20 May 2007

Review Mastering Oracle SQL 2nd Edition

Mastering Oracle SQL 2nd Edition by Sanjay Mishra and Alan Beaulieu

The goal of the authors is to explain how to write good readable SQL queries in Oracle 10g. The book starts with how to construct SELECT statements to group, filter and format result sets for dates, reports and data analysis. Then it proceeds to cover Oracle-specific queries and functions for hierarchies (data in tree structures), object-oriented types, XML documents, regular expressions and models (spreadsheet-like objects). Where relevant, there are notes about the differences between SQL for Oracle 10, Oracle 9 and the ANSI standard.

As expected from the title, the chapters using declarative programming (i.e. SQL queries) for relational data, hierarchical data and reports are the most comprehensive. Chapters on interfacing Oracle SQL with other technologies such as scripting (Oracle's PL/SQL), object-oriented types, XML and regular expressions, or on optimization, are brief but sufficient to get you started, especially if you have a existing background in those technologies.

This is the 2nd edition, so it's not surprising that the scope of the book is well-defined and that the writing is easy to read and polished. The example data and queries are just complex enough to demonstrate the issues without obscuring the main points. Minor annoyance about Chapter 15, "SQL Best Practices", which does not explain how to use the query analyzer and bind variables.

I was already familiar with basic Oracle SQL but didn't really understand the language; this book blew away many of the fuzzy concepts in my mind and provided me the framework to tackle more complex problems.