Forum: Ruby on Rails SQL book for Rails developers?

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Ba42c00c201db5419585d8247495adbc?d=identicon&s=25 Trevor Harmon (Guest)
on 2006-05-03 19:06
(Received via mailing list)
I can design basic Rails models without any trouble, and I feel pretty
comfortable at the mysql command prompt. But some of these new database
features in Rails 1.1 have me scratching my head: polymorphic
associations, join models, etc. What is all that?

I think I need a book that covers the advanced database topics one
would need to know as a Rails developer -- not necessarily
Rails-specific, but comprehensive enough to include all the database
topics relevant to Rails. That means it would have to include not just
material on SQL syntax and whatnot, but also best practices for
database design, that sort of thing. Hopefully it could also serve as a
general reference to the SQL language, as well.

Does anyone know of a book like that? (Hope I'm not wishing for too
much.) Thanks,

Trevor
675475d0b65710be6d992eb5eb2c61c2?d=identicon&s=25 Gregory Seidman (Guest)
on 2006-05-03 19:07
(Received via mailing list)
On Wed, May 03, 2006 at 12:52:55AM -0700, Trevor Harmon wrote:
} I can design basic Rails models without any trouble, and I feel pretty
} comfortable at the mysql command prompt. But some of these new
database
} features in Rails 1.1 have me scratching my head: polymorphic
} associations, join models, etc. What is all that?

These are not SQL terms or even relational database terms. These have to
do
with Object-Relational Modeling (ORM). ActiveRecord is an ORM framework,
and some of those terms (e.g. join models) seem to have been invented
specifically for AR.

} I think I need a book that covers the advanced database topics one
} would need to know as a Rails developer -- not necessarily
} Rails-specific, but comprehensive enough to include all the database
} topics relevant to Rails. That means it would have to include not just
} material on SQL syntax and whatnot, but also best practices for
} database design, that sort of thing. Hopefully it could also serve as
a
} general reference to the SQL language, as well.
}
} Does anyone know of a book like that? (Hope I'm not wishing for too
} much.)

Good database design is an art. I have rarely seen it taught well. The
best
book I've seen, which is the textbook I used in college (and is used
pretty
nearly universally for undergrad database courses), probably isn't
sufficient on its own. You can try, though. We used "Database System
Concepts" by Silberschatz et al., which seems to retail for over $100
(well
it *is* a textbook) these days. I searched Amazon for "database" and
found
many books, but I can't say anything about their quality.

} Thanks,
} Trevor
--Greg
Bc80625db60e9db4394c51d6c1892b49?d=identicon&s=25 Derrick Spell (Guest)
on 2006-05-03 19:07
(Received via mailing list)
On May 3, 2006, at 8:42 AM, Gregory Seidman wrote:

> with Object-Relational Modeling (ORM). ActiveRecord is an ORM
> framework,
> and some of those terms (e.g. join models) seem to have been invented
> specifically for AR.

Yes, but a good database book will discuss object-oriented and object-
relational databases, not just relational databases.  The key here is
that you need both an understanding of databases AND an understanding
of object oriented programming concepts.  It's one of those times you
have to put the knowledge from multiple courses together.

> } Does anyone know of a book like that? (Hope I'm not wishing for too
> it *is* a textbook) these days. I searched Amazon for "database"
> and found
> many books, but I can't say anything about their quality.

I've heard good things about the Silberschatz book.  The text we used
was titled "Database Systems: The Complete Book"  and was authored by
Garcia-Molina, Ullman, & Widom (almost sounds like a law firm).  It's
another $100 book, but it's pretty comprehensive.  I highly recommend
it if you are looking for a deeper understanding that also can serve
as a good reference.  Here's the synopsis from ecampus.com:

Synopsis:
This introduction to database systems offers a readable comprehensive
approach with engaging, real-world examplesâ??users will learn how to
successfully plan a database application before building it. The
first half of the book provides in-depth coverage of databases from
the point of view of the database designer, user, and application
programmer, while the second half of the book provides in-depth
coverage of databases from the point of view of the DBMS implementor.
The first half of the book focuses on database design, database use,
and implementation of database applications and database management
systemsâ??it covers the latest database standards SQL:1999, SQL/PSM,
SQL/CLI, JDBC, ODL, and XML, with broader coverage of SQL than most
other books. The second half of the book focuses on storage
structures, query processing, and transaction managementâ??it covers
the main techniques in these areas with broader coverage of query
optimization than most other books, along with advanced topics
including multidimensional and bitmap indexes, distributed
transactions, and information integration techniques. A professional
reference for database designers, users, and application programmers.


I think that it's also sold separately in parts 1 and 2.  The second
half discusses the concepts related to designing the database server
itself, so unless you plan on writing the next-generation database
server YourSQL, it's probably overkill.

-Derrick Spell
A90204c955db033cd975f7bb0ec9600b?d=identicon&s=25 Ashley Moran (Guest)
on 2006-05-03 19:07
(Received via mailing list)
On Wednesday 03 May 2006 14:35, Derrick Spell wrote:
> These are not SQL terms or even relational database terms. These have to do
> with Object-Relational Modeling (ORM). ActiveRecord is an ORM framework,
> and some of those terms (e.g. join models) seem to have been invented
> specifically for AR.
>
> Yes, but a good database book will discuss object-oriented and
> object-relational databases, not just relational databases.  The key here
> is that you need both an understanding of databases AND an understanding of
> object oriented programming concepts.  It's one of those times you have to
> put the knowledge from multiple courses together.

Trevor

I agree with the general theme of the replies here.  I worked with
databases
daily for over a year with no real understanding of what I was doing.
(I
mean I THOUGHT I knew what I was doing but really didn't have a clue.)

You can't really learn how to use the "Rails-specific" bits of a
database, any
more than you can learn only "holiday phrases" of a foreign language.
You
have to learn the whole thing, then take the bits you need for whatever
you
are doing.

Databases have a lot of rigorous theory behind them.  You don't need to
understand it in full depth to work with databases (I certainly don't!),
but
you need to be aware of the issues.  There are plenty of traps waiting -
SQL
itself is a flawed language (the MySQL implementation even more so) but
if
you are know where you are making compromises, they won't come back to
bite
you.  Incidentally, I always recommend PostgreSQL over MySQL here simply
because it strives for correctness which is the number 1 concern for
databases.

I haven't seen a book that is a gentle introduction to databases AND
explains
how to apply the theory correctly.  I think this is a big hole in the
market
right now!  You are best finding the best book on the database system
you
want to use and getting some practical experience.  Then buy something
more
theoretical.  I highly recommend Database in Depth by C J Date
(incidentally
where I got my signature quote from).  It can be a bit of a
mind-boggler, but
it's short, it makes you think, and you can skip the proofs and formal
defintions.

I wish there was an easy way to learn databases, but if you put the
effort in,
you can get yourself way ahead of the game.

Regards
Ashley
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