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What SQL Server Books Do You Recommend Expand / Collapse
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Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 8:01 AM


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Comments posted to this topic are about the item What SQL Server Books Do You Recommend

Brad M. McGehee
Microsoft SQL Server MVP
Director of DBA Education, Red Gate Software
www.bradmcgehee.com
Post #1155669
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 3:09 PM
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You left out of your list what I am beginning to think is one of the biggest impediments to writing and publishing technical books, although it is tangentially related to one of your points, lack of remuneration. I think theft of Intellectual Property is a big and growing threat to publishing technical books. There are pirate sites out there (and you don't have to search long to find them), offering downloadable PDF's of most good technical books. Case in point is my little book on Access (no boos, please, that's not really the point). It was never a big seller, maybe 3,000 copies in six years, but even that little book is available now, as a pirated download on at least two sites I've found. I mean, why would the thieves even bother with something that obscure? But there it is. And no, I won't tell you where to go to get it.

If the publishing industry can't get it's arms around this problem, it's hard to see why anyone would invest hundreds of hours of time to create any technical manual, knowing that within months, or even weeks, it's going to be stolen and given away to anyone who wants to make the effort to find it.

I wish I were wrong, but my gut tells me otherwise.

George Hepworth
Post #1155725
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 4:06 PM


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George Hepworth (8/7/2011)
You left out of your list what I am beginning to think is one of the biggest impediments to writing and publishing technical books, although it is tangentially related to one of your points, lack of remuneration. I think theft of Intellectual Property is a big and growing threat to publishing technical books. There are pirate sites out there (and you don't have to search long to find them), offering downloadable PDF's of most good technical books. Case in point is my little book on Access (no boos, please, that's not really the point). It was never a big seller, maybe 3,000 copies in six years, but even that little book is available now, as a pirated download on at least two sites I've found. I mean, why would the thieves even bother with something that obscure? But there it is. And no, I won't tell you where to go to get it.

If the publishing industry can't get it's arms around this problem, it's hard to see why anyone would invest hundreds of hours of time to create any technical manual, knowing that within months, or even weeks, it's going to be stolen and given away to anyone who wants to make the effort to find it.

I wish I were wrong, but my gut tells me otherwise.

George Hepworth


I actually intended to include the theft of intellectual property in my list, but I forgot. Thanks for reminding me.


Brad M. McGehee
Microsoft SQL Server MVP
Director of DBA Education, Red Gate Software
www.bradmcgehee.com
Post #1155729
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 5:46 PM


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I don't recommend any books on Sql Server; I don't think I've ever read one, and it wouldn't be ethical to recommend something I've never read. There are several reasons why I haven't read such books (not listed in order of importance, by any means):

1) I was reasonably fluent in SQL and relational algebra and relational theory a long time before SQL Server existed. I had had technical control of the design and implementation of a relational calculus based language (big research project) which was actually declarative (except for the transaction construct), had collaborated with Oracle and worked with Ingres and with Postgres, and had worked with a consortium of European companies on proposals for enhancements to SQL, before my first contact with SQL Server.
2) The concepts and good practises of administration (ensuring reliability, security, recoverability, adequate performance) are mostly independent of the particular dbms system, so I didn't see any reason to read a book as opposed to consulting the excellent reference material provided as BoL (and other bits of the MSDN library).
3) I prefer reading the sort of material I used to find in research reports from various companies and universities, in Sigmod conference proceedings (and VLDB, and others) and in journals like ACM ToDS to reading the sort of rubbish that finds its way into most text books, whether vendor/platform spacific or generic.
4) Text books were/are a silly price, unless one steals them (which would be against my principles). This is I think caused by (a) very low sales volumes (compared with pulp fiction, fo example) and (b) very rapacious publishers ((b) is also a significant cause of high piracy levels and lousey author remuneration).
5) I found that SQL Server, apart from bizarre idiocy here and there (much of that inherited from the SQL standard, which is in some ways an appalling mess) was quite sane and rational in its design and user interfaces, it was easy to build a mental model of what it did and how it did it that would enable one to get by without too much time checking the reference material.
6) When caught by the absence of information in MSDN (frighteningly frequent) I found that there was plenty of information on the web, some of it was actually correct, and the incorrect stuff was usually easy to spot (usually, not always - which is, unfortunately, inevitable; actually the general standard is about the same as the general standard for textbooks).
7) I had found other database textbooks painful; some were offensively inaccurate; some were putting more effort into grinding axes (conveying author prejudices) than conveying useful information; some had clearly suffered no proof reading, or perhaps proof reading by people who neither knew the subject nor spoke English (this was an amazing contrast to maths textbooks, which tended to be far better proofed); some were grinding commercial axes (designed to boost one DBMS product and malign others); and most appeared to be aimed at cramming low-value short-life transient information about the vagaries of a particular releas of a particular product, rather than explaining the ideas behind the product and how to use it to best effect. So I expected SQL Server text books to be the same, and never read any.

