Time for Database Developing!

  • Time for developing databases!

    # Introduction
    For the last two years I've been involved more and more with developing solutions that includes databases. Some solutions cover the task to only retrieve data from databases while other includes also updating as well as creating databases. I'm not a database-developer per se so many times I hire another consultants to do the developing work but the more I work with this kind of issues the more I get interested. In order to get better understanding and to learn more about database-developing I have done some database-projects of my own, usually with SQL Server 2000 and MySQL.

    This post is about what we need to have in order to start developing databases. As with everything else we of course need to have time, patience and a focus on what we must learn and achieve but most important is to get the required knowledge & skillness. Not only for how to use the available tools but also to understand and have a deeper understanding of what databases are and how to use them.

    Sure, with all the facilities of wizards, fancy GUI and powerful computers it's not hard to set up a database within a hour or so. But I'm not talking about quick & dirty solutions I'm talking about professional solutions that are based on knowledge & skillness and that are well designed for their purposes.

    With an upcoming new version of SQL Server 2005, new version of ADO.NET 2.0 (part of Microsoft Framework 2.0), new version of Visual Studio .NET 2005 and the XML-era database developing will be "hot" for the coming years!

    The rapid developing of new tools may also be a reason to hold back all kind of investments in books & tools. If you plan to "jump on the train" when SQL Server 2005 have hit the market then it's better to wait until the books for this version have been published. However, all the books mentioned in "Understanding the fundamentals of databases" will still be valid :)

    Although we can find many good sources on the Internet I still prefer to read books. Except for the fact that books can be read in almost all places another important aspect is that books have been, unlike many online resources, reviewed both in terms of technical quality and writing style which assure at least that the contents have a good quality and to be trusted.

    Unfortunately books have become more expensive (at least in my part of the world) then earlier so before buying any books take your time to evaluate them carefully. The books I have listed below should all be considered as well reputable books and the contents are of good quality.

    #1 Understanding the fundamentals of databases
    No matter what kind of databases we plan to develop and no matter if it's a personal Access-database or a corporate central database we need to understand the database theory. These books are textbooks on the subject and will give the necessary theory.

    Title: An Introduction to Database Systems
    Author: C J Date
    Publisher: Addison Wesley
    ISBN: 0321189566

    Title: Practical Issues in Database Management
    Author: Fabian Pascal
    Publisher: Addison Wesley
    ISBN: 0201485559

    Database Systems
    A Practical Approach to Design, Implementation and Management
    Author: Thomas Connolly, Carolyn Begg
    Publisher: Addison Wesley
    ISBN: 0321210255

    Comments: If you only want to get one of these book then I strongly suggest to go with the Database Systems.

    #2 Design Tools
    Too often we tend to start up and rush into projects. However when developing databases the statement "what you create is what you get" is truly true. The design phase is perhaps the most important stage of them all. The output of the design phase will be the model to be used when we build the databases. Paper and pencil is still valid (at least for me) but we need also a tool to make the conceptual design of the planned database.

    ICT Database Designer:

    A free tool that is guite good although it has been a while since it was updated. It may be a good tool to start up with and later make an investment (if necessary) in a commercial tool.

    Visible Analyst DB Engineer:

    A commercial tool that I find to be good and will give the computer-based support to design databases.

    #3 Books on SQL Server 2000, ADO and ADO.NET
    SQL Server Books online
    This help file is shipped with SQL Server. A must read!

    I can assure you that you can spend over 100 hours to read through this source. However, I find it difficult to read longer times on the screen so I printed out almost all documentation before reading it.

    Title: Inside Microsoft® SQL Server 2000
    Author: Kalen Delaney
    Publisher: MS Press
    ISBN: 0-7356-0998-5

    Title: The Guru's Guide to Transact-SQL
    Author: Ken Henderson
    Publisher: Addison Wesley
    ISBN: 0-201-61576-2

    Title: Professional SQL Server 2000 Programming
    Author: Robert Vieira
    Publisher: Wrox
    ISBN: 0-7645-4379-2

    Title: Professional SQL Server 2000 DTS (Data Transformation Services)
    Author: Mark Chaffin, Brian Knight, Todd Robinson
    Publisher: Wrox
    ISBN: 0-7645-4368-7

    Title: Writing Stored Procedures with Microsoft SQL Server
    Author: Matt Shepker
    Publisher: Sams
    ISBN: 0-672-31886-5

    Title: Serious ADO: Universal Data Access with Visual Basic
    Author: Rob Macdonald
    Publisher: Apress
    ISBN: 1-893115-19-4

    Database Programming with Visual Basic.NET 2nd Edition
    Author: Carsten Thomsen
    Publisher: Apress
    ISBN: 1-59059-0325

    What about books that cover databases and Excel?
    Well, to be honest I have not yet find any good book on the subject. Of course, there exist books that do write about it but usually only a basic level is covered and with a focus on Access-databases.

    #4 Online resources
    Below you find the sites I rank highest when it comes to SQL Server:

    SQL DTS.com

    SQL Server Integration Services - For SQL Server 2005

    SSWUG (SQL Server Worldwide's User Group)

    Homepage of SQL Server

    #5 The End
    Usually it's very fun to spend the time with computer-related activities but to be honest a walk for an hour or two when the weather is good and with good company is unbeatable so turn off the computer(s) and enjoy the real life as well!

    Although the media have lost their interest for the local people that were hit by the Tsunami we still need to help them. Help them by visiting their countries, send money and perhaps also take part of different kind of activities that is targeting to help them.

    UN is doing a great work but as we know there exist lot of needs around the world and UN can't put all their efforts in one area.

    To the next time - take care and don't forget to keep the love alive and see the good side of the life!