Editors: Karen Delaney, Louis Davidson, Greg Low, Brad McGehee, Paul Nielsen, Paul Randal, Kimberley Tripp
Publisher: Manning, 2011
Aimed at: SQL Server administrators and developers
Pros: Wide range of topics looking at SQL Server from the expert’s viewpoint
Cons: Some chapters a bit lightweight; wide spread of material means you are unlikely to want to read all of it
Reviewed by: Kay Ewbank
As you will gather from the title, this is the second book following on from the original SQL Server Deep Dives. The idea behind both books is the same; SQL Server MVPs contribute material about SQL Server for a book and the profits from which go to a charity. In the case of Volume 2, the charity chosen is Operation Smile, which helps young people born with cleft lips and palates.
The book is organised into 60 chapters arranged in five parts - database architecture and design, database development, database administration, performance tuning and optimization, and business intelligence.
If you’ve seen volume 1, you’ll know the type of material you’re likely to encounter, though this second volume is more strictly managed. In volume 1 there were some very long entries, others that were startlingly short. This time, the editors have kept the individual entries more regimented in terms of length. This means you’re not going to get the very detailed descriptions of some of the entries in the previous volume. What does remain the same is that you get some interesting concepts and some discussions that can be called deep dives. For example, there’s a chapter on writing queries for relational divisions that goes well into the nitty gritty, and the chapter on parameter sniffing and how it can go wrong is interesting.
What I like about the book is the wide range of topics; the fact that in the same book as parameter sniffing you can read about SQL Server cost recovery, or High availability of SQL Server in the context of Service Level Agreements makes this a great book to dip in and out of. Of course, there will be few companies where the same person needs to worry about all the aspects covered, and that is the weakness of the book. If you need to write queries that split your data using relational divisions, you’re probably not that concerned about cost recovery. You may also feel that most of the really ‘wow, amazing’ topics were written about in volume one. I think that would be an unfair conclusion, but there’s a hint of truth about it.
As developers, you’re most probably interested in the section on database development. The chapters in this section cover T-SQL (bad habits that you should kick, and writing unit tests); UDFs; SSMS; Service Broker; HierarchyID data types; relational division; and extracting data with regular expressions. There are also some interesting chapters in the section on performance tuning and optimization that could give you some useful ideas.
I don’t think this book is quite as good as volume one, partly because it’s more professionally edited, if that makes sense. The writers in the original volume were given free reign to expand (sometimes for too long) on their pet hobby horse of a SQL idea; in this volume, someone has put the reins on a little. However, it’s still a fascinating book with some really good chapters. There are a few chapters that are just too lightweight, but it still makes an interesting read.