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Keywords: SQL, databases, MySQL

Title: MySQL Crash Course

Author: Ben Forta

Publisher: SAMS Publishing

ISBN: 0672327120

Media: Book

Level: Introductory

Verdict: If you want to learn SQL and aim to implement your database using MySQL then this is definitely the book to use


Here at TechBookReport we've liked some of Ben Forta's previous books. His 'Regular Expressions In 10 Minutes' and 'SQL In 10 Minutes' are both recommended titles. Both books are concise, readable and excellent value (both in monetary and informational terms). Now, building on the success of the SQL book, Ben Forta has written 'MySQL Crash Course', published by SAMS. The question is, does this book stand comparison to his previous titles?

The first thing to note is that the book is actually aimed at those readers wishing to learn SQL and MySQL. This is an important point to note, because anyone who is already fluent in SQL is likely to find much of the book simplistic or pitched at the wrong level. On the other hand those who are starting out or are rusty, and who want to get to grips with SQL in the specific context of the MySQL are going to find the book well-suited to their needs.

Being a crash course, the book opens with the absolute basics and introduces both the idea of a database and MySQL in particular. Rather than focus on any one operating system platform or graphical front-end to MySQL, the command-line mysqli tool is introduced and used throughout the rest of the book.

The introduction to SQL properly begins with chapter four and the most basic form of the SELECT query. Forta uses short, simple examples to illustrate the topic, moving on progressively over the proceeding chapters to look at ever more complex forms of select queries. Sorting, filtering, grouping and summarising are all explored in some detail. Filtering, for example, looks not just at wild card clauses but also at the use of regular expressions. The text makes clear not just those aspects of SQL which are MySQL-specific, but also discusses issues of performance and those areas where platform-dependencies might arise. Sub-queries and joins are also explored in some depth.

In addition to the querying side of SQL, there's coverage of data insertion, updates, deletions and so on. Database creation and manipulation are also covered.

More advanced topics, such as data views, stored procedures, triggers, cursors and transaction processing also warrant chapters. Again there's good use of code examples to show how to get the best out of MySQL. The final four chapters look at specific operational topics: localisation, security, database maintenance and performance issues.

The appendices which round out the book include an installation guide, details of the sample tables used throughout the text, an SQL syntax guide, a list of MySQL reserved words and a section on datatypes.

The book promises a crash course and that's exactly what it delivers. The depth of coverage cannot compete with a dedicated MySQL technical reference, but that's not what it's aiming to do. The author succeeds in giving a fast, useful and sufficient introduction to MySQL and SQL so that the reader can get up and running quickly.

If you're looking for an in-depth MySQL reference then this isn't the right place to look. But if you want to learn SQL and aim to implement your database using MySQL then this is definitely the book to use.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2006. Published February 27 2006