Learning MySQL is geared toward those people who don't know a lot about deploying and using a database management system, or about developing applications that use a database. By using MySQL, the leader of open source database management systems, along with the PHP and Perl programming languages and this book, the authors attempt to provide a readable introduction to managing data.
The book has 18 chapters divided into six parts. To work with this book you will need a computer that is running Window, Linux or the Mac OS X operating system; a web server, the one introduced here is the Apache web server; and the PHP and Perl languages for programming specific tasks to MySQL. Each of these is available for free on the web, and described in the book in the introduction.
Part one provides the overview of the book's content and focus. The authors describe how MySQL fits into the realm of information management tools and technologies. They explain how to set up your system and how to configure the software on differing systems. Finally they introduce the text-based interface to MySQL Server and how you can use it to control almost every aspect of the program.
Part two, Using MySQL, begins with the how-to of proper database design. You will learn how to determine what features your database will need and how items relate to each other. You will learn how to read data from existing databases, how to create new databases, what queries are, how to use them and how to nest them. You will find out about importing and exporting data as well as internal information on how MySQL process a query. You will also be given an overview of how to prevent unauthorized access to your data.
Part three, Advanced Topics, will teach you how to back-up your data and how to recover from a loss if your hardware does crash. You will learn how to use configuration files to fine tune the behavior of your MySQL server. It is here that you will also discover performance tips that can improve your overall performance.
Part four, Web Database Applications with PHP, will explore the world of database applications beginning with an introduction of the PHP language and how it can be used to work with your MySQL database. Then the authors, by designing a wedding gift registry, will show you the basics of designing your application.
Part five, Interacting with MySQL Using Perl, present an easy to use introduction to the Pearl programming language. By using the Perl DBI module to connect to MySQL data, you can import, export as well as store and read information. They finish up by creating a Perl CGI module to create dynamic web pages that can interface with a MySQL database.
Finally there is an appendix that contains the entire source for the wedding gift registry. You can also download the source as well as other items such as useful links, feedback and errata found in the book.
If you are wanting to learn how to work with databases and feel intimidated, Learning MySQL may be just the ticket. It is well written, easy to understand and develops in a logical, easy to follow manner. By the time you get through the book, you will have a good overview of SQL databases in general.
If like me, you are not a PGP/Perl programmer and, don't really want to be, there is still almost 400 of the 560 non-appendix, non-index pages, that deal directly with setting up and running a MySQL server, and who knows, your eyes might drift and you may end up learning PGP or Perl anyway.
If I had one complaint, it would be the appendix containing the source for the application. It is a personal pet peeve of computer books that I have had for almost 20 years. Put it on a disk, put it on the web, just don't put it in a book. I would have preferred to have a summary of commands as the appendix.
That being said, I think that if you want to get a good solid foundation into how to build MySQL server databases, manage and manipulate them, then Learning MySQL should be on your shelf.