Review of SQL Video Training Course
Shawn M. Gordon
With the rise of relational databases and the implementation of SQL on most other data repositories, you may find yourself, as I did, having to learn something other than QUERY to get into your data base. Fortunately SQL was designed to be a common access language for data bases, the only real problem is learning SQL. Many people make the mistake of thinking SQL is a data base on it’s own, and often that it represents a relational database,this is not true, a data base need not be relational to support SQL access, look at IMAGE/SQL for example SQL stands for Structured Query Language, and it defines a command syntax that can be used to access any data repository that supports it.
All of this lead in for SQL is to justify this month’s review of the SQL Video Training Course from Programmers Tool Shed (PTS). The course requires Windows 3.1 and above plus a data base management system like Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Access, Gupta SQLBase, Oracle, or any ANSI compatible SQL, and a standard VHS video deck. It is perfect for developers going towards SQL. It will help you make effective use of the power inside of SQL. It will reveal some master tricks that you can use in your SQL applications to make them run efficiently. These tricks can also be used with IMAGE/SQL and ALLBASE on the HP 3000.
The course consists of a 74 minute standard VHS Video, one hard copy student work book is included, as well as one electronic version that you can print as many times as you like, and a bunch LOTUS Screen Cam files that you can view and hear to see examples of the SQL statements actually working. You will see the same examples that are use in the Video and hear a short narrative about each example. It is important that you have a sound card and speakers to make full use of the Lotus Screen Cam files.
By the end of this Course you should be able to use SQL to insert, delete and update data in tables. You will also be able to create or delete tables and indexes. The course is arranged into 13 modules, with each module covering a very specific topic. I will go over each module, what it’s called, what it covers, how long it takes, and anything relevant that I felt about the module. So here we go.
Module 1- What is a Relational Database. time 3 minutes 33 seconds
In this Module, the attributes of a Relational Database are explained, and you are shown how relational databases can be useful. As far as my background is concerned, this was quickly and concisely covered, with no wasted breath. This was true of all the
Module 2- SQL Overview. time 3 minutes
This Module acquaints you with the structure of the SQL language as well as with certain general issues, such as the types of data that fields can contain.
Module 3- The SELECT Command. time 13 minutes 8 seconds
In this Module, you are shown how to retrieve information from tables. It covers how to omit columns, how to reorder data, how to eliminate redundant data, and how to define a condition. The video examples off of the computer screen are very well done, with big easy to read text. This is the longest and most involved module, and the workbook sample data differs from the video sample data in a couple of spots. This was the only module where I noticed this discrepancy.
Module 4- Summarizing Data. time 4 minutes 48 seconds
Here you learn how to use aggregate functions like COUNT, AVG, SUM, MIN, MAX.
Module 5- Formatting Query Output. time 4 minutes 33 seconds
In this Module you extend your ability to work with the output produced by queries. You learn how to:
(a) Insert text and constants into the output
(b) How to use the selected fields in mathematical expressions and then output the results
(c) How to make the values you output emerge in a specified order.
Module 6- Joining Tables. time 4 minutes 41 seconds
In this Module you learn how to query any number of tables with a single command.
Module 7- Subqueries. time 9 minutes 45 seconds
Queries can control other queries. In this Module, you learn how this is done by placing a query inside of another query.
Module 8- Unions. time 3 minutes 51 seconds
In this Module we discuss Unions; where we can put multiple queries together and combine output.
Module 9- Inserting Data. time 2 minutes 53 seconds
This Module introduces you to the SQL commands that allow you to add, change and delete data in tables. When you are done, you will be able to insert rows into a table.
Module 10- Deleting Data. time 1 minute 18 seconds
When you are done with this Module, you will be able to delete rows in a table.
Module 11- Updating Data. time 2 minutes 18 seconds
When you are done with this Module, you will be able to update columns of a table.
Module 12- Managing Tables. time 6 minutes 19 seconds
In this Module, you learn how to create tables, change their structure, and delete them from a database. You also learn how to make your retrievals quicker and more efficient with Indexes.
Module 13- Who Can Do What. time 2 minutes 12 seconds
In this Module, you learn about Privileges.
I have to say that the use of the Lotus Screen Cam files is pretty cool. It uses a ‘stay on top’ control, so no matter what application you are in, you can run the Cam files quickly. I used it a lot during this review to recap points on the video quickly, which is basically what they are there for.
Usability (also installation)
The package is very simple to use, and having both a hard copy, and electronic version of the student work book is very nice. While the Lotus Screen Cam files are a very nice way to illustrate an example on the computer, for a novice it isn’t particularly intuitive what is required of you to play the files. However if you are at all familiar with standard Windows applications, you shouldn’t have a problem.
The PC side of the installation comes on four diskettes and follows the standard Windows installation routines. What is amazing, is that these four diskettes end up installing to about 14Meg worth of hard disk space. This is due to the sound files associated with Lotus Screen Cam, the are large and can compress up quit small. So even though the installation is only four diskettes, it can take a little while to totally install.
Well the tape plays, and the Lotus screen CAM files work fine, so reliability is a non-issue.
Performance doesn’t really equate here, but the Lotus screen CAM files move along nicely without causing you to have to sit and wait a lot. The video is well paced and easy to follow.
Supportability (including Doc)
Well this is a training guide, so this isn’t to big a deal. I called once because the card that talks about the installation, says the PC software will take about 14Meg, but the installation program said it was going to take 3Meg. This was a typo in the installation program as it turns out. The Student Work Book is nicely done, and easy to work with, and that is about the only documentation there is. The nice part about having the Student Work Book as a PC file is that you can print as many copies as you need or want.
Now the combination of video, and PC Cam files is rather interesting, but knowing which Cam files to play isn’t always obvious. The Student work book will guide you to the correct files, and once you become use to the Cam file naming conventions (which are logically laid out), you should have no problem. My only complaint here is that I couldn’t script a group of Cam files to play in sequence, and after a call to the company I found that there was no way to do this. The only downside to this is that it generates a little more work on your part to load and play each file.
The video is nicely done and takes your from the beginning
SQL Video Training Course
Programmers Tool Shed
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The price of the Course is $295 plus $5 shipping. You may use it as many times as you want; no royalties. It comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. Multiple copy discounts are available. Dealer inquiries are welcome are also welcome.