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Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL: From Novice to Professional Paperback – Sep 6 2007
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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 Visual Basic 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 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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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