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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Reporting Services in Action (In Action series)
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: Teo Lachev
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great Book - Get it, you won't regret it

I've been developing with Reporting Services for about 6 months now, and have been snapping up any book that comes out on the subject. This is by FAR the best technical reference yet. I'm not so much interested in creating reports as I am in integrating Reporting Services into an Enterprise application, so I'm spending a lot of time working with Security and Data Extensions, as well as looking at the best way to use RS as part of current and future applications. With this book, the author looks not only at how things work in RS, but also spends a lot of time explaining alternatives and their strengths and weaknesses with relation to the real world.

All in all, I find this to be a great book, with an emphasis on practicality, and a much more pragmatic view than a number of the others currently available.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A First Look at Microsoft SQL Server 2005 for Developers
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Bob Beauchemin, Niels Berglund, Dan Sullivan
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Stored procedures and XML

Microsoft continues to integrate its SQL Server deeper into its .NET framework. One result is this book, with a heads-up on new features with a nominal release date of 2005. YOu can see a lot of changes.

Most significant, perhaps, is that the .NET CLR engine is now embedded into the SQL Server engine. So that stored procedures can now be written, and in several .NET languages, at that. Stored procedures are a key optimisation technique of sophisticated databases, so it is very good to see it here.

Hmm, I wonder. This book scrupulously avoids mentioning any rival databases. But at the low end, SQL Server has to ward off the free MySQL. The latter lacks stored procedures [for now]. So this lets Microsoft put some distance between them. Plus, above SQL Server in functionality sits Oracle and dB2. So stored procedures help close the gap here.

Another interesting note about the book is the sheer space devoted to integrating in XML. There is now a native XML data type in SQL Server. All relational databases are having to move towards handling XML. This also makes it harder for pure object oriented databases, like Versant, to make inroads when major databases like SQL Server handle XML.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Programming Microsoft .NET
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Jeff Prosise
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Fair to Good, but panders to MS

This book is informative and easy to follow. Jeff Prosise is a proven writer for windows technologies.
However, my biggest complaint is his constant pandering to Microsoft. I have lost track of how many times he writes how Microsoft revolutionized such and such industry, with such and such product. I am left with the distinct feeling that any short of shortcomings in the .net framework will be glossed over. It is unfortunate that I run into this so often when using Microsoft press publications.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes, Third Edition
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Ben Forta
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Where's MySQL?

I would give this book only one star, but because it did do a good job of explaining the SQL language, I'm going to give it two. Not once in this book did they explain MySQL, which is the most popular database used today. Also, the book did cover ASP a little, but no PHP. How can you have a book about SQL and not cover the topics of PHP and MySQL, even if for a brief moment. However, they did cover Microsoft SQL Server, a commercial database server which most people will never have to interact with, and of all things, Microsoft Query. I didn't even know Microsoft still did this. They also covered Oracle, another important DBMS, but again people, Oracle is something only encountered in a commercial world. It is a great system, but most of us will not have to worry about it. And finally, the title totally throws the readers off. It is impossible to learn SQL in ten minutes. Besides the fact that most people can't read an entire book in ten minutes, it's impossible to comprehend all the material the book gives you in ten minutes. But anyway, if you're looking to get some information on how to use SQL with MySQL, or if you plan to use PHP to connect to your database, DON'T BUY THIS BOOK! It will not help you at all.