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BOth5

A readable HND/degree level textbook


Relational databases What housekeeping tasks are necessary? transformation of the conceptual model
B Eaglestone etc. to the logical is clearly described. He
Stanley Thornes (1991) 256 pp 12.99 The first chapter gives an overview explains why normalization is import-
ISBN 0 7487 1176 7 of the database approach. A case study ant, which would surprise some students
based on a Sales Order processing sys- who would have you believe that it is just
It is very difficult to recommend a tem is introduced, and used through- something we make them do in order to
good introductory database book for out the book for examples. The next pass their assessments.
the HND/degree level. There are many chapter looks at the relational model Later chapters of the book cover
books by authors such as Date and and relational database management housekeeping tasks, such as transaction
Elmasri which are excellent if you systems (RDBMS). Relational algebra handling, recovery and security, and dis-
already have database experience, but is introduced in simple terms, with tributed databases. Finally the author
these often go into too much depth and plenty of examples. Many database looks at the future, discussing the weak-
are aimed at proficient users rather than books use mathematical symbols for re- nesses of the relational model and what
beginners. This book sets out to fill the lational algebra which is difficult for the next generation of database manage-
gap in the market. novices, or those without a mathematical ment systems may hold.
The book is written primarily for background. This book is refreshing in Eaglestone writes in a clear manner,
HND and second year degree students that it gives plenty of understandable with appropriate explanations well
and it adequately covers the topics that examples. supported by plenty of examples. The
are typically taught at this stage. Too The third chapter looks at how a author exhibits a wealth of experience of
many introductory books are lacking in relational database is used, where it teaching at this level, showing a good
some respect; often they do not cover all fits in the software development life- insight into the degree of understanding
the topics, have become out of date, or cycle, and reviews the range of tools by students new to the topic. On the
are still too advanced for beginners. for developing database applications, other hand, it is not really a book for
Given the level the book is aimed such as Fourth Generation Languages advanced database students who would
at, there were initial reservations when (4GLs). The INGRES 4GL is used as need more depth and explanation of the
looking at the list of topics--some of an example: SQL is discussed in great subject.
which are normally taught at final year depth, again with plenty of examples; Outside academia, users contemplat-
degree level: for example, fourth and and embedded SQL is also shown to ing buying and using a relational data-
fifth normal form, distributed databases give a flavour of how it is used. For base system might find the book useful;
and relational calculus. These are, how- comparison, a few examples of QUEL it could help the reader appraise and
ever, described in plain English, which and the equivalent relational calculus make effective use of relational data-
most students will understand: it is a expressions are given to show alterna- bases. It is written in a style clear enough
book they can still use once they move tive ways of expressing database oper- for non-database specialists to under-
on to more advanced material. ations. stand, although some knowledge of com-
The book aims to present the reader Relational database design is the next puting terms is assumed.
with an understanding of the ideas subject, a topic most beginners find It is a very readable book, it fulfils
underlying relational technology, the extremely difficult. The author presents its aim of being an HND/introductory
programs and techniques that are used both a top-down and bottom-up ap- degree level textbook, and at the price it
to apply the technology, which Eagle- proach for data analysis, leaving it to the offers good value for money.
stone covers quite adequately. He sets user to decide which method they prefer;
out to answer the questions: How is a both are described in a step-by-step M GARVEY
relational database used and designed? fashion, which is easy to follow. The University of Wolverhampton, UK

Oases of sound, sensible lore for Objectory users


Object-oriented software engineering: a was of nodding off and dropping it, hard reader. The authors do devote the last
use case driven approach covers and all, on to my toes. Which is chapter of the book to a comparison of
I Jaeobson, M Christerson, P Jonsson a shame really because it contains oases their remedy with other popular and
and G Overgaard of sound, sensible lore amongst much well-known brands, but sadly, this is
Addison-Wesley (1992) 29.95 524 pp arid pseudo-science. altogether too polite. A little more odious
ISBN 0 201 54435 0 The generality of the title is a blind. comparison would have made for better
The book is actually a sales pitch for the reading and would have told me more.
It is a useful rule of thumb always to be ideas behind Objectory, a system that If you run a medicine show then run it
chary of any book whose title contains the blurb claims is 'the first commercially properly.
either the words 'object-oriented' or the available comprehensive object-oriented But what of the content? Well, there
words 'software engineering', so it was process for developing large-scale indus- is a lot of it. All logically structured and
with some trepidation that I approached trial systems'. I suspect others would chal- coherently arranged, covering everything
this volume. The fact that I was unable lenge this claim vociferously, and it made from the basics of object-orientation,
to parse the phrase 'a use case driven me instantly aware that what we have through analysis, testing to project man-
approach' in any way that had mean- here is snake oil. This particular snake agement. All this, we must remember,
ing only made matters worse. Luckily oil may be a genuine panacea and live up strongly scented with Objectory. Unfor-
my caution was unnecessary. The only to all its claims, but it is still snake oil tunately I disagreed with the ideas on the
danger I was in from this worthy tome with all that that entails for the unwary very first page, baulked at the definition

