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Do DBAs Still Read Techincal Books? Expand / Collapse
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2009 1:59 PM
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Do DBAs Still Read Techincal Books?
Post #680969
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2009 6:24 PM



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I fear programmers will miss the big picture that a top-quality book often provides

There're a couple of problems with that statment... first, there are disappointingly few programmers and a lot of folks who think they are. Second, there are very few "top-quality" books out there. Most of them are simple regurgitations of Books Online and maybe a couple of oolies here and there. You mention several authors by name and there are a couple of them who are apparently more enamoured with writting a book than writting a top-quality book about SQL Server. Those authors should take up writting romance novels instead of trying to write anything of technical use or to promulate understanding rather than sometimes rude opinion.

There's also the problem of "lunacy" in many of the books. I'll refrain from identifying the books or the authors who published such lunacy, but I saw one book that talked about creating databases where the author went to some length saying that because SQL Server would automatically grow the files, there was absolutely no need to plan the initial size of a production database. Nowhere did he mention that the default growth patterns would result in 73 disk fragments just growing to a mere 1GB. Several highly respected authors have published ways to do running totals and running counts... and all of them used bloody Triangular Joins and of the ones that even came close to identifying the performance problems associated with such joins, they merely downplayed the problems by saying you have to be careful about how many rows you use it on without any mention to alternatives. And then there're my favorite books on performance tuning... you know... the ones where authors show you how to build a test table... using a &^%^$^##! WHILE LOOP!

Most DBA's I know are really smart cookies. Some of them are Systems DBA's, some are Application DBA's (super Ninja Developers on steroids, really), and some are hybrids. I don't know very many good SQL Server developers, but the ones I do know are absolute Ninja's at their trade as well. When any of those folks see a book with such garbage as what I've described in it, they're simply not going to buy it. When they see a book written by a frustrated romance novelist instead of a pro who's "been there", they're just not going to buy it.

The rest of the folks I know that are (still trying) to be DBA's or SQL Developers really don't give a rat's patooti as to whether they do a good job or not. I've had two developers (God, I really hate to call them that... it's an insult to good developers) with MS certs as DBA's and they had zero interest in improving what they called "skills" even though they couldn't program their way out of a wet paper bag nor hit the ground with their hat when it came to tuning the server never mind indexes.

Top that off with the fact that the really good DBA's are more interested in Books Online and the technical manuals that came with their servers and SANs, and you just don't have much of a market for DBA books. Add to that that you can't cut and paste from hardcopy and, unless a book comes with a CD that no one ripped off, it's just easier to get the information you need from the internet.

I do have one book that I refer newbies to and will let them borrow with some great threat that assures it's safe return because it's way out of print and I'm not sure you can even get it anymore. It's the old MCSE book on Implementing SQL Server 7.0 and, no, the new books carrying a similar name are garbage compared to that old book.

As a side bar... I think that it's a real shame that, IMHO, there are no good books on SQL Server. Sure, many of them have their high spots but, for the most part, the garbage and the unnecessary rhetoric in them make them all very not worth while spending between $40 and $100 bucks for. And, to be sure, I'm not singling out any of the authors on that... heh... I think they're all a huge let down for one reason or another.

--Jeff Moden
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Post #680999
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2009 8:15 PM

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Just bought - 3. Happy with - 0.

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Post #681010
Posted Sunday, March 22, 2009 6:13 AM


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The 4-volume series titled "INSIDE MICROSOFT SQL SERVER 2005" by Kalen Delaney et al. is probably one of the better publications out there. I have learned and I'm still learning a whole lot from these books. I'm not looking for perfection - these books were written by humans, not God. What I'm looking for is insight into sql server concepts that will complement BOL, and other online info. And that these books provide.

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Post #681062
Posted Sunday, March 22, 2009 7:21 AM



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I've got a small collection of SQL books (10 in total). Disclaimer: Some were given to me by their authors, some are to be given away at usergroup meetings.

These aren't 'beginner's guide to T-SQL' books, I go for the advanced internals-style books more than anything. About half of them I've read cover-to-cover, the rest I reference from time to time. I've learnt something from all of them. I'm not saying there's an earth-shattering revelation on every page. I wouldn't expect that. I'm also not saying that I don't sometimes question what the author says. When reading any book, one should always question what the author says.

Two that I've found particularly valuable are the last book of the Inside SQL Server series - Query Tuning and Optimisation, and SQL Server 2005 Practical troubleshooting.
The first I value because of the deep coverage of tracing, the query optimiser and the procedure cache. The second, edited by Ken Henderson and written by members of the SQL dev team and CSS, is awesome because of its walkthrough of technical problems that you hope to never personally encounter

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Post #681077
Posted Sunday, March 22, 2009 9:44 AM


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Books are something I still cherish. As a dinosaur (57 as of last Friday), I still find a good much more user friendly. And for a long time there was in Montreal a book store called Camelot. It stocked much more books than the mere Idiot's Guide To ...They were not shrink-wrapped and you could leaf through them. Alas the place shut down 3 years ago.

Kalern Delaney's book on SQL Server 2000 got me started. As a beginner in SQL Server, I found it helpful in spite of the nuisance factorials example to show how recursion works.

I also have the SQL Serving tuning book Gila mentioned.
Post #681095
Posted Sunday, March 22, 2009 11:10 AM



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I can't comment as to the joins used in code for some of the books as Jeff, and I'll defer to him. Maybe we can get him to write a book...... ;)

In any case, I do skim books at times to learn something. The Wrox SSIS book I've used as a quick overview because I like the books at times. They're slightly more organized, and better checked than many articles on the Internet.

That being said, I think most of the books that come out are thrown together quickly, with multiple authors, and they don't flow well, nor are they very well written. I think most of the exam and beginner books are the same for 90% of the material, and they organize your learning, and that's it.

I think Kalen's, Itzik's, and Ken Henderson's books were very well written. However I'm not overly partial to too many others.

I think I like seeing shorter books, taken on my smaller publishers that focus on one topic. I learned a few things from Grant Fritchey's short one on Execution Plans, and was surprised to do so.

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Post #681115
Posted Sunday, March 22, 2009 11:45 AM
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The first accessible book on SQL is still the best - Kalen's "Inside SQL", all additions.
Post #681125
Posted Monday, March 23, 2009 1:06 AM
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Elmasri/Nawathe: Fundamentals of Database Systems. An excellent guide into the relational theories and techniques. Read it first time almost 20 years ago. Very comprehensive, yet easy to understand.
Books like these should be mandatory read not only for DBAs, but also for developers writing SQL.
Post #681243
Posted Monday, March 23, 2009 6:45 AM

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One generic book that I have kept around is Database Management and Design by Hansen & Hansen - 1996. It's a little out of date on some stuff but covers the basics very well.

I also agree on Kalen Delaney's Inside SQL # books.

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