Thursday, May 29, 2014

Resources for New PL/SQL Developers

Just received this question in my In Box:

"Which book do you recommend for people, brand new to PL/SQL? Assume the user is already familiar with SQL and now wants to start programming in Oracle."

First, I must confess that I spend too little time thinking about and being in contact with developers who are brand-new to PL/SQL. That is something I need to and plan to correct, especially given that when I search on "PL/SQL" in search engines, 3-4 of the top 10 hits are for tutorial sites. There is clearly a demand. 

Until I put together my own set of tutorials, however, I thought I would offer the following:

Books

Oracle PL/SQL for Dummies

Written by my good friends and really outstanding Oracle technologists, Michael Rosnblum and Paul Dorsey of Dulcian. These guys really know their stuff and have put together an accessible text.

Learning Oracle PL/SQL

Written primarily by my co-author on the massive Oracle PL/SQL Programming, Bill Pribyl, this book is, admittedly, dated, but since the fundamentals of PL/SQL haven't changed (ever!), I believe you can still benefit from this text.

Beginning PL/SQL From Novice to Professional

I confess: I have not read this book, but the author, Don Bales, knows his stuff well and I am sure you will find the book helpful.

So those are books targeting beginners. Having said that, for anyone who has ever programmed in any language, you will find PL/SQL to be quite straightforward. So if the idea of programming and the concepts of loop, case, exception handling, etc. are not new to you, you will probably have lots of fun and learn all you need to know about PL/SQL from the 6th edition (covering all PL/SQL features through Oracle Database 12c) of Oracle PL/SQL Programming.

In addition, it's never to soon to pick up tips for writing high quality PL/SQL code. Sound good? Check out my Oracle PL/SQL Best Practices. A relatively short book that describes dozens of best practices that teaches best practices by following the challenges of a development team writing code for the make-believe company, MyFlimsyExcuse.com.

There are, of course, many other books on PL/SQL and more generally Oracle application development. Check out authors Tom Kyte and Michael McLaughlin, to name just two.

Websites

OK, so much for books. Of course, most people don't read books anymore. They just check their latest twitter feed for all the knowledge they (think) they need. So don't forget to follow me on twitter: @sfonplsql. :-)

And there are many, many sites that offer various kinds of content on PL/SQL. Time for another confession: I have not visited nor do I use many of them. But I offer below sites that I know offer very high quality content on PL/SQL.


PL/SQL Challenge

The PL/SQL Challenge is a website that promotes “active learning” — rather than passively reading a book or web page, you take quizzes on PL/SQL, SQL, logic, Database Design, and Oracle Application Express, thereby testing your knowledge. I wrote a daily quiz for this site for four years (over 1000 quizzes). Whew. If you have not checked out PL/SQL Challenge and you want to get serious about PL/SQL, you gotta visit!

PL/SQL Channel

The PL/SQL Channel offers a library of over 27 hours of video training I recorded on the Oracle PL/SQL language. Now owned by Oracle Corporation, all videos are available for viewing at no charge.

Oracle Technology Network for PL/SQL

The Oracle Technology Network (OTN) “provides services and resources that de‐ velopers need to build, test, and deploy applications” based on Oracle technology. Boasting membership in the millions, OTN is a great place to download Oracle software, documentation, and lots of sample code. The PL/SQL page offers some excellent resources, and we will be adding to it greatly in the coming months (now: May 2014).

AskTom

AskTom is the amazing and incredibly popular Q&A forum hosted by Tom Kyte, arguably the finest Oracle technologist in the world. I know one thing pretty well: PL/SQL. Tom knows PL/SQL better than I do, and then on top of that is an SQL expert, an optimizer expert...and the list goes on and on. AskTom is a bit of a "grab bag" - you never quite know what you will find in the sometimes lengthy discussion threads, but you are sure to find many answers to questions there. Tom also offers great lists of links, resources and so on.

oracle-developer.net

Maintained by Adrian Billington (Who wrote the section in Chapter 21 on pipelined table functions), this site is a resource for Oracle database developers which contains an outstanding collection of articles, tutorials, and utilities. Adrian offers in-depth treatments of new features in each release of Oracle Database, full of examples, performance analysis scripts, and more.

ORACLE-BASE

ORACLE-BASE is another fantastic resource for Oracle technologists built and maintained by a single Oracle expert: Tim Hall. Tim is an Oracle ACE Director, OakTable Network member, and was chosen as Oracle ACE of the Year 2006 by Oracle Magazine Editor’s Choice Awards. He has been invovled in DBA, design, and development work with Oracle databases since 1994. See http://oracle- base.com. 

Rubber Hitting Road

So you read books, you check out websites. You realize that you can do this. You can write PL/SQL. You can manipulate the powerful Oracle Database using SQL and the simple, procedural constructs of PL/SQL.

Now it is time to write code. Because you never know a language until you start wrestling with the realities of making something work.

So that's your next task: write code!

Of course, many of you will be writing code for your job, so we don't to say a whole lot more about this. 

If, on the other hand, you are looking to hone your skills to strengthen your ability to get a job, then I suggest the following:

Learn and use Oracle Application Express. With nothing more than SQL, PL/SQL and just enough HTML, CSS, etc. to make it look as "pretty" as you like, you can build powerful websites against the Oracle database. Apply for a workspace online, and get coding! Build an app for yourself or your family. It's free! 

Learn and use SQL Developer, an "integrated development environment" (editor) for SQL and PL/SQL. It's from Oracle and it's free. 

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