Probably the biggest hurdle in expanding a small site into a larger one is managing all of the new code, content, and design issues. The solution most web sites come to is to create a database that stores information that allows a big site to be managed by a small team. While there are many options and combinations out there, the cheapest and easiest way to go about managing a database site is to use PHP or PERL, combined with MySQL.

The book MySQL is one of several books that attempts making the migration to a MySQL database site easier. Overall, the book succeeds in its mission. The book is divided into four major sections. First, the author, Paul DuBois, introduces you to the world of MySQL and the Structured Query Language itself. The next section consists of a three-tiered approach. DuBois realizes that MySQL can be used with a variety of languages, and he goes into detail on how to optimally use the relational database with C, Perl, and PHP. His efforts in doing so produce the desired results: programmers from a variety of backgrounds can get started using MySQL (as opposed to other books, which usually focus on MySQL combined with a specific language, such as PHP). The third section, which mainly applies to server administrators, explains how to keep MySQL relatively secure and how manage and maintain the server. The last section, and by no means the least, consists of the appendixes. The book is 700 pages (excluding the index), and this section is a significant 200 pages long. It includes helpful references to all of the applicable functions in C, PHP, and Perl, as well as including information about MySQL data types, SQL syntax, and SQL functions.


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With the average chapter consisting of 30 pages, DuBois is able to get into much detail without getting too bogged down. He starts the book with two examples, a historical society looking to keep a membership database, and a teacher looking to create an organized way to manage students’ grades. The book traces the paths of these two projects in all the relevant sections, providing a start-to-finish overview of how two disparate groups found solutions using MySQL. DuBois effectively addresses most of the major issues you’ll confront when working with a database, and provides solutions through the liberal use of specific examples scattered throughout the book.

The book provides information for even beginners to get started. It starts slowly, but then picks up, assuming that you have some knowledge in C, Perl, PHP, and Linux. In this way, it is possible for a beginner to learn and work with MySQL relatively trouble-free. However, although DuBois includes sections for C, PHP, and Perl, he assumes the reader knows something about the languages involved. If you don’t, you’ll still be able to use the database-relevant portions of these languages, but not much else. The title of this book is MySQL, which is a good pointer into what its main purpose is.

This book serves two groups of learners. Those who like learning step by step will be able to take advantage of the primary part of the book, which is a good, but sometimes overwhelming, guide. However, the book also includes the expansive appendix section, which I spoke of above, that is hugely beneficial to the types who already know something about MySQL but need a bit of a push. The reference sections also give the most advanced users a place to look when their memory fails them.

The only points I found that might be troubling is that sometimes it’s hard to find what you’re looking for in all the text. If you go step by step through the chapters, then this should not be an issue. Also, there is no CD included, so you’ll have to get the software online. The book does include a section that tells you where to get most of the software.

Overall, this book makes the task of learning the relationship database management server MySQL easier. It includes enough material so even the most amateur users will be able to take advantage of the possibilities a database offers. Also, it gives programmers handy chapters that allow them to integrate MySQL in their own projects. Thirdly, the large reference in the back is a handy tool to use when you know how to do something but need that little extra push. The book costs $50, which isn’t an insignificant amount. But it’s worth it.

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Great appendix and the book features lots of examples.

Sometimes it’s hard to find your way around the book.

Bottom Line:
If you’re the least bit computer literate and are looking to add MySQL to your projects, get this book.