Book Review of SQL Server 7: A Beginners Guide by Dusan Petkovic

It is very difficult when trying to learn a new technology, to figure out what books are out there that may be of help. Making a list of what concepts you want to learn about will surely help. However, even if you spend an hour or so leafing through books armed with your list at your local book store, you really don’t know if the book will help until you sit down and really work with it. This requires a real investment in time. Time which is really precious to you and you would hate to waste. I am happy to say that this book in general really does what it sets out to do and that is to give a good overall introduction to the capabilities of SQL Server 7 and Transact-SQL.

The book is divided into 5 parts. The introduction presents us with the schema and data for a small database that will be used to demonstrate many of the concepts developed later in the book. Part 1 reviews Basic concepts that are discussed more fully in later parts of the book. It is also introduces you to the Enterprise manager and Query Analyzer tools which will be used to demonstrate the examples.

Part 2 reviews the Transact-SQL language. This part gives a comprehensive beginners overview of T-SQL. It reviews the 3 components of SQL DDL ( data definition language), DML ( data manipulation language), and DCL ( data control language), as well as T-SQL extensions to the SQL langage. In my opinion ,the key to learning a technology is trying out as many examples as possible. This part will not disappoint you in this regard. There are loads of examples for you to try out. It is well worth the time to key in the examples in order to learn how T-SQL works.

Part 3 covers System Administration and Part 4 covers Microsoft Decision Support Servers (i.e. Data Warehousing). These two parts give you enough of an overview to make you realize that if you are planning to be a DBA or a Data Warehouser than you need to go out and get much more detailed books on these subjects in order to master them.

There is no CD provided with the text. This forces you to key in all the examples by hand. While this is a good idea anyways, it would be nice to have the CD to check any errors that you might have keyed in. There is an sql script file that you can download from the Osborne Web Site with the schema and data in it. There is a small mistake in one of the sets of data where the value should be the Null value but instead you have a character string “NULL” instead. This will cause some grief when running some of the examples and the outputs don’t match. I have noticed that the new version of this book does include a CD.

Despite the few flaws I found in this book, I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get a solid introduction to SQL Server 7 and especially T-SQL.

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