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Book Review: SQL Antipatterns

Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming

I never thought I would ever describe a technical book that I have reviewed as delightful but that is exactly how felt when I read the book SQL Antipatterns by Bill Karwin. The book's subtitle ‘Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programming' really summarizes the goal of the book in a nutshell.

The book consists of 25 chapters divided into four distinct topics. Each chapter reviews a different antipattern. Mr. Karwin defines an antipattern as "a technique that is intended to solve a problem but that often leads to other problems." Each chapter starts off with a problem to solve or as Mr. Karwin calls it an "objective." He then presents the antipattern as a way to solve the problem, and shows you how to identify the antipatttern by asking a series of questions. He will explain if there are any legitimate uses for the antipattern. Finally he will present solutions that avoid the pitfalls of the antipattern.

Topics in the book include Store MultiValue Attributes, Establish Primary Key Conventions, Using Fractional Numbers, and Recover or Reset Passwords, just to name a few. There is also a small appendix at the end that covers the topic of Normalization.

I enjoyed this book so much because I have encountered (and I am sure you have too) many of the same issues discussed by Mr. Karwin. I was happy to see that in many cases my solution matched that of the expert. In addition, I liked this book because Mr. Karwin's style is clean and precise. My only minor complaint is that the examples he brings could have been more robust for the selected relational database management systems he chooses to cover. If there was not enough room in the book perhaps a website with the examples would have been sufficient. Nevertheless, as I said before, the book is delightful and informative and is highly recommended.

SQL Antipatterns: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Database Programmin
  • Author: Bill Karwin
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Programmers
  • Pub. Date: June 2010
  • Pages: 300
  • Language: SQL
  • Level: Beginner - Intermediate

More Stories By Steven Mandel

Steven Mandel has worked in the IT industry for over 15 years designing databases using Microsoft Access and SQL Server. He has developed Web and Windows applications using VB.NET and has written numerous articles and reviews about ASP.NET and VB.NET.

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