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Keywords: SQL, RDBMS, databases, database query

Title: SQL In 10 Minutes (3rd edition)

Author: Ben Forta

Publisher: SAMS Publishing

ISBN: 0672325675

Media: Book

Level: Beginning, intermediate

Verdict: A superb introduction to SQL. Highly recommended.

SQL, like XML, is one of those technologies that every practising developer ought to know how to use. While the core SELECT commands are relatively easy to pick up from online tutorials, including our own TechBookReport introduction to SQL, there is much more to learn if you want to be proficient. However, most SQL books that we've seen in the past have really been relational database primers in disguise. The emphasis is usually on the theoretical foundations of relational databases, or else they concentrate on database creation and DBA best practice. This little gem, however, clearly avoids these pitfalls and focuses on SQL as 'she is spoke'.

Don't be fooled by the '10 Minutes' claim, this is by no means a light and fluffy 'idiots guide'. This is a well-written and comprehensive introduction to SQL which manages to pack a lot of useful information between it's slim covers. Starting with a very high-level introduction and moving swiftly to the fine details of SELECT queries, filtering, sorting, grouping, joins, transactions and more. It does so in well-paced chunks, and it makes excellent use of examples to illustrate the code. The emphasis is on usage, and this makes the book ideal to have to hand when coding.

The practical orientation of the book means that there is also good coverage of a number of well-known relational database systems, including DB2, MS Access, MS Sequel Server, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL and Sybase Adaptive Server. This coverage means pointing out where implementation differ or functionality is differs from the rest.

What is also worth noting is that the book does much more than look at select queries and joins, which is what most introductory material covers. The book also looks into transaction processing, stores procedures, triggers and other more advanced material. Finally there are a number of appendices which include reference material on SQL syntax and on working with SQL in popular applications. In all the range of topics is excellent and goes above and beyond the call of duty for an introductory volume.

We were suitably impressed by Ben Forta's Regular Expressions In 10 Minutes, we are even more impressed with his SQL book. If you only ever buy one book on SQL it ought to be this one. Very highly recommended.

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