PostgreSQL 9 Admin Cookbook

by gorthx

The PostgreSQL community has been waiting for a “cookbook”, and I’m really excited that we finally have one. The PostgreSQL 9 Admin Cookbook contains many tips & techniques I’m going to put to immediate use. Like, pgloader and the ON_ERROR_STOP option to psql. This book also reminded me that there’s still a lot I don’t know about Postgres: for example, I’ve never worked with pg_controldata or the quote_ident() function. If you’re a Pg admin (or wannabe), you should give this book at least a run-through, even if you think you already know everything.

Most of the “recipes” in this cookbook will stand on their own; some require material from previous or other referenced sections to make sense. I am a sucker for conversational style, and while the book gets off to a rough start, it does even out after a bit. Big blocks of SQL are formatted consistently in a style that, while it’s not one I use myself, is easy to read. (This is very important.)

The authors give a great explanation of why they prefer their filesystem set up a specific way, and how to do it (of course, it probably helps that I agree with them on this point); and good advice about schema & relation names. Specific problem-solving tools I found useful are: the list of steps to troubleshoot failed connections; specific things to do if a backend is hung, or a query is taking too long; and generating test data and taking random samples of real-world data. They also give warnings where something you do might cause application downtime.

Sadly, this book suffers from inadequate editing. I often struggled against the grammar and organization to understand what the authors were trying to express. This frustrated me and slowed me down; a detriment in a technical manual. I also found that I couldn’t rely on the (seemingly auto-generated) index to find what I need, although the TOC and chapter headings helped out a lot there.

Bottom line: would I buy a hard copy? At the listed pricepoint (US$45 at this time), probably not. However, it’s a great first effort and I eagerly await the second edition.


Disclaimer: I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher, in pdf format.

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