Perl for Oracle DBAs, by Andy Duncan, Jared Still; ISBN 0-596-00210-6

Reviewed by: Songmuh Jong, send e-mail
Published by: O'Reilly & Associates, go to the web site
Requires: Oracle, Perl and Internet connection for downloading packages
MSRP: US$44.95

Perl is a popular programming language. Oracle is a popular database server. IT developers who know about both tools can do wonders with data. This book targets Database Administrators (DBAs), but it can be used by database programmers as well. Although the book does talk about UNIX setups, it is also geared toward Perl running on Windows machines.

Part One is an overview about using Perl. The installation (chapter 2) details downloadable modules and step-by-step commands to install Perl. It also provides several sections on Cygwin and compiling Perl. A simple Perl DBI to display "Hello World" from the Oracle database is listed.

Part Two is about extending Perl. The GUI (chapter 3) text lists various Perl packages, their source pages and installations. The web extensions (chapters 4 to 6) lists Apache server and various packages that can work with it. Chapter 7 explains OCI - Oracle's call interface API. It also discusses why you should use Perl rather than C. Chapter 8 discusses how to call Perl from PL/SQL - the Oracle's extension of ANSI SQL.

The last part is about the DBA Toolkit which the book's authors developed. This part may be the main reason to buy this book. The authors provide many examples for the toolkit packages. The toolkit is downloadable from the book's web site. Chapter 9 is an introduction to the toolkit and chapter 10 is about DBA routines that can be done in Perl. Chapter 11 is about database monitoring using Perl. Chapter 12 is about tracking database changes, building a repository and last but not least, chapter 13 is about checking scheduled jobs with Perl.

The appendices also contain several useful topics, including a general introduction to Perl, DBI packages in detail, regular expressions, and data transformation - especially using the XML.

The few source codes listed before Part 3 are not downloadable. Readers have to type them in. Some codes are missing. For example, the Hello Perl/Tk does not have the MainLoop() function call. The WhatIsTheTime example doesn't display the time on the label unless it is modified. Part of the reason is that the authors focus on their own toolkit packages as described in Part 3.

Aside from those minor shortcomings, this book is valuable for Oracle professionals. It will save readers lots of time searching the Internet for Perl-related information. The book is a comprehensive list of available packages. An Oracle developer needs to start his own toolkit by trying out various packages listed in the book and integrating the packages into their own collection. That's the fun part of the process.

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