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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:
Oracle Design
Author:
Dave Ensor&Ian Stevenson
ISBN:
1 56592 268 9
Publisher:
O'Reilly
Pages:
526pp
Price:
£29-50
Reviewer:
Michael Minihane
Subject:
database
Appeared in:
10-3
Oracle Designdeals with Oracle database, code and architecture design. Oracle versions 6 and 8 are mentioned, although the emphasis in on version 7.x where necessary and this book was written before the release of Oracle 8. Much of the material is applicable to all versions.

There aren't many books that cover database design at a level beyond normalisation and even fewer books that cover Oracle specific database design. One of the reasons for this is that there is no one method that is suitable for all cases. A database can have many, often conflicting, requirements and a solution that makes sense for one implementation might not work with another.

So the approach taken is not to present a methodology or some generally applicable rules of thumb. Instead, different aspects of design are considered and the reasoning behind different design decisions is shown, along with examples where appropriate. This information should help to prevent you from reinventing the wheel, or arriving at a final decision by a tortuous route, on your own projects.

The book starts by considering where design fits into the lifecycle and why design is important. Data modelling techniques are then covered before the book moves onto database design. This section deals with the aspects that are traditionally considered as central to physical database design, such as denormalisation and the selection of keys and indexes. Other aspects considered are temporal data, datatype selection, sizing and database object storage parameters. Data loading, unloading and archiving are also covered.

The next section deals with architecture specific design and considers client server, distributed databases, data warehouses and parallel processing. The final section deals with code design and considers where to locate processing, locking, front end products and the design of screens, reports and batch programs. The appendices cover the merits of off-the-shelf solutions and 'tricks of the trade', such as the use of RR in date masks to help with year 2000 compliance and the provision of database extensibility.

As you would expect, some sections are larger and more detailed than others are, e.g. the selection of keys and indexes is mostly up to the user, but locking is mostly taken care of by Oracle.

This book is useful for those with Oracle experience and for those converting to Oracle from other databases. Although some chapters will provide more enlightenment than others, depending on your areas of expertise, the book is useful both as a reference when considering some aspect of a design and to help provide the general understanding required to produce good Oracle relational database design.

Oracle 8 Design Tipsis a very slim volume which serves as a stopgap with Oracle 8 detail until the next edition of Oracle Design. Its coverage is Oracle 8 specific and it is written by the authors of Oracle Design. It explains the new features of Oracle 8 from a design viewpoint and as a companion volume it serves its purpose, usefully extending the life of Oracle Design. However, unless you're using Oracle 8 now or very interested in the new features you might prefer to wait for the next edition of Oracle Design.