Friday, September 21, 2012

Book Review: PostgreSQL: Up and Running by Regina Obe and Leo Hsu

PostgreSQL: Up and RunningPostgreSQL: Up and Running by Regina Obe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Compared to most books that introduce a full featured relational database management system, PostgreSQL: Up and Running is surprisingly short. It achieves this by being focused on its purpose, and doing it well. It is aimed at someone who knows a little bit about databases, although not necessarily a full featured client-server one, and brings them up to speed on both database server administration in general and PostgreSQL administration in general. It continues to introduce you to features that makes PostgreSQL special, making this a very valuable book to someone coming in to PostgreSQL from some other database, whether that database is simpler or a peer competitor. And since my background is from simpler databases, it works for someone like me.

First, this is not a book for someone who knows nothing about databases. Things such as database design, basic database concepts, and SQL is not covered, with the assumption that you get this knowledge somewhere else before coming here. (In my case, I learned on MS Access and SQLite) So what someone with this background may not have is how to work with a server based database management system.

This also has many sections that discuss some special features of PostgreSQL. The one that I thought was most interesting was the fact that you could write functions in one of many languages. Since I do much of my technical programming in Python, seeing how it is done was intriguing. (I've known that PostgreSQL has PL/Python, but the descriptions that I had seen in the past were obtuse and I had no idea how it would work.)

But this book also knows where to stop. Once I understand a topic to a base level, I'm used to looking to the web to learn more. And the authors consider the PostgreSQL Online Journal as an extension of the book, introducing an advanced topic, then pointing the reader to a quality source as a step in learning more. One advantage of this is that it keeps this book from becoming an intimidating door stopper.

In short, PostgreSQL: Up and Running has decided it will serve as a market that are not complete neophytes, but only bring people up to the point where they are better served by a rich set of advanced resources available on the web. And since this is probably a pretty good description of me, I found this to be a very good resource.

Note: I received a free electronic copy of PostgreSQL: Up and Running as part of the OReilly Blogger Program

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