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The ACCU passes on review copies of computer books to its members for them to review. The result is a large, high quality collection of book reviews by programmers, for programmers. Currently there are 1949 reviews in the database and more every month.
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Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2000
Kalen Delaney
Microsoft Press
1046 pp
£40.99 $59.
Christopher Hill
Appeared in:
To use a relational database effectively and efficiently requires time, skill and much understanding of the underlying database engine.

There are many books that show how to construct SQL statements, and give indications on query optimisation and performance issues, but in the main I have found these books to be so broad brush and general to be of little practical use.

This book covers Microsoft SQL Server 2000 in very great, and in some places, surprising detail.

The author describes the evolution and architecture of SQL Server 2000 along with considerable detail about installation and deployment issues.

When describing databases, files and tables, the author touches on the usual language constructs, but concentrates on the performance issues, and the SQL Server extensions. The author does not like NULL and she goes to great lengths to get around the problems that NULL solves by not using NULL, which strikes me as a very unusual approach to take. I assume that her training background influences her in this approach.

An unexpected aspect of the text is the description, down to the individual bit level, of the structure of data and index pages in the database. As a database user, even as a database designer, this information is way over and above the call of duty. But having an in-depth understanding does allow the expert database designer to make the most of the system. For example this sort of information helps to appreciate the costs and benefits of variable length fields vs. fixed length fields (they both have costs and benefits!)

Over two hundred pages are given over to performance and tuning; again in-depth insights into how to extract the maximum performance from the database. There are whole chapters on Locking, the Query Processor, and Query Tuning.

The book comes with two CDs containing a 120-day evaluation copy of SQL Server 2000; searchable copy of the book; sample scripts; white papers; tools and utilities.

The writing style is clear and engaging, supported by good examples and clear diagrams. This book is not for the SQL rookie, but will provide much food for thought to the experienced database designer and user. Highly recommended.