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Database programming books
December 28, 1999
Week: 12 All time: 15
manuellemos.netMySQL is one of the most popular database server products being used on the Web, if not the most popular at least among PHP developers. The fact that it is very fast and inexpensive are probably the most important reasons for MySQL's popularity.
MySQL is also the name of Paul DuBois' book. It talks about almost everything developers want to know about this fine database server and probably also about things that you would like to know but you were not aware.
This book is recommended for developers with a wide range of skills. It uses a language that is easily understandable by beginners and covers subjects that help them get started not only with MySQL but also SQL and database programming in general.
There is an appendix of particular importance for beginners that covers many issues related with the installation of MySQL to work with either PHP or Perl running under either Unix (Linux) or Windows. Another useful appendix provides guidelines on how to find and choose a Internet Service Provider that may host your MySQL databases online.
More experienced developers can also make good use of this book. Most Web developers only got into database programming because many of the possible Web applications require a database behind them to store relevant data persistently. The basics of database programming are not hard to learn and understand, but to take the most of a database server, developers have to be skilled enough to make plenty of design and installation decisions that frequently are not easy to figure without good database programming classes and much practice.
This book comes with an excellent chapter on query optimization. It provides only trivial recommendations like those about index creation but also other not so trivial recommendations including many of them that are MySQL specific and you probably would not learn about them in more general database programming books.
This chapter also covers other advanced performance tuning related aspects like: understanding MySQL optimization techniques, choosing database table field types to improve query efficiency, bulk loading a database efficiently, scheduled data access and locking issues and aspects related with the installation that may be optimized with proper care.
Other chapters more oriented to experienced developers cover administration issues like: database installation, backups, security, maintenance and accidental damage repair.
The most important aspects of the book that take a great part of its extension are about database programming, but the aspects that probably matter most are those that concern the language that you use to access and manage data in a MySQL server.
The programming languages that are covered are: C, Perl and PHP. The chapters that address these languages are extensive, but to speak only about the chapter dedicated to PHP along with another PHP MySQL programming reference appendix these are probably the most important chapter in the book for those that are willing to learn MySQL database programming with in practice.
It covers everything that matters and the example source code that is presented along this chapter is very helpful. It is only a shame that the book does not come with CD or a diskette with all the source code ready to be copied and pasted in the readers favorite programming editor. But that is nothing that can not be added in future editions maybe along with archives of MySQL, PHP and maybe a Web server ready to be installed to help beginners get started faster. Anyway, you may find the examples of the book online at: http://www.mysql.com/Contrib/Examples.
Overall this is an outstanding book not only for MySQL programmers, but also for developers of database backed Web applications in general. Despite this review is already quite long, it does not cover all the important aspects of the book. The final recommendation is that if you are onto MySQL programming, you certainly will make good use of this book and if it is not yet in your shopping list, now is a good time to order it.
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