The Guru's Guide to SQL Server Stored Procedures, XML and HTML

The Guru’s Guide to SQL Server Stored Procedures, XML and HTML
by Ken Henderson
Copyright 2002

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I have read many, many programming books over the years. One of the biggest gripes I have had with most of them is while they explain the “how” of programming, such as how to manipulate strings or how to read and write data files, what they don’t do is a good job of explaining the “why” of programming techniques. In other words, why should I use this technique over that technique, or why should this technique be used here, but not there? It seems most authors tell you “how” to do stuff, but they don’t provide that deeper understanding that is so important to making the most of any programming language.

Every programming language has its pros and cons, and Transact-SQL is no exception. It performs some functions very well, such as set based operations, but it doesn’t do other things as well, such as procedural tasks. Just because it has a weakness, doesn’t mean that Transact-SQL is a poor programming language. To get the most out of Transact-SQL, it takes a developer who fully understand the languages strengths and weaknesses. And one way to to gain this understanding of Transact-SQL, and understand the “whys” behind it, is to devote some of your time to savoring Ken Henderson’s newest book, The Guru’s Guide to SQL Server Stored Procedures, XML and HTML.

Unlike most books on Transact-SQL, The Guru’s Guide to SQL Server Stored Procedures, XML and HTML is not a book focusing solely on the “hows” of Transact-SQL development, but instead focuses on both the “hows” and “whys” of Transact-SQL development. Another way of looking at it is to say that the book covers the philosophy of Transact-SQL development, and that the book helps you to learn how to apply this philosophy to your own needs and demands.

Now don’t think that this book talks about blue sky topics. That could not be further from the truth. The book provides solid, practical information on how to develop sophisticated, quality, Transact-SQL applications that are just as must as elegant as code written in any programming language.

This book takes off from Henderson’s previous Transact-SQL book, The Guru’s Guide to Transact-SQL. While the first book is targeted more toward Transact-SQL beginners, this book is designed for developers who are already know the basics, but who want to learn how to get the most out of Transact-SQL.

While the focus of this book is getting the most out of stored procedures, one of Transact-SQL’s biggest strengths, it also covers other topics of interest to most Transact-SQL developers, including comprehensive discussions on XML, HTML, and .NET.

More specifically, these topics are covered:

  • Stored Procedure Primer

  • Suggested Conventions

  • Common Design Patterns

  • Source Code Management

  • Database Design

  • Data Volumes

  • Error Handling

  • Triggers

  • Views

  • User-Defined Functions

  • HTML

  • Introduction to XML

  • XML and SQL Server: HTTP Queries

  • XML and SQL Server: Retrieving Data

  • XML and SQL Server: OPENXML

  • .NET and the Coming Revolution

  • Performance Considerations

  • Debugging and Profiling

  • Automation

  • Extended Stored Procedures

  • Administrative Stored Procedures

  • Undocumented Transact-SQL

  • Arrays

  • Creating a Workable Environment

  • Evolutionary Development

  • The Gestalt of Testing

As you review the book’s topics, you will notice many chapters devoted to the overall development process. These are topics rarely covered elsewhere. These topics are important for all Transact-SQL developers because they help provide the broader development environment that Transact-SQL is a part of, that is so important to creating quality applications. If fact, some of the “philosophy” chapters were my favorite in the book.

Another chapter I really liked was “Performance Considerations.” While it is not a comprehensive discussion of SQL Server performance tuning, it provides the key performance facts developers need to be aware of when creating Transact-SQL applications.

I highly recommend this book to all people aspiring to become better Transact-SQL developers. Transact-SQL, as a language, is often accused of being a lightweight player. But this is not true. If you treat Transact-SQL like the real programming language that it is, it can be very powerful tool for developing enterprise-strength applications. Henderson’s book makes a very strong case for this, and I agree with him.


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