I recently was asked, then asked again, then asked yet again to review an object-oriented application development computer book. I was asked to review the book by a company whose product is covered in the book rather than by the publishing company or the author. I don't think they realized how much of a critic I am...
While the book, Object-Oriented Application Development Using the Caché Postrelational Database, is not a book I would normally buy, I must confess that I was surprised about how much it caught my interest in a positive manner.
In this review I'm going to address a couple of different items. These are items I look at when reviewing books. These are:
- The technical Content
- The packaging / pricing
- The "Gut" Feel
I'll cover each of these in the following sections and then conclude with my overall opinion.
The Technical Content
I was not sure what this book was focused on when I first was told about it. The title was a mouth full -- Object-Oriented Application Development Using the Caché Postrelational Database. Was it an Object-Oriented Application Development book as the title implied or was it a Caché book?
Because OO was first in the title, I assumed the focus was on OO. Wrong, err, at least somewhat wrong. This book could have easily been called "Developing with Caché" because that is where the focus is. This begs the question, what is Caché? Caché is a postrelational database, which loosely translated means an "object" database. Because most people won't know what Caché is, it is a good thing the title tells us. Because it is an "object" database, it makes since that you would do object-oriented development if you use it.
Even with the title being long and verbose, this book lives up to the promise. It teaches you to develop applications with Caché that are object-oriented. It even teaches you the concepts involved in object-oriented application development. If you chose not to use Caché, you will still find the beginning of this book valuable just based on the concepts it covers.
If you want to use Caché, then this book is very valuable. In addition to teaching the concepts of OO, it also touches on a number of different aspects of Caché development. Some of the things you will learn in this book include:
- how to set up your database
- how to define your own classes
- manipulating your data with the Caché ObjectScript
- using SQL to access your information
- Using Visual Caché to build applications
- creating Visual Basic applications that use Caché
- using Caché with java both natively and with JDBC
- how to manage devices from Caché
As you can see, this list goes way beyond object-oriented programming and deep into Caché. This depth would be a problem unless you have a copy of Caché. Not to fear! A copy of Caché is included on the CD with the book so you can try all this without the need of large downloads or expending more money.
Without boring you with gruesome details, suffice it to say that in the books 362 pages, the authors cover a lot of ground effectively and include a number of tables and figures that you can later reference when you are doing your hard core development. The book also remains relatively unassuming in the knowledge level of the reader. It is very effective at walking through steps using figures and textual descriptions. This includes waling you through the creation of a basic object at the very beginning of the book.
|Rankings on books sites are something that a lot of people don't notice. A book on Amazon ranked under 10,000 is selling. A book under 50,000 is doing okay. A book at 250,000 is not moving much -- and the rankings go even higher than that! Of course, these are my, personal, opinions. Plus rankings can fluctuate hourly.|
What most people notice before the content of a book is the packaging. This book is hard-covered, includes a CD, and is priced at $79.95. Yes, that is $79.95. Unlike most computer books, the price is not actually on this book. I went out to Amazon.com (although I could have just as easily gone to any other book store...) to find the price. What was as shocking -- only in a positive way -- was the fact that the book was ranked well below 10,000 (6,257 actually) on Amazon.
I would normally say that the price of $79.95 is too high for this book; however, there are a few things to consider. First, per the Amazon ranking, people are buying it. Additionally, the book actually has a decent CD. The CD contains a copy of Caché. Granted you can download it from their Web site; however, you don't have to--it is on the CD! Just as important, the CD contains a copy of the Working Model edition of Visual Basic 6.0. This is a nice added value as well. Also included are Personal Web Server, Internet Explorer and a multimedia presentation. Okay, I'll still say the price on this book is a little high.
There are other parts of the book that I consider as part of the packaging. The cover itself is not overbearing. It includes important information on what is in the book and on the CD. Granted the colors are hideous (in my opinion), but you "can't judge a book by its cover" after all. The layout of the pages is crisp and clean. The table of contents is easy to follow. And, there is an index in the book.
|Most good indexes in a computer book are 4 to 6 percent of the book's total page count. This book's index was only about 2% of page count.|
The index on the book could have been better. For highly technical books, the index is one of the top three features used in determining if a book is worth buying (the other two are the book's topic and the table of content). The index on this book could have been more comprehensive. On page 85 of the book there is a list of statements that are used to define Triggers in Caché. These are contained within the section, "4.4.9 Definition of Triggers." This page contains the word "trigger" or "triggers" at least ten times, yet it is not in the index. This page is also the page you are most likely to want to reference after reading the book if you need to follow up on triggers. This is just one example of where the index misses. When a new edition or a reprint of this book is done, I strongly recommend a much more comprehensive index.
The "Gut" Feel
In my "gut" I feel this book is over priced and aimed at a very nitch market -- people interested in Caché. In looking at the book in more detail, there is a value to non-Caché people; however, there are a number of other books out there that will fill any needs that this book would fill and the alternatives do an equally good job. In fact the bibliography on pages 353 and 354 of this book list a number of such books.
On the other side, I also "feel" that if you are interested in object-oriented databases, this book will give you a good review of at least one of them - Caché. By including tools such as Caché, VB and PWS, you have what you need to check out all aspects of Caché even on a machine running Windows 9x.
If you are teaching courses on object-oriented application development, then this book is almost a "no brainer". The CD and book provide the foundation that can be easily taught around.
I must say that I was positively surprised at this book. Even if you are not going to use Caché, you should consider this book. The descriptions of OO concepts at the beginning of the book were very clear and easy to follow. These concepts could easily be applied to other technologies. If you are planning on doing any work with object databases, then at a minimum it is worth buying this book to better understand Caché. If you are planning to use Caché, then you should strongly consider this book even with the poor index.
I would -- and will -- give this book four stars out of five. I am taking one star away because of the poor index and because it is pricey.
About the book:
Object-Oriented Application Development Using the Cachi Post-Relational Database
by Wolfgang Kirsten, Michael Ihringer, Bernhard Rohrig, and Peter Schulte
About the Reviewer
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