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On 10/03/2012 04:04 PM, Girvin R. Herr wrote:

Jay Lozier wrote:
On 10/02/2012 07:19 PM, Girvin R. Herr wrote:


Most people I have talked to about databases find them less intuitive
than other typical office and general software.

Yes, I can agree to that.  Working with databases is not plug-n-play. 
It doesn't help when there are strangenesses in SQL that I don't
understand the reason why they are there.  For example, a while back I
ran into a Join problem with at least MySQL joins that if any joined
field of a record is null, the join will fail and that record, even
though the other fields are valid, will not be in the result set.  No
warnings or errors are given - it is just missing.  That causes
missing data, which IMHO is a bad thing.  As I said, I am not an SQL
expert and maybe there is a way around that action, but I could not
find a way by trial and error.  I had to go back into all of my
records and make sure I had a default value in all the fields that
were part of any join.
It is my understanding that an expanded version of the Base manual is
coming out soon.  That will be a help too.  With the exception of the
Report Builder, Base works quite well as far as I use it, but the
documentation is sparse and there is a lot of trial and error involved
to get what I want.  I am looking forward to the new version.

Of course, it is not within the scope of a Base manual to teach SQL,
but since Base relies heavily on SQL and some Base functions require
some SQL writing, some simple examples of how to use those Base
features would be appreciated by all users.  There are some examples
in the manuals already, but it could use some expansion.  Otherwise,
the Base user base will continue to be minimal.  Users need help to
understand the concepts and make Base usable for them and their
projects.  Otherwise, they will continue to use Calc.  I am sure the
frustration level can be high for newbies and many would give up on
Base, even though it would be the correct tool for them to use.  I
might have done so too, if it were not that I have a lot invested in
my databases and I am now "locked in" to maintaining them.
I think Base is following MS Access in trying to use wizards to hide the
SQL code from most users. This may be a mistake because most users still
do not understand what is happening behind the wizard.

Another good idea might be to add to the manual a "Further Reference"
list of recommended books to read for more information.  I would start
a MySQL list with the "MySQL Reference Manual", which comes with most
MySQL packages and is on the MySQL website and is available in paper
from O'Reilly Community Press.  That should be mandatory reading for
all new MySQL users.  Also, I have found the "Teach Yourself SQL in 24
Hours" book by Ryan Stephens and Ron Plew of value.  (I have no
affiliation with either of these authors or publishers.)

SQL is a beast to work with. There are two problems: one is its
sometimes flaky processing and two is the fact it is lacks features such
as file import as part of the standard. The first problem is usually
fixed by reordering the joins or using sub-queries. Loading data into a
file can be messy because different dialects do not do it exactly the
same way.

Another relational database problem is the proper design of the
database, its component tables, and the proper linking between tables.
This is often not a trivial or obvious issue and bad initial design will
haunt the maintainers.

There several very good books about SQL. I like Ben Forta's "MariaDB
Crash Course" for MySQL/MariaDb and general SQL.

Jay Lozier

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