Concise Guide To Databases - Peter Lake, Paul Crowther

GoodReads Summary: This easy-to-read textbook/reference presents a comprehensive introduction to databases, opening with a concise history of databases and of data as an organisational asset. As relational database management systems are no longer the only database solution, the book takes a wider view of database technology, encompassing big data, NoSQL, object and object-relational, and in-memory databases. The text also examines the issues of scalability, availability, performance and security encountered when building and running a database in the real world.


Let me get something out of my system straight away: This book needs some serious proof-reading. The authors seem to have an aversion to commas, and that makes reading some sentences really hard ("Is that an adjective or a noun? Oh, heck, I though it was an adjective, and now things don't make sense; let me read that again as a noun to see if that works.") There are a lot of repeat content (three times there is a discussion on how HDD prices are falling, how the price per megabyte is falling and how SSD is faster than HD). All the abstracts, the first part of every chapter, are just some copy'n'paste from a few phrases of the first part after the abstract. And there are "is in the a Microsoft", "none encrypted protocol" and there is even a "[company] and there product". And two paragraphs one-next-to-the-other have "OS" written in 3 different ways ("o/s", "O/S" and "OS"). Oh, and there is no definitive style for anything: Sometimes quotations would have a larger margin compared to the rest of the text and sometimes they won't; all commands (including SQL queries and related commands to be entered in databases) are all in the same font as the rest of the text (with one single exception in the end of the book); sometimes there are sub-sub-sections (like " and sometimes it just uses bold text with no numeration.

But, if the book was actually nice (and easy) to read, besides all that, does is live to its title? No.

Is it "Concise"? Well, not quite. The printed version is 300+ pages long, which I could hardly call "concise". A lot of content could be removed with no affect in the end, like the step-by-step explanation of all 5 levels of database normalization (which is also arguable if that makes sense in a book that should discuss databases), the explanation of XML (which is not arguable and feels completely lost in a book about databases) and discussions on what to do when a disk fails.

Is it a "Guide"? Not quite. The book does explore (lightly) different databases, but fails to point where each makes sense: What kind of data/database structure makes sense in a relational database? What kind of data fits better on a NoSQL database? When it makes sense to use Hadoop?

Is it about "Databases"? That's where the book fails hard, in my opinion. Sure, it talks about Oracle, and a bit about Mongo, and Oracle, and some about Cassandra, and Oracle, and they even mention Hadoop. And then Oracle. It feels like the whole book is just a huge propaganda on how to operate Oracle, how Oracle tools work, and so on. Sure they talk about other databases, but when every example is about Oracle, you have to wonder why.

Another example of how the book leans towards Oracle: There is a single mention to PostgreSQL, saying that it "is popular with personal computer users". Heck, AWS RDS was launched 4 years prior to the publishing of this book and it already had the PostgreSQL layer. Since early 2000s, every time someone asked "What database should I use for my project?" there was at least one "PostgreSQL" answer. But, since PostgreSQL is in direct competition with Oracle, you can see why it is largely ignored.

So, hard to read and doesn't fill the topic it proposes in its title. "7 Databases in 7 Weeks" does a better job about being a Guide to Databases than this.

ISSN 1863-7310e-ISSN 2197-1781

ISBN 978-1-4471-5600-0e-ISBN 978-1-4471-5601-7