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0.2. Purpose

At first glance, the purpose of this book seems obvious: MySQL and mSQL are two of the most popular applications offering public source code. They offer the practical advantages of Open Source software even through their licenses are a bit too restrictive for the Open Source mark. For anyone who has spent a significant amount of time learning MySQL or mSQL, the answer is a little more complex.

One of the biggest complaints about Open Source projects is almost always the lack of comprehensive and comprehensible documentation. In the case of MySQL and mSQL, however, lack of online documentation is rarely a problem.

MySQL has a wonderfully complete and free online reference manual available from the web site at http://www.mysql.com. This manual covers the full MySQL SQL syntax, installation, and its C API, as well as database administration and performance tuning. Similarly, mSQL has a good, if less comprehensive, online manual at http://www.hughes.com.au.

To make matters even more complex, MySQL and mSQL are both moving targets because of rapid development. In the case of MySQL, "moving target" is a euphemism. Thanks mainly to the efforts of Michael "Monty" Widenius, MySQL is a target moving about as fast as a freight train. So be prepared, you may find some of the information in this book either ahead of older versions or behind newer versions.

But wait! Don't put this book back on the shelf just yet. We knew about all of these issues before we tackled the task of writing this book. One major reason made a book on this topic not only justified, but essential. The worlds of MySQL and mSQL are not limited to a couple of database engines. Because of the degree to which they have been embraced by the Open Source community, MySQL and mSQL also encompass a host of tools for managing and programming applications for these databases. The purpose of this book is therefore to provide a single, definitive guide to these database engines and the world of APIs and tools used to build end-to-end database solutions. Anyways, a book is much easier to read in the bathroom or on a plane than online documentation.

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