Do DBAs Still Read Techincal Books?

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Do DBAs Still Read Techincal Books?

  • 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

    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.

    Change is inevitable... Change for the better is not.

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)

  • Just bought - 3. Happy with - 0.

  • 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.

    SQL Server 2016 Columnstore Index Enhancements - System Views for Disk-Based Tables[/url]
    Persisting SQL Server Index-Usage Statistics with MERGE[/url]
    Turbocharge Your Database Maintenance With Service Broker: Part 2[/url]

  • 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

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
    We stand on the bridge and no one may pass
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The first accessible book on SQL is still the best - Kalen's "Inside SQL", all additions.

  • 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.

  • 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.



  • I had copies of Ken Henderson's books on my desk at all times. But since I'm not working 2000 any more, I've had to switch to Kalen & Itzik's books (decent despite some critics [cough]Jeff[cough]). I've got a bunch of others on odd topics that I occasionally need some knowledge of, like Compact Edition or Reporting Services, but nothing else on my desk is "well thumbed" except Kalen & Itzik's books.

    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood... Theodore Roosevelt
    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2022 Query Performance Tuning, 6th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • I learned SQL from Paul Nielsen's "SQL Server 2000 Bible", but I have to admit I haven't opened my copy of it in probably 3 years. But, in the first year or two, I refered to it constantly, and it really helped me get started and moving on the right track.

    Are there some points I disagree with currently? Sure. But any time any two people, even experts, talk about ANYTHING, you're going to find something they don't fully agree on.

    But, between that book and Phil and Robyn's workshops on, I learned enough SQL to be able to handle every business-need I've run into yet. Those and that book told me how to pick my tools to get a job done, BOL has the specifics on how to use the tools.

    Property of The Thread

    "Nobody knows the age of the human race, but everyone agrees it's old enough to know better." - Anon

  • Good morning, Tony.

    When you referred to "classic titles turning up quite frequently" for developers, I believe you mentioned authors but not the titles. Would you provide a few of those titles?

    I enjoyed reading your article. I'm a novice developer, and right now am in the Inside Microsoft SQL Server series - T SQL Querying.

    Thanks! 🙂


  • i read 2 types of books:

    books that give you a "helicopter view"and books that dives deep into the material. the latter is the "inside sql server" series.

    the issue with some of the books i got recommended is that they are no longer printed.

    i liked the book transact sql programming from o'reilly. Outdated on the technical part when i read it but i still got some good things from it. things like not using "select *" but columns names for example. a lot of writers take that "knowledge" for granted (and even call you stupid if you dont know 'm) while as a just started dba you simply dont know.

    currently reading "inside microsoft sql server 2005 query tuning and optimization" (got the other 3 also). besides books i received the hint from an experienced dba to visit SQL-Server central 🙂

    and googling, in my opinion, is a nice supplement but not an replacement.

  • I'm ashamed to say that I'm one of the few people at my office that has a bookshelf with domain related books occupying the space. Maybe that's due to the nature of my job as an analyst, configuration specialist, programmer and human ELT machine. I get to figure out how to get the data from the client systems, no matter what their RDBMS vendor or reporting system. :sick:

    So do I read a lot of technical books, manuals, online documentation and blogs? Yes! 😀

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