I think reasons 2,4,5,6, and 7 probably apply to most people (1 or something analagous applies to a lucky few, of which I am fortunate to be one; and 3 is purely a matter of personal taste). And for me, these reasons have over-ridden my preference for a real paper book that I can read curled up in an armchair or streched out on the grass or on a bed or in a bath (even though I still buy real paper books on maths, and physics, and languages, and dictionaries, and music, and pretty much everything else: just not database textbooks) when something strike my fancy.


Tom
Post #1155744
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 6:09 PM


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I was in the middle of a huge rant on books but see that George and Tom covered some good amount of what I had to say on this subject. Anything I might add would be more of an ad hominem attack on the attitudes I perceive most SQL Server or SQL authors to have, so I'll just let all of that go.


--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

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Post #1155748
Posted Sunday, August 7, 2011 6:31 PM
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Wouldn't another factor in the lessening of books on sql be that it's a mature technology, which hasn't changed all that much in 30 years?

I mean really, select-from-where-groupby is the bulk of it. Sure there's a jillion fine points like clustering, replication, and what-not. And numerous incremental sexy additions like merge, etc.. But the bulk of what's needed for day-to-day work can be perfectly well picked up from a sql book 30 years old, and a month or two of hands-on cussing.

Just one factor among several, I would think.
Post #1155752
Posted Monday, August 8, 2011 1:06 AM
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As previously stated i'm not a big fan of books, not necessarily due to their inaccuracies at times or because i know that subject well enough to not have to have a book on it, but purely because i don't like having to carry more than i need to around with me as i spend a lot of time travelling.

I can't discount books like others have said purely on their inaccuracies because not everyone is perfect and even microsoft get it wrong - take BOL as an example, there's been many a time when they've got it wrong and later changed what was printed.

The only book i have bought recently is Glenn Berry's SQL Server Hardware and so far a lot of it is confirmation of what i already knew but i have leant a few things, even just simple things like what model numbers of the processor families actually mean, for me this has made it worth the £13 i paid for it.


Chris

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Post #1155848
Posted Monday, August 8, 2011 2:29 AM


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For me a book is very good if you want something to take you all the way through a subject. For this you accept whatever slant is applied to the material by the author.

This is fine but rarely (now I have a fair bit of experience) do I want to be taken all the way through a subject. I might be interested in a chapter or more likely a few pages of a book or a particular technique. Does this mean I have lost the focus required to go through a book on a whole subject? Well, no I hope, however it is just not relevant to my job where I know most of what I want to accomplish, but extend my reach a little bit. The bite size chunks of teh interwebz are sadly mostly exactly what I need.

In summary, books are just not relevant to what I need to do with databases.
Post #1155871
Posted Monday, August 8, 2011 3:28 AM


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Definitely recommend this book (Defensive Database Programming) to anyone. I think that book is for begginers and for professionals . Also I recommend a set of seven "The Best Off SQLservercentral.com" books.

For All begginers also I recommend monitoring sqlservercentral.com forum and articles, is more informative than books.

For my 25 years of SQL practice I must say that sqlservercentral.com is the best source of SQL knowledge of sql servers and programming sql.
Post #1155887
Posted Monday, August 8, 2011 4:02 AM
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I would always recommend the "Inside SQL" series books.. though it is not intended to be for the beginner, it still helps to understand many topics related to SQL server theoretically.
Post #1155899
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