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 What book to buy?
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Fromper
Starting Member

USA
30 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2012 :  17:32:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I bought Robert Vieira's excellent "Beginning SQL Server 2005 Programming" from Wrox Press about 5 or 6 years ago, and actually read it cover to cover. Back then, I wasn't a programmer. I was doing software support and needed to dig into the data written by the software I was supporting. I knew basic SQL statements before reading that book, but I learned a ton that helped me write much more detailed, involved queries from reading it.

At my last job, I switched from software support to BI, so I wrote a lot of stored procedures, learned SSRS, got some exposure to SSIS and SSAS, etc. That was on SQL 2008. For what I was doing, the only difference I noticed between 2005 and 2008 was that date and time fields were available, so I didn't have to manually pull the dates out of datetime fields any more.

Now, I've started a new job as a SQL developer, which is my first real programming job. In just the first couple of weeks on the job, I've started applying things like error catching and transaction rollbacks in sprocs that I had never done before. That book on SQL 2005 is still my bible for looking up stuff like that, and it does cover most of it, though I expect there are newer details that are missing.

At my new company, we're using SQL 2012, so I'd like to get a book that covers new features specific to that version. But mostly, I'd like something that goes beyond the basics and goes into the higher level programming stuff that I don't have much experience with yet. So I need to learn to be a higher level programmer first and foremost, while learning the newer details of SQL 2012 second.

As a fan of Wrox Press and Robert Vieira's writing specifically, since his SQL 2005 book is the only tech book over 600 pages I've ever been able to sit through to read from cover to cover, I checked to see what Wrox Press has available. Apparently, there's a new beginning programming book for 2012, but that's it. But Vieira also wrote a book called "Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Programming", which sounds like exactly what I'm looking for, just on the wrong version of SQL.

So the obvious question is what book everyone would recommend. It kind of looks like the 2008 programming book would be a good bet for me, because it will cover the level of programming detail I need, despite being on the wrong version. Are there good books from other companies that I should be looking at? Being able to sit and read whatever book I buy from cover to cover is a major concern for me, so I've given up on anything published by Microsoft Press. I bought two MS Press books in the past, and they were both poster children for dry, technical manuals. They might make decent reference material when looking things up, but I wouldn't try to sit and read them, unless I was suffering from insomnia.

robvolk
Most Valuable Yak

USA
15676 Posts

Posted - 10/25/2012 :  17:49:44  Show Profile  Visit robvolk's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I wholeheartedly recommend any book in the "Inside SQL Server" series published by Microsoft Press. The Programming ones are different from the Wrox book, but are still excellent.

It's hard to say about a 2008 vs. 2012 book, most of the new features (like AlwaysOn, FileTable, and ColumnStore) don't change SQL programming technique that much compared to 2005 (which was a HUGE change). 2012 added THROW for error handling and some TRY functions, but that's about the biggest difference. You might want to hit your local bookstore and browse them a bit before buying.
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Fromper
Starting Member

USA
30 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2012 :  10:26:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
So apparently, it's only the certification training books from Microsoft Press that are completely unreadable. Thanks for pointing out that they actually have a decent line of books, too.

After reading some reviews at online and browsing the book at a local store, I ended up getting "Microsoft SQL Server 2012 T-SQL Fundamentals" by Itzik Ben-Gan, which is published by MS. Apparently, they don't call the series "Inside SQL Server" any more, but it seems to be the same series by the same author.

Even though it's supposedly a beginner's book, I think I can learn a decent amount from this one. The table of contents online made it seem like about half the chapters would be review, but the other half would cover more advanced topics. Looking at the book in the store, I realized that even the "review" chapters would give me tidbits and details I didn't know. For instance, the chapter on basic select statements mentions new 2012 functions for dealing with dates, like EOMONTH, that I didn't know about.

So I think this will be a good start. I may still end up looking for something more advanced in 2 or 3 months, but this should do for now.

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robvolk
Most Valuable Yak

USA
15676 Posts

Posted - 10/29/2012 :  13:34:36  Show Profile  Visit robvolk's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Anything by Itzik is worth reading. If you have an opportunity to attend his presentations, do so. He could read the phone book out loud and teach you something you didn't know.
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