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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:
Database Magic
Author:
Ken North
ISBN:
0 13 647199 4
Publisher:
Prentice Hall
Pages:
465pp
Price:
£36-49
Reviewer:
Roger N Lever
Subject:
database
Appeared in:
11-4
Database Magic conjures up images for me of using database technology in extra-ordinary ways to improve database layouts, schemas, triggers, constraints... and perhaps novel solutions to searching, indexing strategies or wringing out the last drop of performance in queries. I would like to say that Ifound these things in this book and then recommend it on that basis, but there was very little that was magical or extra-ordinary and very little that would prompt a prospective buyer to rush out and obtain a copy.

So who would like it? My guess would be inexperienced but aspiring DBAs (database administrators) who want to understand the general capabilities of technologies from IBM (DB2), Sybase (Adaptive Server), Informix (Dynamic Server) and Microsoft (SQL Server, ODBC and OLE DB). [It is not clear why Oracle, with perhaps the most popular of these databases, is omitted.] These people would obtain a general overview of the functionality available and a worked example, for each, from installing the database to using some of its features. For instance, one of the examples implements a phonetic search mechanism and another for working with zip codes. The source code is effectively embedded within the text of the book (there is no associated disc or CD)

Ken North replies:

In his review of Database Magic with Ken North, Roger Lever gave the impression the example programs are available only in the text of the book. He apparently did not see an appendix that described how to get the examples.

Appendix F ("Getting the Example Programs and Scripts") explains the example programs and scripts are available from a Prentice Hall ftp server accessible from the Internet. There are also references in the text of the book directing the reader to the ftp site. You can download the programs and scripts by using a Web browser or ftp program.

and seems more like filler material than fully worked and explained example code.

Of course, some might appreciate the chapter on Object Role Modelling and InfoModeller or interoperable SQL and use that to justify the cost of the book. However, it is difficult to see that the DBA specialist, or a DBA wanting to get to grips with one particular technology would actually want to buy a book that consequently has a lot of irrelevant material. For client-side developers it may be useful to see how the server end looks but overall this book is too general, tries to cover too much and therefore has insufficient depth for any one topic to be really useful.