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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Agile Database Techniques : Effective Strategies for the Agile Software Developer (Wiley Application Development S.)
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Scott Ambler
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A book for all seasons--and programmers and DBAs

Scott Ambler is uniquely qualified to write this book. He started his software life as a data modeler, and is now an industry thought-leader in agile, object-oriented software development practices. He wrote Agile Database Techniques to address a single issue that he is obviously passionate about: is it possible for data professionals to develop their data in an evolutionary way? Ambler answers this question with a resounding "yes"! And his book is a manifesto on how the data and object communities can lay down their weapons and join forces to create better software.
Part One addresses the basics of agile development, database concepts and data normalization, object concepts and object normalization - which may be a new concept to some readers. If you are not a data person, you will get a good introduction to the data world-view. If you are not an object person, you will gain insight into why object people see the world from a behavioral view, not the data-centric view. What I found appealing was Ambler's willingness to leave out all the fluff and deliver just enough detail to equip us to move to the next part of his presentation: Evolutionary Database Development.
This second part of the book covers *a lot* of ground. After a well-crafted appeal for flexibility as a major success factor in software development, Ambler introduces the principles and practices of his own "Agile Model-Driven Development" approach, then a concise discussion of Test-Driven Development, also known as "test-first programming". This is a very brief chapter, and I wish Ambler had developed these concepts a bit more, but he has much bigger fish to fry in this book. His discussion of the need for, and practices of, database refactoring will be provocative for many data people. In my own consulting experience the "rot" or "smell" of database entropy is everywhere. The rigor of the original data models is lost under the pressure of schedule, or the inertia of inexperienced persons not taking the time to think about the downstream effects of reusing a table column for an obscure and transient purpose...which soon becomes permanent. The most significant chapter in the second part discusses mapping objects to relational databases. Ambler has written often and extensively about the object-relational "impedance mismatch", and this chapter offers the programmer and DBA much to think about.
A theme that runs throughout the entire book is what Ambler calls the "role of the agile DBA". These brief discussions, almost sidebars in their presentation, are aimed squarely at DBAs working on agile, OO projects. Most OO developers will kill for a DBA who actually supports the software effort rather than being an institutionalized impediment. Ambler's tips to the "agile DBA" are worth the price of the book, IMHO.
Part 3 is a collage of database concepts that are essential for software developers to understand if they are to be successful as a programming and data team. The topics include referential integrity, access control, concurrency issues and control, transactions and their ACID properties, with a brief discussion of both database transactions and object transactions -- and they are not the same. Very important stuff, and it is my experience that many application programmers have only the barest understanding of these critical technical issues--especially data-specific issues such as two-phase commits. It's all here.
The last part of the book reflects the beginning: how can you become agile, and how can you bring agility into your organization? Ahh, this is going to be hard for some people, and some companies. But it can be done, if approached patiently, with sensitivity for your existing corporate culture. And the reality of the cultural mismatch is something Ambler addresses throughout this book. This is why he calls the agile DBA a "peacemaker". This is why he calls upon us to be "generalizing specialists", so we can see that there is more to software than objects, and certainly more than data alone.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Andre Lamothe
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great book! More than enough to get you started

I had been programming in C++ for a while when i started to read this book, and it's helped me go from knowing barely anything about game programming to being able to write simple games (and i'm only on chapter 5!!) a definate buy for the beginner programmer, but more experienced game programmers might want to look somewhere else.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Elizabeth Castro
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I agree - it's the best!

This book didn't get 4 1/2 stars out of 5 for no reason. It's simply the best book on HTML out there (and I've perused a dozen or so!)
The Visual QuickStart Series is a very good one to begin with but Elizabeth Castro simply makes it better. Her information is complete, concise and easy to follow.
I get upset when my 19 year old son borrows (and then hides) this book from me. I try to use other books for basic reference info but they simply don't compare to Castro's. (Guess I'll have to get him his own copy)
I too lament the fact that 5 stars is the highest rating that I can give this book!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: David Flanagan
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Title Says it all

This book was perfect as a "learning" book and a refernce manual. I read the book, learning by examples and excellent descriptions. Now I use the book almost everyday as a reference when I develope web applications. Roughly half of the book is a complete reference manual focusing on the syntax, methods, and properties of ALL of the Javascript components. The reference is organized by Object making it easy to find what you want. There are also plenty of cross references for easy indexing. O'Reilly has done it again.