Pick Of The Shelf - SQL Server
Written by Kay Ewbank   
Thursday, 30 August 2018
Article Index
Pick Of The Shelf - SQL Server
SQL Server for Developers
Breadth and Depth
Internals and Externals

SQL Server is such a large collection of programs and services that it will be no surprise to anyone who works with it that we've given it a bookshelf all to itself. 

It's unlikely that anyone will find every book we've covered to be useful, because what you need to know as a developer won't necessarily cover aspects such as administration or the more obscure services.

However, we do review books across the SQL Server spectrum because some developers do end up needing to know about OLTP, Integration Services or Concurrency (to name but three areas). Some titles have been around for several years and in theory are aimed at SQL Server 2012. Where they are still relevant and haven't been updated, we've kept them on the shelf.



When it comes to books, I Programmer's mission is to provide unbiased reviews that you can trust - and they are written by those who use and understand the technologies concerned. Although we can only cover a fraction of the new programming books published, we try to include those that seem important and topical and this means we end up reading some that are dull and boring and even find some that are capable of misleading and confusing the reader.

For Programmer's Bookshelf, however, we pick only the best and recommend the books you might find helpful at different stages in your personal development. If you want to read more of the original review click in the link in each title.


Getting Started

These books introduce the core topics of both SQL Server and databases in general.

Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2016 is a free eBook that aims to introduce you to the salient new and enhanced features in SQL Server 2016. It is subtitled Mission-Critical Applications, Deeper Insights, Hyperscale Cloud, and is aimed at DBAs, developers, architects, and technical-managers. It assumes some existing knowledge of SQL Server (perhaps at least one year of experience).


Awarding it 4.8 stars, Ian Stirk concluded that the book succeeds easily in its aim, being generally easy to read, with useful explanations, tips, example code, diagrams, and links for further information. However, it doesn’t spend much time explaining the basics. Overall, if you want to know more about the new and enhanced features in SQL Server 2016, Ian highly recommends this free book.

When you pick up a book with a title such as "Relational Database Design and Implementation", you probably don’t settle back with the thought that this will be fun. Not even if you’re a true database enthusiast. However, Kay Ewbank recommends this book wholeheartedly if you need to know about how to design a database from a programmer’s viewpoint, awarding it a maximum 5 star rating.

Pro SQL Server Relational Database Design and Implementation starts from fundamentals of database design, and goes as far as topics such as coding for concurrency, stored procedures versus ad-hoc SQL, and the integration of T-SQL with CLR, the Common Language Runtime, which lets you use the.NET CLR engine within SQL Server. Kay concludes:
the author’s knowledge of SQL Server and database design is first class, and he writes as though he was chatting to you over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer. He’s not afraid to give you his own personal take on a topic, and his descriptions are clear and lucid. The subject matter might not be a topic you’d think would make for an interesting read, but the author manages it.

While we reviewed the version for 2012, there's an updated version covering SQL Server 2016 that also covers in-memory online transaction processing, temporal data storage, row-level security, and durability enhancements to SQL Server 2016.

Pro SQL Server Administration is a book is aimed at existing DBAs, and perhaps curious developers, who want to know the capabilities of SQL Server 2014, though most of the material is equally relevant to later releases of SQL Server.  Awarding it a maximum five stars, Ian Stirk described it as a big, wide-ranging book, containing plenty of real-life advice and experience with sensible and practical guidance.



In conclusion, Ian said:

"I’ve reviewed more than 30 SQL Server books over the last three years, and this is the best SQL Server administration book I’ve read. The author is to be congratulated on his diligence."


Awarding 4.8 stars to Professional Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Administration, Ian Stirk noted that the ‘professional’ moniker of the title purports this is not a book for beginners, instead it is aimed at experienced DBAs and SQL developers.


This book has a very wide scope. It is generally easy to read, with a good balance between theory and step-by-step example walkthroughs, together with good use of screenshots. Most chapters have sufficient detail to take you from level 3 expertise to level 7 or 8 expertise (based on a 1 to 10 scale).

However, Ian noted that although many topics are covered, it some ways the book felt lightweight - this is not really a fault of the book, rather that SQL Server 2014 is a big product. In conclusion, he said that if you want a good, wide ranging, general SQL Server 2014 administration book, he can certainly recommend this book.

Troubleshooting SQL Server - A Guide for the Accidental DBA is  aimed at people who find themselves responsible for keeping a SQL Server up and running when it’s not really their job to do so. The premise behind the book’s title is that many DBA roles are filled accidentally, often by the developer that has the most database knowledge. The book aims to help the accidental DBA overcome the most common problems, and has information on versions of SQL Server from 2005 onwards. It’s a fairly short book with useful links for further reading. Most of the book is essentially a guide to performance tuning and troubleshooting, with some coverage of admin related issues.


The book is organized into chapters based on resource, for example High CPU Utilization. This is ideal for finding the relevant section to your particular problem and its solutions, but Ian Stirk says in some places leads to a disorganized book, with tools being used to solve problems before they’re discussed in detail. Overall, though, he recommends the book as a useful resource, giving it a rating of 4.5.









Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 March 2021 )