May 21, 2013

PostgreSQL | "Instant PostgreSQL Starter" review

Instant PostgreSQL Starter

Having recently posted some thoughts on Shaun Thomas' ""PostgreSQL Backup and Restore How-to" review", Packt asked me if I'd like to review the new "Instant PostgreSQL Starter" by Daniel K. Lyons and kindly provided me with access to the ebook version. As I'm happily in a situation where I may need to introduce PostgreSQL to new users, I was interested in taking a look and here's a quick overview.

It follows the same "Instant" format as the backup booklet, which I quite like as it provides a useful way of focussing on particular aspects of PostgreSQL without being bogged down in reams of tl;dr documentation.  "Instant Pg Starter" is divided into three sections:

  • Installation
  • Quick start – creating your first table
  • Top 9 features you need to know about

Having read through it a couple of times, it's clear this booklet tries to pack in a lot for the compact format, but could be improved with more focus on whether it wants to be a "PostgreSQL introduction" or an "SQL introduction". Also, the "Top 9 features" section (which accounts for more than half of the pages) could potentially do with some reorientation, as it follows on from the basic SQL introduction with a dive into some quite advanced feature descriptions. In particular, two pages of this short booklet are devoted to the pgcrypto extension module, which is maybe not essential for the typical beginner.

There are a couple of editorial oversights: the blurb at the start promises to show how to "import and export data to CSV" but there is no further mention of CSV, while the website claims it shows how to "Make use of Redis for cloud development" but I suspect they mean the section on hstore.

If there's one suggestion for improvement I would make, it would be to split this booklet into three, each more tightly focussed along these lines:

  • Introduction to PostgreSQL - for people familiar with the general concept of databases who want a quick rundown on PostgreSQL's specifics, including installation, configuration, basic tuning user management, psql and pgAdmin introduction etc.
  • Introduction to SQL using PostgreSQL for people who know nothing about SQL and want to learn on a reasonably standards-compliant database
  • PostgreSQL Extensions - an overview of installing/managing them, and an introduction to the most useful ones

I do look forward to seeing more booklets in this series for PostgreSQL.

Posted at 2:35 PM