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September 28, 2005

Learning SQL: A Pain-Free Introduction to SQL

Sebastopol, CA--With only a handful of commands, SQL data statements can look deceptively simple. This, combined with the fact that many database developers discover they can get by with learning just the rudiments of the language, explains why so few SQL users tap into the full power of the language. "In my opinion, many of the available SQL books help to foster this notion by only skimming the surface of what is possible with the language," says Alan Beaulieu, author of Learning SQL (O'Reilly, US $34.95), adding "If you're going to work with SQL, it behooves you to understand fully the capabilities of the language and how different features can be combined to produce powerful results."

Those who work with relational databases--whether writing applications, performing administrative tasks, or generating reports--need to understand how to interact with their data. Even those who use a tool that generates SQL for them, such as a reporting tool, may have occasions whEn they need to bypass the automatic generation feature and write their own SQL statements. SQL can also be fun: it can be exhilarating to take a tricky data manipulation or reporting problem and solve it with a single, well written statement. Learning SQL provides a pain-free introduction that begins with a simple SELECT statement and gently guides readers well on their way to proficiency with the language.

"Most SQL books on the market today cover either too little or too much territory, so I wanted to write an introductory book that gives the reader a solid understanding of the SQL language without being overwhelming. I also wanted to stick to standard SQL syntax so that the reader's knowledge could be applied to multiple databases, i.e. Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL," says Beaulieu. "I feel that this is the only book that provides detailed coverage of the SQL language without the added benefit of doubling as a 'door stop' (you know, those 1,250-page 'complete references' that tend to gather dust on people's cubicle shelves)."

Beaulieu's book is intended for anyone who needs to learn SQL to enhance his or her academic or professional career. The book shows readers how to collect and return related information from many tables at once, take a set-oriented approach to working with data, embed conditional logic into SQL statements using CASE expressions, write queries within queries, and employ SQL's many built-in functions to transform and reinterpret data.

SQL may be an old language, but it's going to be around for a long time and has a bright future, Beaulieu contends: "SQL is one of those things that people expect will go away, but it never does. Even though computers are getting faster all the time and can store and retrieve terabytes of data, it is still imperative that users learn how data is stored and how it can be efficiently manipulated." With Learning SQL, readers can master this important skill and know that the SQL statements they write are both powerful and correct.

Additional Resources:

Learning SQL
Alan Beaulieu
ISBN: 0-596-00727-2, 289 pages, $34.95 US, $48.95 CA
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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