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Manga Review: The Manga Guide to Databases by Mana Takahashi

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Though I'd heard about the Manga Guide series from No Starch Press, I had not yet had an opportunity to check out any of the books in the series. So when I saw The Manga Guide to Databases, as a developer who mostly deals with databases I knew I had to give it a go.

The first thing I noticed upon cracking this book was the straightforward manner in which information is presented. As an occasional comic book reader, I was concerned that the book may create unnecessary complications in presenting the information in comic/manga form. But I quickly found myself drawn into the story of Princess Ruruna, Cain, and the Kingdom of Kod's issues with data management.

The story serves as an entry point into the many points made throughout the book. The Kingdom of Kod sells many different fruits, and between the Merchandise Department, the Overseas Business Department, and the Export Department, the prices of the various fruits were being messed up as they were managed in three separate places.

Throughout the book, the characters are taught database concepts and how to apply those concepts by Tico, the magical database fairy. As a person who already had knowledge of how to use databases, I was intrigued by the no-nonsense way that this fun book presented the concepts. I wish Tico was around to help me when I was learning the basics about databases!

For many non-technical people, databases are a type of black magic. And yet, databases are used everywhere and can be useful in a huge number of applications. So it's good to have a simple, yet effective manner for educating many people. I see this book as being very easy to work into beginning college courses or training courses as a gentle introduction to the many concepts involved.

In case you're worried that the book is entirely in manga form, I can assure you that isn't the case. Each chapter has an introductory set of pages in manga form, and then a number of pages that use text and illustrations to reinforce what was discussed in the first part of the chapter. This provides not only a fun way to get comfortable with the concepts, but also a well written summary of those concepts to make sure you understand them before you move on.

As Tico works her way through the process, she introduces the Princess and her assistant Cain to:

  • What a database is – a system in which data is shared by everyone
  • The basic components of a database – each type of fruit has one record that is broken out into fields such as product code, product name, unit price, and so on
  • And then how do you apply that to a relational database, which most of today's databases happen to be — each table in a relational database consists of a series of rows (records) and columns (fields)

From there, Tico explains deeper concepts, such as:

  • How to extract data from a relational database using set and relational operations
  • Use database security, user permissions, and transactions to avoid conflicting data operations
  • And how to use SQL to insert data or retrieve it to generate various types of reports from one or more tables

If I was going to teach a class or introduce a non-technical person to the world of databases, I would most likely start here. The Manga Guide to Databases not only walks you through general database concepts, but reinforces those concepts with a concrete example that is easily expanded to cover more in-depth topics such as indexing, disaster recovery, and replication.

If you're looking for a great introduction to databases, The Manga Guide to Databases is the book for you!

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About Fitz

Fitz is a software engineer and writer who lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with his family and pets, trying to survive the chaos!
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