Book review: Murach's SQL for SQL Server
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Title: Murach's SQL for SQL Server
Authors: Bryan Syverson
Publisher: Mike Murach and Associates, Inc.
ISBN: 0890774162
Pages: 574

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Are you a VB, Web or Windows developer? Completely new to SQL programming? Look no further! This book is just for you. "Murach's SQL for SQL Server" is a good first book for anyone interested in learning the basics of SQL programming, and becoming a database developer, or probably move into the role of a database administrator (DBA). Unlike some of the popular T-SQL programming books currently available in the market, this book won't present some of those cool tricks and twisted queries. It will help you get your basics of SQL programming right.

This book is divided into the following four sections:

Section 1: Introduces you to the terms and concepts of the database world, and shows you how to work with SQL Server using the built-in client tools.

Section 2: Shows you how to retrieve data from databases, and how to manipulate data using SQL commands. Also introduces you to different types of joins and query methods.

Section 3: Introduces you the database design concepts, and shows you how to design databases, and implement that design by creating databases.

Section 4: Concentrates on other aspects of databases like views, stored procedures, functions, triggers, cursors and transactions.

The accompanying CD contains SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine (MSDE), SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition's client tools, the databases used in this book, and some of the examples presented in the book.

Another nice thing about this book is that, the page size is big. Pages are broad, and the text is presented in an easy to read manner, making it a pleasant experience to read.

Now let me quickly walk you through the chapters:

Chapter 1: An introduction to relational databases and SQL
Introduces you to client server architecture, relational database model, SQL language and T-SQL commands and database objects.

Chapter 2: How to work with SQL Server database
Starts with an introduction to SQL Server 2000, and shows you how to use tools like Enterprise Manager and Query Analyzer. Also shows you how to use SQL from client side programming languages like VB.Net using ADO.Net.

Chapter 3: How to retrieve data from a single table
Introduces you to SELECT statements, and shows you how to use various parts of SELECT statements (like FROM, WHERE, ORDER BY clauses etc.) to retrieve data from a table, using examples.

Chapter 4: How to retrieve data from two or more tables
Introduces you to joins, and shows you with examples, how to write queries to retrieve data from multiple tables, using inner joins, outer joins, cross joins and union operator.

Chapter 5: How to code summary queries
Shows you how to work with aggregate functions, how to summarize data using GROUP BY (and HAVING clause), ROLLUP and CUBE operators.

Chapter 6: How to code subqueries
Starts with an introduction to subqueries and shows you how to use subqueries in various situations.

Chapter 7: How to insert, update and delete data
Shows you how to create test tables using SELECT INTO command, and also shows you how to insert, update and delete data, using the INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE commands.

Chapter 8: How to work with data types and functions
Starts with a good review of various SQL data types. Shows you how to convert data from one type to another using CAST and CONVERT functions, followed by detailed information and examples on working with string, numeric, date datatypes and the related built-in system functions.

Chapter 9: How to design a database
Introduces you to database design and shows you how to implement data structures and identify key and non key elements. Provides good information on normalizing data structures using first, second and third normal forms. Also talks about denormalization.

Chapter 10: How to create and maintain databases and tables
Starts with an introduction to Data Definition Language (DDL) and shows you how to create and work with databases, tables, indexes and constraints.

Chapter 11: How to use Enterprise Manager
All about using Enterprise Manager! Shows you how to perform various database management tasks using Enterprise Manager, also popularly known as EM or SEM.

Chapter 12: How to work with views
Introduces you to views, and shows you how to create and manage views.

Chapter 13: How to code scripts
Shows you how to use variables, temporary tables, system functions and control of flow language elements, to create scripts using SQL.

Chapter 14: How to code stored procedures, functions, and triggers
Shows you how to create and manage stored procedures. Explains various type of user defined functions and shows you examples of various user defined functions. Has some good information on using AFTER and INSTEAD OF triggers.

Chapter 15: How to work with cursors
Introduces you to various types of cursors, and shows you various examples and cursor processing techniques.

Chapter 16: How to manage transactions and locking
A very good chapter on transactions. Introduces you to transactions, shows you how to manage transactions in your T_SQL scripts. Talks about transaction isolation levels and lock management. Provides you with tips for avoiding deadlocks.

Chapter 17: How to manage database security
Introduces you to SQL Server security model and provides information on users, logins, roles, permissions etc. Shows you how to use Enterprise Manager for implementing permissions and configure security.

As you can see, there is lot of good information in this book for aspiring database professionals. Definitely recommended for anyone interested in moving into the world of databases and especially SQL Server.

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