Date's "Database in Depth" (was: Class::DBI etc)

Chris Benson chrisb at
Mon Jun 26 22:14:56 BST 2006

On Mon, Jun 26, 2006 at 09:37:13PM +0100, ti at wrote:
> Well. Encouraged by Dave's glowing review, I bought "Database in
> Depth...", and read it. Well, some of it. I suppose is as good as
> anywhere for somewhere to put my reactions.
> I, personally, found it neither lovely, nor great. I'm kind of hoping
> someone on will read this and say "Aha, the thing you're missing is
> [...]", at which point the lights will go on, and I'll see what I missed
> the first time round. (Yeah, I know, fat chance).

Well. Encouraged by Dave's glowing review, I got the sample chapter
(#1 Introduction) from  Further encouraged by the bright and 
colourful cover page, I read it on the Metro home this afternoon.

I have to say it's one of the strangest introductions I've read for a
long time: it brings visions of Sergeant Majors addressing the new

I was a bit tempted to buy it for people at work, because it's sometimes
interesting seeing other people being frog-marched around a parade-ground.
But being of a post-National Service generation I suspect they wouldn't
get very far -- no discipline these days.  And I'd be a little worried
in case CJD picked on me instead!
> There is a lot in here about relational theory, but Date seems to have a
> strong tendency to nudge against something interesting and then zoom off
> in the opposite direction. For example, when he's talking in Chapter 1
> about relvars: imagine a variable that contains the state of a table at a
> point in time. He's suggesting being able to do things like this:
>   people := people WHERE NOT name = "Thatcher";

I thought he was saying that's what (SQL)DELETE does -- but this is the
(proper) relational way of writing it.


Thanks for your comments about the book.  After the intro I was still
vaguely interested - I know that RDBMS are more than SQL and would like
a better theoretical grounding, preferably without too much maths. But
this appears to have a lot of (unjustified?) opinion and I'm not sure I
could cope with a whole book of parade-ground harranging.
Chris Benson

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