UK Oracle User Group

Book review: Oracle Database 12c PL/SQL Programming

1 May 2015

I believe that this book delivers value for both the novice and the more experienced developer.

Each year McGraw Hill offer our members free books in return for an honest review of the content.

One of the books available to our members for review this year was Oracle Database 12c - The Complete Reference by Bob Bryla and Kebin Loney.

Read our members' reviews of this book below to decide whether or not it will be worth your investment in this title.

Andrew Davies of BAE Systems gave the book 4 out of 5 stars

This is a hefty treatise on PL/SQL in the 12c database nearly 1200 pages long. It is well put together and written in a very friendly and readable style without being belittling.
The book is broken down into three parts:

Part 1 covers the history and origins of PL/SQL, new features for 12c, the basics of PL/SQL programming, fundamentals of the PL/SQL language, controlling flow, dealing with collections, and error and exception management.
Part 2 covers programming with functions and procedures, packages, dealing with Oracle's implementations of large objects, objects, triggers and dynamic SQL.
Part 3 is a set of appendices that spans almost half of the book and includes a primer on the database, its architecture, and tools useful to the developer like tuning and tracing. It also has a primer on SQL, new built-in packages, a primer on dealing with regular expressions, wrapping PL/SQL, the hierarchical profile primer and finally an alphabetical reference of reserved words and keywords.

Each chapter provides an explanation of the content under discussion, example code with the related output, reviews after each section and self-check questions of which some are True/False and others are multiple choice. The answers are provided in the final appendix and are broken down chapter by chapter.

To me one of the measures of the structure of a good reference book is how comprehensive the index is. In this case it is 54 pages long and the eBook version includes clickable page numbers, a small feature but very handy in a book of this size (why isn't this done more in other books??).

Other reviewers have cited inaccuracies in some of the syntax. I haven't checked every example but my own experiences tell me that technical books such as this are rarely without inaccuracies. I wouldn't let that stop me from buying the book, though, or I'd never buy any technical references. Anyone who is a seasoned programmer knows to go to the online Oracle documentation on OTN for specific, in-depth detail of implementations; and for those that aren't but want to be they need books like this to help guide them on that journey.

In my view this is a useful reference book for any 12c PL/SQL developer and for anyone new to PL/SQL development it provides sufficient hand holding to give a route through the jargon but I think it is best used in conjunction with the Oracle documentation, not as a replacement. Bear in mind, it is an explanatory reference book and not a tutorial even though it is written in a very accessible form. For anyone completely new to programming it probably isn't suitable. However, for the moderately experienced programmer in any language that wants to understand how to program in PL/SQL this is a valuable addition to the bookshelf.

Julian Hayward of Mass Consultants gave the book 4 out of 5 stars

It is evident, from the first few pages, that Michael McLaughlin is an experienced lecturer/trainer, with an extensive knowledge of the subject. The content is delivered in a traditional teaching method, beginning with history and basics then progressively delving deeper into each subject area.

This book is presented in two parts. Part one is a content rich walk through PL/SQL features available in Oracle Database 12c. Part 2 is made up of Appendices offering an opportunity to explore PL/SQL features in greater depth. In part one, all topics are well supported, but not overwhelmed, by examples which clearly illustrate the features being described. More examples are available in the extensive appendices which expand on the topics covered in part one of this book. This layout makes the book significantly easier to read than many technical publications, avoiding the pitfalls of becoming bogged down in too much detail.

I believe that this book delivers value for both the novice and the more experienced developer. The novice will discover an excellent learning tool and the experienced developer a library of useful tips and examples to refer to. I would recommend Michael McLaughlin’s book to all who want to learn PL/SQL or need a handy PL/SQL reference book.


To see other reviews of this Oracle title on Amazon, please go here

If you are a UKOUG member and would like to review Oracle books on behalf of other UKOUG members then keep your eye on this page of our website for future available book review opportunities. We'd like to thank McGraw Hill for giving our members the opportunity to do this and a huge thanks also goes to Andrew and Julian for taking the time to review the content of this book. We hope you'll find their insights helpful.

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