Vol 34 No 12 December 1992 825


Books
of 'object' proposed by the authors, and What, then, is the audience for this As you will have gathered, I did not
became utterly bemused by the many book? If you are a user of Objectory, like this book. Not because it is a bad
box-and-arrow diagrams. Some careful this book is a bible. If you are what the book, not even because it is dull, but
cutting and reshaping of the text would preface calls 'an experienced software because it presents an approach to the
make it much more attractive and engineer' (I confess that I have never met development of software which I think
genuinely informative. I particularly such a beast) but are from another is in many respects wrong. I am not so
liked the section on testing, and the cases school then this book will show you a certain that we know, or indeed will ever
studied have considerable potential, but different viewpoint but will not tell you know, enough about the design and
a lot would have to go before I felt much that is new. Novices could learn construction of software that we can
happy with the overall 'Objectory- from this book, except that they would adopt such methodological approaches
oriented' approach. And those diagrams! get a blinkered, or at least, a narrow view as advocated in this book. Other, longer-
The person who invented graphics of the world. If you are a manager established fields of endeavour have tried
packages that authors could use has then this is a 'must read'. It will fulfil all and abandoned design methodologies
much to answer for. So has the person your fantasies of a well-controlled world as unworkable. The raw material used
who invented electronic clip art as where dependable software is delivered in the construction of this book is good,
there are some fairly dire examples of on time and on spec by organized, but the glue that holds it together is
that included as well. The only positive creative, well-motivated programmers weak.
thing that can be said about the illus- and more. While you are ploughing L F MARSHALL
trations is that the authors do follow through the text your employees can Department of Computing Science,
their precepts and reuse some of them get on with some real work without you University of Newcastle upon Tyne,
several times. breathing down their necks. UK

A book for the project manager's library


Managing computer projects skills profile, etc.). One of the significant The need for a satisfactory Software
R Gibson subjects throughout the book is the im- Quality Assurance process is not looked
Prentice Hall International (UK) portance of the appointment of a man- at as an independent organization. On
(1992) 161 pp 22.95 ager at the early stages of the project. the contrary, it is included in the role of
ISBN 0 13 159591 1 As the author states in the preface, this the software manager, justifying the
book is directed to skilled staff, but it necessity for a rigorous quality control
Nowadays projects tend to be more and also addresses two types of reader: On with emphasis in software configuration
more complex and obviously the risk one side, the senior staff that belongs to control.
for a disaster (overtime, overbudget, or an organization and that is responsible The author's style is concise. The book
project cancellation) becomes greater. for software development (contractor). is well structured and rich in introduc-
Usually it is too difficult to identify the It includes the management upper level, tions, enumerations of learned lessons,
reason(s) or culpable(s) for this disaster, showing the consequences for erroneous conclusions and outlines. There is a
therefore responsibilities decrease. decisions and outlining some solutions. selected collection of brief case studies
How can an organization finish a It is here where the author proves his own that reveals some common errors made
project on time and on budget? The best background on software management. in software management. Although
answer to this question is: You must There are no quantitative results (with some of them are rather extreme situ-
have an appropriate management, in the exception of the discussion about ations, they are useful for the under-
connection with a proper manager. So, error removal in Chapter 5), because standing of the main chapters of the
the main topic covered by this book is these would be the topic for another book book. Learning from past mistakes is
the role of the project manager within on planning or metrics, and that is not one of the techniques used by the writer
the organization of development and his the purpose. On the other side, the book in the book.
relation with the purchaser. is also designed for the purchaser, due to Taking into consideration the devel-
After a short and precise introduction, its qualitative aspect. The development opment experience that the author
the largest part of the book (Chapters team must be connected to the pur- reflects on his pages, this work is not
2-5) covers the software life-cycle (the chaser's staff (especially the project man- exactly expensive. This, combined with
project launching, analysis, design, plan- ager). So another relevant matter of the the helpful thoughts that can be taken
ning, implementing and the acceptance), book is the co-operation between the from it, makes this book a significant
showing the manager's main goal. The development team and the purchaser, in contribution to our library.
last chapter deals with the manager him- order to obtain the desired project with J TUYA
self (nature of work, selection methods, an extraordinary quality. University of Oviedo, Spain

Clear and comprehensivepresentation of DLP


DLP: a language for distributed logic three modern programming paradigms The book deals with the following
programming design, semantics and - - t h e paradigms of logic programming, main topics: The design of the language
implementation object-oriented programming and dis- DLP (Distributed Logic Programming)
A Eiiens tributed information processing. In is described in the first part. It is devel-
John Wiley (1992) 325 pp 39.95 recent years we have seen intensive oped on the base of appropriate exten-
ISBN 0 471 93117 9 research efforts for combinations of sions of Prolog, including such notions
these paradigms, usually in pairs. These as objects, inheritance, dynamic creation
This book presents a particular ap- efforts are all interesting and practically of objects, message passing, and con-
proach to the problem of combining useful. currency. An interesting question in the

826 Information and Software Technology