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OK for DB professionals, NOT for beginners
am 12. Juni 2000
This is a strange book. I had a continual feeling of disjointed writing presenting a rag-bag collection of unconnected ideas.
If you need an introductory book on data and databases then DON'T buy this book, as it's nothing of the sort. If you need a book giving a complete, thorough grounding in all aspects of relation theory, data and databases, again DON'T buy this book. However, if you work with databases for a living, already have a reasonable understanding about them, and want an assorted collection of discussions about the nature of data and databases then certainly DO consider buying it - you may find it gives deeper insights in this case.
The title is interesting - "Data and Databases", which reflects the book itself. The first half of the book mostly discusses the nature of DATA, with the second half mostly about DATABASES. "Concepts" - certainly, the book is mostly about concepts. "In Practice" - definitely NOT the case, as the book is mostly conceptual with very little of a direct practical nature.
I found the chapter on Keys most useful - an in depth discussion about surrogate keys, which most books barely mention at all. However, even this chapter reflects the general nature of the book. For any given topic, Celko picks a specific aspect which interests him, discusses it at length, but gives very superficial coverage of other equally important aspects of that topic.
The main problem with this book is that the description on the back cover is a blatant misrepresentation of its contents. It leads you to believe it is a comprehensive grounding in all aspects of data and databases, but it simply isn't. Celko admits as much in the Preface, stating it is "a collection of ideas...not a complete, formal text".
Previous reviews range from 1 star to 5 stars, but both types of reviews are actually equally valid depending on where the reader is coming from. If you are new to databases and looking for an introductory text then this book is NOT for you, despite the publishers claiming so on the back cover. If you are experienced with databases then certainly DO consider it, as it does give insights you don't normally come across.
I would have given four stars, but can only give 3 due to (a) the disjointed presentation of topics, and (b) the blatant misrepresentation by the publishers about the book's contents. However, I do recommend it to experienced database professionals.
(p.s. - before someone else goes on about reviewers who don't what they are talking about, I've spent over a decade earning my living developing databases, and spent literally thousands of hours doing formal study to Masters level, so I do have a reasonable idea what I'm on about).