 1978, right up to today's Linux distributions. He has co-authored several computing books with Richard Stones, including Beginning Linux Programming, Professional Linux Programming, and Beginning Databases with MySQL.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.7 out of 5 stars  23 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful, but has limitations March 5 2007
By One more opinion - Published on
This book would be better labeled "Beginning Databases with Postgresql - From Novice to Amateur with a few Provisos."

This book is good for getting you to the stage where you have some basic confidence in using PostgreSQL (an excellent database). Do NOT expect to be able to learn what it is you are learning Postgres for without a great deal of googling, hanging out on the #postgresql irc channel (hint: type ?? and topic, VERY useful), searching the mailing list archives, reading the online documentation (which is very useful), and of course, liberal use of \? and \h in psql.

After you have some basic familiarity with Postgres you will still use Matthew and Stones from time to time, looking up syntax etc. For that it is useful.

One of the most annoying things is that it promotes bad database design through the "bpsimple" and "bpfinal" sample databases. Anyone using such a database would be constantly having to clean out garbage data in their database. Take for example their customer table. Their only unique constraint is the primary key, customer_id. If they don't have either a multiple column primary key or some other unique constraint, they will constantly be getting duplicate customers.

At least when I was learning MS Access the books I used taught me good principles such that I am not having to deal with duplicate values years later.

Unfortunately due to the dearth of Postgresql books this is still one of the better offerings. I would give it 3 stars if there was more competition.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars learn general SQL April 25 2005
By W Boudville - Published on
The book serves two audiences. One is those seeking to learn SQL. The other is those wanting to learn Postgresql. Naturally there is some overlap. But consider the first group. There are indeed several good texts on the theory of relational databases and using SQL to access and change these tables. But the books often deal at an abstract level that does not use a specific SQL implementation. Which makes it very hard to learn SQL. As a practical matter, you need to commit to an implementation, even just as a pedagogic decision. Well, as the authors explain, Postgresql is a good choice. It conforms broadly to SQL92 and is free open source. (The only other major free alternative being MySQL.) After all, you typically can't get onto a free copy of Oracle 10g or IBM's dB2 to learn from.

So just from this standpoint, the book gives you a solid learning experience with SQL. Eminently transportable to a job involving a proprietary SQL, like those mentioned above. Of course, those have unique tweaks. But the methods described here are universal to the field.

Now what if you want to actually learn Postgresql? There are chapters on using it from the command line and so on. The book also devotes a chapter each to getting at Postgresql from C, PHP, Perl, Java and C#. Typically, you are unlikely to need all of these chapters. But it shows the flexibility of the database.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average for Apress April 16 2010
By HugeStakkaBoFan - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This isn't really a bad book, but given the clarity with which PostgreSQL's official (and free) documentation is written, a lot of it also isn't necessary. Sure, it's really thick, but a lot of those pages are dedicated to really ugly screenshots and Windows-specific silliness I'm willing to bet few members of this product's target audience are particularly interested in. There are also entire chapters dedicated to C# and Java APIs which should probably be separate books if they really wanted to do justice to such topics--their inclusion here just feels like pointless filler.

If you have absolutely no idea what SQL is and want to get your feet wet with Postgres, then this is absolutely the book for you. If you have a pretty good idea what you're doing and just want to pick up on some of Postgres' quirks, I'm not too sure you'll be getting your money's worth here. It just tries to cover way too much ground too quickly, and the information ends up getting stretched a little thin.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview of database theory and PostgreSQL use June 25 2005
By Harold McFarland - Published on
Despite the fact that many books claim to be for everyone from the beginner to the professional this book is one of the few that actually hits the mark. Not content to just dive right into PostgreSQL and how to us it, the authors include a lot of database history and theory that is sadly lacking from similar books. But it is not just for beginners. The authors include more advances sections on things like accessing the database using C, PHP, Perl, Java, and C#.

Between this beginning user and advanced user level the authors fill in all the intermediate parts so the book ends up providing a well-organized education from the principles of database design through database setup, query, ODBC access setup, and using a programming or scripting language to accessing and updating the database. The book also includes detailed information on selection procedures, data manipulation, functions, stored procedures, triggers, and PostgreSQL Administration. As a result you end up with a book where the database theory applies to all relational databases and as it becomes more technical in nature it moves from there to information specific to PostgreSQL for the advanced user, administrator, or programmer. Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL, Second Edition is highly recommended to anyone interested in using this particular SQL engine.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book May 16 2006
By Guillaume Lelarge - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I ordered this book because bundled it with « Beginning PHP and PostgreSQL 8 ». I must admit I was happily surprised. It's definitely more than a copy of the PostgreSQL manual. Explanations are simple to understand.

There's a chapter on database design, something really important to me.

Something that surprises me too is the big part on languages. The PostgreSQL manual focused on C with libpq and there's not much on other languages. This book brings a lot of informations with PHP, Perl, Java, C#.

This book also brings informations on new PostgreSQL 8 functionnalities (tablespace, $$ quoting). Unfortunately, there's nothing on release 8.1 (CREATE ROLE for example).

Finally, a great book to begin with, a reference for the rest of us.

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