An Excellent Reference, Packed Full of SQL Gems

Perfect little pocket book format reference, affordable, comprehensive, well cross-referenced.


If you use SQL on a regular basis or expect to, this compact handbook is an excellent source of quick answers. Structured Query Language is the dominant language in the database management community. Declarative and near ubiquitous, understanding its intricacies and variations is critical to being effective in the relational database world. Martin Gruber has put together a comprehensive collection of documentation on each of the SQL commands and elements, covering SQL 92 and a number of variants which are key to making effective use of SQL in the real world.

The book’s 350 pages are divided into three parts and a series of appendices. Part I provides an overview of SQL, complete with a look at different forms of SQL, a relational database primer, modern SQL implementations covering users, schemas and sessions. This coverage is well put together but terse, with no coverage of normalization, for example. The SQL-specific coverage is pragmatic and significant, touching on dynamic SQL, domains, assertions and access privileges. Taken together, this information is enlightening in many small increments which add up to something altogether significant and meaningful.

Part II is the heart of this book, listing every SQL statement alphabetically, providing syntax, usage, examples and conformance levels for each. The examples are not always instructive but the conformance levels alone make this book a good value. Many of the commands are supplemented with useful notes covering related topics in a given context. The alphabetical listings, cross-referencing and the book’s index, which covers about 24 pages, make finding what you need to access relatively straight forward.

Part III covers common elements, supplementing the statement reference in Part II. These elements include constraints, data types, functions and predicates, to name the major ones. Each is well covered and follows the same syntax, usage and conformance format provided in Part II. The 7 appendices include the embedded SQL specification for various languages, the module language, dynamic SQL, linguistic specifications , incompatibilities and deprecated features. The final appendix provides a nice, comprehensive glossary of terms that help you find your way through any unfamiliar terminology.

As a whole, I found this book to be a great investment. If you do a lot of SQL work and tend to find yourself using different database systems, the conformance level information is often useful. This is a book I find myself reaching for whenever I have an SQL question, an excellent buy at only $19.99. The inner covers provide quick lookup information that can often lead you in the right direction. In short, if you work with SQL frequently and don’t yet remember every command variant by heart, this is a great book to have at hand. If you’re just starting to use SQL, the glossary and quick lookup features are virtually indispensable.