Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Book Review: Pro SQL Server 2005 Database Design and Optimization

Pro SQL Server 2005 Database Design and Optimization
By Louis Davidson, Kevin Kline, Kurt Windisch
ISBN: 1590595297
672 pp.
Published: May 2006

Before I start with the book review here is a little story that took place in 1995. A former colleague wanted to open a bar in the East Village (New York City). He looked and looked and found this place somewhere on 9th street. He looked around the place and liked what he saw. Then he went to the back and saw about seven wooden beams against the wall. When he asked about them the owner said that is to keep the wall from collapsing. Anyway my friend settled on another place and opened his bar in a former parking garage, the name of the place is Liquids and it is located on east 10 Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.

Now why am I telling you this story? This story happens in the database world all the time, think of the data model as the foundation of your house if your foundation is weak you need kludges (wooden beams) to prevent your structure from collapsing. How many times do you see on newsgroups questions relating to split string because someone stored a comma delimited string in a column instead of having a lookup table? You have to start with the proper design, once you have that everything else becomes so much easier. It is easy to change a proc or some code somewhere. Once you have to redo your design then you have to also go through all the code and make changes and then also pray that you didn’t break anything. So this is what this book is all about; to teach you how to properly design a data model for speed, concurrency, security, interoperability, integrity and much more. There is no need for triggers when you can use check constraints which in turn will perform much better.

I got my copy of the book the day after our twins were born, that is a little more than 10 months ago. I have read the book many times but I did not read it in the order that it is written in. However I do recommend reading at least the first 5 chapters in the correct order, this is especially true if you are new to databases.

So what do I think of the book? I think that this book is excellent, it is written in a way that is not dry, and you will actually laugh a couple of times when reading this book. The book is written in such a way that it goes into as much detail as necessary to explain the concept and also provides links where needed for material that is not in the scope of the book. Most chapters end with a best practices and a summary section which is very useful if you want to find out what the chapter is about without reading the whole chapter first.

The book has 11 Chapter and 2 appendixes which are listed below

Chapter 1 Introduction to Database Concepts
Chapter 2 Data Modeling
Chapter 3 Conceptual Data Modeling
Chapter 4 The Normalization Process
Chapter 5 Implementing the Base Table Structures
Chapter 6 Protecting the Integrity of Your Data
Chapter 7 Securing Access to the Data
Chapter 8 Table Structures and Indexing
Chapter 9 Coding for Concurrency
Chapter 10 Code-Level Architectural Decisions
Chapter 11 Database Interoperability
APPENDIX A Codd’s 12 Rules for an RDBMS
APPENDIX B Datatype Reference

The name of the chapter indicates what the chapter is about, I won’t go into detail by reviewing every chapter.

If you are completely new to SQL then this is the book for you because a good design is the foundation of everything. Now there are two ways to find this out the first way is the easy way. You purchase the book, read it and use the code. The second way is more painful. You have a weak database foundation, performance is bad, customers complain, your boss is breathing down your neck and the only shows you watch on TV are the late shows because you have to update statistics and reindex your database between 7PM and 10PM every single day to make it perform somewhat responsive. If you are an advanced/intermediate developer don’t think that this book is not for you. It is! I have learned a bunch of new tricks/tips which I would not have if I did not read the book. Obviously I am not the only one who praises the book; just take a look at the reviews on Amazon

If you want check out the book first here is the link to the sample chapter:

Here is the link to Louis’ blog where he posts updates about the book

I did an interview with Louis a while back, you can find that here

The nest 2 reviews will be Itzik’s and then Adam’s book. I think that Itzik’s will be next week and Adam’s the week after that.

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