Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Real World SQL and PL/SQL: Advice from the Experts

Because my hero is Cary Millsap, I'm going to do what he did and publish my foreword Preface. All joking aside, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been included in this project. I learned...a lot, by simply trying to find the author's mistakes (and there were not many). There was a lot more work than I expected, as well. (Technical) Editing is lot easier than writing, to be sure.

Brendan Tierney and Heli Helskyaho approached me in March 2015 about being an author on this book, along with Arup Nanda and Alex Nuijten. Soon after, we picked up Martin Widlake. To say that I was honored to be asked would be a gross understatement. Rather quickly though, I realized that I did not have the mental energy to devote to the project and didn’t want to put the other authors at risk. Still wanting to be part of the book, I suggested that I be the Technical Editor and they graciously accepted my new role.

This is my first official role as Technical Editor, but I’ve been doing it for years through work; checking my work, checking others work, etc. Having a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) helps greatly.

All testing was done with the pre-built Database App Development VM provided by OTN/Oracle which made things easy. Configuration for testing was simple with the instructions provided in those chapters that required it.

One of my biggest challenges was the multi-tenant architecture of Oracle 12c. I haven’t done DBA type work in a few years, so trying to figure out if I should be doing something in the root container (CDB) or the pluggable database (PDB) was fun. Other than that though, the instructions provided by the authors were pretty easy to follow.

Design (data modeling, Edition Based Redefinition, VPD), Security (Redaction/Masking, Encryption/Hashing), Coding (Reg Ex, PL/SQL, SQL), Instrumentation, and “Reporting” or turning that raw data into actionable information (Data Mining, Oracle R, Predictive Queries). These topics are covered in detail throughout this book. Everything a developer would need to build an application from scratch.

Probably my favorite part of this endeavor is that I was forced to do more than simply see if it works. Typically when reading a book, or blog entry, I’ll grab the technical solution and move on often skipping the Why, When, and Where. How, to me, is relatively easy. I read AskTom daily for many years, it was my way of taking a break without getting in trouble. At first, it was to see how particular solutions were solved, occasionally using it for my own problems. After a year or two, I wanted to understand the Why of doing it a certain way and would look for those responses where Tom provided insight into his approach.

That’s what I got reviewing this book. I was allowed into their minds, to not only see How they solved technical problems, but Why. This is invaluable for developer’s and DBAs. Most of us can figure out How to solve specific technical issues, but to reach that next level we need to understand the Why, When and Where. This book provides that.