What are my favourite Oracle books? and why?

This post was inspired by a comment on Martin Windlake’s blog.

I am an Oracle Developer who actually likes reading technical books, not only about Oracle technologies but also the wider Software Development world. (Does that put me in a minority?)

As a self taught programmer I have read many Oracle books since I started working with the Database. Whilst most of the books I have read have been at best, perfunctory,  the books that have made it on to this list, which are in no particular order, all have had a very positive impact on I how work with the Oracle Database and it’s related technologies.

Effective Oracle By Design by Tom Kyte

This book is the Code Complete for Oracle developers.

It was the book that first made me aware, when working with PL/SQL less is definitely more and to start thinking in sets. It highlighted the importance of instrumentation within your code, to be wary of universal best practises and also included the only road map I have yet to see for the Oracle Documentation.

PL/SQL From SQL a chapter by Adrian Billington from the book Expert PL/SQL Practises

I found this book to be very hit and miss but I believe Adrian’s single chapter “PL/SQL from SQL” is by itself worth the price of the book.

For many years every relevant Oracle tome I have read had the dire warning “beware of context switching” Oracle Developers know it is has to affect performance when you switch from SQL to PL/SQL within the same statement but exactly how bad it actually is was rarely, if ever disclosed. Adrian’s chapter is the first I know which shows the true cost of context switching. The first part of the chapter explains the term “Context Switching” and goes on to show’s the cost with easy to follow “Then and Now”  SQL.  The second part of the chapter then moves on to explaining how you can start reducing the cost of PL/SQL functions when called from SQL along with some non – PL/SQL alternatives.

Troubleshooting Oracle Performance by Christian Antognini

The book on Oracle performance.

It covers the whole spectrum of Oracle Performance tuning. From identifying and the prioritisation of problems from a business perspective to in depth discussion of the DBMS_XPLAN package.

Oracle PL/SQL Programming by Steven Feuerstein

The seminal book on working with the PL/SQL language. I hesitate to recommend it for learning the language simply because I struggled to learn PL/SQL using the 2nd Edition but once you are up and running there is no better resource for PL/SQL.

Expert Application Express by John Scott, et al

This is a book that should be within reach if you are working with Oracle Application Express. With thirteen chapters written by many of today’s Application Express luminaries it covers topics from the myriad of choices you have for selecting the webserver to how to develop tabular forms effectively and working the Apex 4 features such as Dynamic Actions. My favourite is Doug Gault’s chapter on Debugging.

Where are the Jonathan Lewis books? Whilst I never miss a Jonathan Lewis presentation at the UKOUG events, I have struggled with his books and so at the moment they do not appear on my list. However this list is very much live so one may appear as I periodically review this post.

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