Feb 272015

Following the database design championship playoff over on the PL/SQL Challenge, one player asked:

“Could you please advise me some resources (boooks, courses) so that I can improve?”

Of course I can! This is what I love to hear – people looking for resources they can use to increase their skills. This is information I’m sure others will benefit from, so here goes:

select materials
from   my_readings
where  topic = 'Database design';

I’ve found The Database Programmer blog to be immensely helpful for explaining normal forms and constraints. This provided the inspiration for the “shift patterns” question using the school class schema developed aross the “Table Design Patterns” series.

Another fun paper for explaining normalization is “Data Normalization, Denormalization and the Forces of Darkness

Many people struggled with the orders “physical co-locating data” question. The inspiration for that question came from a number of places:

* Martin Widlake’s IOT series
* Iggy Fernandez’s “No to SQL and No to NoSQL” which has an example using table clusters at the bottom. His “The Twelve Days of NoSQL” series on the same blog also provides great ideas.
* The Data Warehouse Insider Blog article on attribute clustering

One key thing to remember is that physical data location can matter hugely for database performance. Unfortunately this is one area that people often overlook. The lack of index-organized tables in most Oracle databases is a great example of this.

To understand more about indexing – particularly across different database platforms – Use the Index, Luke! is a great site. If you really want to understand indexes in Oracle, take a look at Richard Foote’s blog (note – this does get very detailed!).

Of course, no list about designing for Oracle would be complete without Tom Kyte’s books. Reading these helped me understand how Oracle functions.

Finally I have to wrap up with a quick nod to the Oracle docs. Not exactly bedtime reading, but skimming through topics there has provided inspiration for a number of questions on the PL/SQL Challenge. :)

Of course this isn’t a complete list (that would span many pages!). These are some of the resources I’ve found most useful (and refer back to often).

So I’d like to hear from you. Which resources have you found most valuable when it comes to learning about designing (Oracle) databases? Please share your thoughts in the comments – I’d love to hear what other people have found useful.

  4 Responses to “Database design resources: My reading list”

  1. Hey, thanks for the mention! And in such rarefied company too. I’m very happy that you feel I’ve contributed. I’ve recently done a presentation on physically grouping data (which of course includes IOTs), maybe I should convert that into a set of blog posts too.

    • Your welcome Martin – I found the IOT series very useful when I read it a few years back. A blog series on physically grouping data sounds great. It’s an area that almost always overlooked in DB dev (in my experience).

  2. Great list – thank you for sharing!

    I also like this paper on the first 5 normal forms: William Kent, “A Simple Guide to Five Normal Forms in Relational Database Theory”, Communications of the ACM 26(2), Feb. 1983 – online at http://www.bkent.net/Doc/simple5.htm . Dating back to 1983, it must be one of the first attempts to explain normal forms.

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