Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL: From Novice to Professional - PDF

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Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL: From Novice to Professional by Neil Matthew

Welcome to Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL.

Early in our careers, we came to recognize the qualities of open-source software. Not only is it often completely free to use, but it can also be of extremely high quality. If you have a problem, you can examine the source code to see how it works. If you find a bug, you can fix it yourself or pass it on to someone else to fix it for you. We have been working with open-source software since 1978 or so, including using the wonderful GNU tools, including GNU Emacs and GCC. We started using Linux in 1993 and have been delighted to be able to create a complete, free computing environment using a Linux kernel and the GNU tools, together with the X Window System, to provide a graphical user interface. PostgreSQL fits beautifully with this, providing an exceptional database system that adheres to the same open-source principles. (For more on open source and the freedom it can bring, please visit http://www.opensource (dot) org.)


Databases are remarkably useful things. Many people find a “desktop database” useful for small applications in the office and around the home. Many web sites are data-driven, with content being extracted from databases behind the web server. As databases are becoming ubiquitous, we feel that there is a need for a book that includes some database theory and teaches good practice.


We have written this book to be a general introduction to databases, with broad coverage of the range of capabilities that modern, relational database systems have and how to use them effectively. With PostgreSQL as their database system, no one has an excuse for not doing things “properly.” It supports good database design, is resilient and scalable, and runs on just about every type of computer you can think of, including Linux, UNIX, Windows, Mac OS X, AIX, Solaris, and HP-UX.


Oh, in case you were wondering, PostgreSQL is pronounced “post-gres-cue-el” (not “post-gray-ess-cue-el”).


The book is roughly divided into thirds. The first part covers getting started, both with databases in general (what they are and what they are useful for) and with PostgreSQL in particular (how to obtain it, install it, start it, and use it). If you follow along with the examples, by the end of Chapter 5, you will have built your first working database and be able to use several tools to do useful things with it, such as entering data and executing queries.


The second part of the book explores in some depth the heart of relational databases: the query language SQL. Through sample programs and “Try It Out” sections, you will learn many aspects of database programming, ranging from simple data insertions and updates, through powerful types of queries, to extending the database server functionality with stored procedures and triggers. A great deal of the material in this section is database-independent, so knowledge gained here will stand you in good stead if you need to develop with another type of database. Of course, all of the material is illustrated with examples using PostgreSQL and a sample database. Chapters on PostgreSQL system administration and good practice in database design complete this section.


The third part of the book concentrates on harnessing the power of PostgreSQL in your own programs. These chapters cover connecting to a database, executing queries, and dealing with the results using a wide range of programming languages. Whether you are developing a dynamic web site with PHP or Perl, an enterprise application in Java or C#, or a client program in C, you will find a chapter to help you.


This is the second edition of Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL; the first edition was published by Wrox Press in 2001. Since then, every chapter has been updated with material to cover the latest version of PostgreSQL, version 8. We have taken the opportunity in this edition to add a new chapter on accessing PostgreSQL from the C# language to complement revised chapters covering C, Perl, PHP, and Java.


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