Time was, all database design books were packed with mathematics and jargon. You’d be up to your neck in normal forms before you even had a chance to wade. When Michael J. Hernandez needed a database design book to teach “mere mortals” like himself, there were none. So he began a personal quest to learn enough to write one. And he did.
Now in its Second Edition, Database Design for Mere Mortals is a miracle for today’s generation of database users who don’t have the background -- or the time -- to learn database design the hard way. It’s also a secret pleasure for working pros who are occasionally still trying to figure out what they were taught.
Drawing on 13 years of database teaching experience, Hernandez has organized database design into several key principles that are surprisingly easy to understand and remember. He illuminates those principles using examples that are generic enough to help you with virtually any application.
Hernandez’s goals are simple. You’ll learn how to create a sound database structure as easily as possible. You’ll learn how to optimize your structure for efficiency and data integrity. You’ll learn how to avoid problems like missing, incorrect, mismatched, or inaccurate data. You’ll learn how to relate tables together to make it possible to get whatever answers you need in the future -- even if you haven’t thought of the questions yet.
If -- as is often the case -- you already have a database, Hernandez explains how to analyze it -- and leverage it. You’ll learn how to identify new information requirements, determine new business rules that need to be applied, and apply them.
Hernandez starts with an introduction to databases, relational databases, and the idea and objectives of database design. Next, you’ll walk through the key elements of the database design process: establishing table structures and relationships, assigning primary keys, setting field specifications, and setting up views. Hernandez’s extensive coverage of data integrity includes a full chapter on establishing business rules and using validation tables.
Hernandez surveys bad design techniques in a chapter on what not to do -- and finally, helps you identify those rare instances when it makes sense to bend or even break the conventional rules of database design.
There’s plenty that’s new in this edition. Hernandez has gone over his text and illustrations with a fine-tooth comb to improve their already impressive clarity. You’ll find updates to reflect new advances in technology, including web database applications. There are expanded and improved discussions of nulls and many-to-many relationships; multivalued fields; primary keys; and SQL data type fields. There’s a new Quick Reference database design flowchart. A new glossary. New review questions at the end of every chapter.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning what this book isn’t. It isn’t a guide to any specific database platform -- so you can use it whether you’re running Access, SQL Server, or Oracle, MySQL or PostgreSQL. And it isn’t an SQL guide. (If that’s what you need, Michael J. Hernandez has also coauthored the superb SQL Queries for Mere Mortals). But if database design is what you need to learn, this book’s worth its weight in gold. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.