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March 26, 2002

Transact-SQL Cookbook from O'Reilly: Mastering the Creative SQL Query and More

Sebastopol, CA--While a cookbook is often just an assortment of recipes on a bookshelf, there are times when it can be much more: it can represent a departure from a person's customary fare, a culinary adventure, so to speak. Likewise, for many SQL programmers, the new Transact-SQL Cookbook by Ales Spetic and Jonathan Gennick (O'Reilly, US $34.95) will signal a departure from their standard way of thinking about SQL and Transact-SQL. "Getting the most out of SQL and Transact-SQL requires a particular way of thinking," authors Spetic and Gennick explain in their book. "SQL is a set-oriented language in which you focus on end results, not on the procedures used to accomplish those results. If you're used to thinking procedurally, this shift to set-oriented thinking can be jarring."

Transact-SQL is so deceptively simple, Spetic and Gennick say, that few people take the time to master it. In fact, most SQL books on the market contribute to this by not taking their readers much further than the level of writing simple SQL statements. "Ever since I first learned SQL back in the early '90s, I've been fascinated by how much you could accomplish with a single, creative SQL query," says Gennick. "One of my favorite programming tasks is working out SQL-based solutions to various problems that I'm challenged with. When developing reports, for example, my credo has been to get each report down to a single SQL query."

The Transact-SQL Cookbook contains a wealth of solutions to problems that SQL Server programmers face all the time. The "recipes" in the book range from those that show how to perform simple tasks such as importing external data to those that handle more complicated tasks involving set algebra. Each recipe is followed by a discussion that explains the logic and concepts underlying the solution.

Says Gennick, "It's my hope that on top of all the specifics that we write about in the book that readers come away with an awareness of how much of what would otherwise be client-side programming work can be pushed back on the database and done using SQL instead. There are many cases where programmers write procedural code to do what SQL can do for them with less effort on their part."

The Transact-SQL Cookbook was written to help SQL programmers learn how to "think SQL," that is, to creatively apply SQL to the programming problems they encounter daily. As coauthor Spetic explains, "While working on some projects, I was searching for advanced Transact-SQL related material written for programmers. Often books on SQL include information for administrators, designers, and other database professionals. Such material is too broad and often ignores the little important details that are of vital importance to a programmer. I thought that it was important to have a book written for programmers, with emphasis on programming techniques and tricks."

Readers of the Transact-SQL Cookbook will include those who have just recently learned SQL as well as those who have been using SQL for years. The profusion of recipes in the book will provide even the most experienced SQL programmers with techniques and new ideas about the full power of SQL and Transact-SQL.

Online Resources:

Transact-SQL Cookbook
By Ales Spetic and Jonathan Gennick
ISBN 1-56592-756-7, 304 pages
$34.95 (US), $54.95 (CAN)
order@oreilly.com
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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