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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1918 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Title:
MS SQL Server 6.5 Unleashed
Author:
Ray Rankins&David Solomon
ISBN:
0 672 30956 4
Publisher:
Sams
Pages:
1216pp+CD
Price:
$59.99
Reviewer:
Ian Cargill
Subject:
database
Appeared in:
11-1
You can gauge the amount of material in this book by the fact that it has twelve (yes, 12!) co-authors and 1200-odd pages. There is no way a single book can cover everything, but this one certainly gives it a try.

The book starts with an overview of SQL Server Architecture, split between an overview of client-server architecture in general and the SQL Enterprise Manager tool for SQL Server 6.5. By discussing all the facilities in the tool, it effectively also covers all the facilities of SQL Server. I don't know that it is the way I would choose to do it, but on the whole, it isn't a bad introduction.

The next section, of a couple of hundred pages, covers Transact-SQL, the MS SQL Server version of SQL. (Actually, because they derived from a common source, Sybase also uses Transact-SQL. Unfortunate-ly, the two versions are drifting apart, so Sybase users beware.) This is a pretty comprehensive introduction to Transact-SQL, although if you haven't done SQL before, you might be better reading an introductory level SQL book first. The best feature is the compre-hensive coverage of non-ANSI extensions in Transact- SQL (most of which also applies to Sybase.) The core of the book, though, are two, fat sections (about 300 pages apiece) on System Administration and Performance and Tuning. There is a huuuuuuge amount of information packed in here and after a couple of months, I'm still finding new things with every new reading. System Administration covers all the typical DBA tasks like installing and maintaining databases, mirroring, logging and recovery, security, backup, optimising configuration, remote management and replication. I don't have to do a lot of DBA work - I'm more on the development side, but I have found this material to be a lifesaving resource on more than one occasion. (Even when working with a Sybase system!) Performance and Tuning is equally comprehensive, covering everything from the effect of storagestructures on performance, designing databases for performance, analysing query plans and locking effects on performance through optimisation of indexes, stored procedures and queries. There is a valuable chapter at the end of the section on common performance and tuning problems.

There are a few chapters at the end on Introduction to Open Client Programming and using SQL Server for dynamic Web pages, but I think they would be better in a book aimed specifically at those subjects. I haven't bothered much with them, but the rest of the book is a different story. I think it is a pretty good book, which would be a useful reference for anyone getting to grips with SQL Server 6.5.