Learning Oracle and SQL
December 5, 2011 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Hey all. I need to learn the basic principles of SQL and Oracle databases. I'm looking for web resources and books. Got any favorites? What's out there? Thanks in advance.
posted by Stagger Lee to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Does it have to be Oracle? You could download a copy of MySQL for just about any platform that's out there and bang away at the basics for free. The tutorial covers databases, tables, creates/selects/queries, etc.
posted by jquinby at 8:53 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Unfortunately it has to be Oracle. It's for a project I've been sucked into, and that much is nailed down.

I don't need to be a database ninja yet, but I want to understand how the technical aspects actually work.

I am interested in learning more about databases in general though so I'll check out MySQL in my copious free time.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:56 AM on December 5, 2011

Sorry to be the second person questioning your premises, but are you actually going to be administering the DBMS? If not, I don't think you actually need to use Oracle for your learning. Oracle can be a huge pain to get up and running (at least in my experience), and 95% of what you need to learn is common across major relational database systems.

SQL Server Express is another good free alternative with lots of tutorials available.
posted by ripley_ at 9:09 AM on December 5, 2011

If you want to know SQL and accessing data and all that then Oracle and MySQL are about 95% the same. By the way, Oracle owns MySQL.

If you are actually needing to know how to run and administer a database then there is a huge difference. In that case, just download Oracle. It is also free if you want to use it for learning purposes.
posted by vacapinta at 9:14 AM on December 5, 2011

Best answer: To start out with you might want to just practice some queries on an existing database. This Gentle Introduction to SQL lets you do just that. Philip Greenspun's "SQL for Web Nerds" is very old - but it concentrates on Oracle. I quite like this visual explanation of SQL joins from Coding Horror.

Once you get beyond the basics you are going to be best off with the (ample) material provided by Oracle. If you already have a development database that somebody will let you play about with then great - otherwise you could consider going down the route of downloading your own copy of Oracle and installing it on a virtual machine - this is quite an undertaking in its own right but it could be useful if you want to learn those aspects of the system.
posted by rongorongo at 9:15 AM on December 5, 2011 [2 favorites]

The best advice I can give is to learn the principles of database design and normalization before you even think about writing any queries.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 9:19 AM on December 5, 2011

Response by poster: Questioning my premise is fine, I understand that when I'm new to a field I may not even be asking the right questions yet.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:23 AM on December 5, 2011

Oracle do a version of their software called XE which is a free download. To support this you should also download their SQL developer software too.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 9:36 AM on December 5, 2011

Learn SQL The Hard Way
posted by dgeiser13 at 9:47 AM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Stagger, Ripley is right - your needs depend heavily on whether you'll be designing, building and maintaining the database in question, or simply using it to read & write to. If it's the former, people get CS degrees in that and self-teaching will take considerable time & effort (but it's doable). If you just need to write queries on an existing database, though, the curve is much gentler.

You can indeed start out with any SQL database product, since the basic query syntax conforms [more or less] to standards across vendors. Then switch over to Oracle when you begin to employ things like string or date functions, which will vary considerably from one vendor to another.
posted by richyoung at 4:21 PM on December 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: w3schools.com has some good general SQL tutorials. It may not get you the Oracle specific bits, but it is a good resource for getting started with SQL.
posted by nalyd at 9:14 PM on December 5, 2011

Oracle's database documentation is available online for browsing and/or download. Versions from 9i to 10gR2 are ready for perusal.

The docs can be daunting but find your version and and read the 2 Day Developer's Guide. For a general overview of the Oracle environment read 2 Day DBA.
posted by llin at 12:28 PM on December 6, 2011

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