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The second edition of Cary Millsap‘s MASTERING ORACLE TRACE DATA (MOTD) is finally available. You can order it through I had the pleasure not only to review MOTD while Cary was working on it, but also to write a foreword that summarizes what I think about the book. So, if you are asking yourself whether you should buy MOTD, here is my opinion/foreword…

In late 1999, through an Oracle Support note, I had my first encounter with extended SQL trace. From the beginning, it was clear that the information it provided was essential for understanding what an application is doing when it is connected to Oracle Database. At the same time, I was very disappointed that no tool was available for analyzing extended SQL trace files for the purpose of leveraging their content. But even worse, at that moment the widespread tuning methods were more similar to black art than computer science. As Cary would say… it was an age of darkness.

In 2003, when O’Reilly published Optimizing Oracle Performance (by Cary Millsap with Jeff Holt), the story changed. In fact, that book introduced a simple (but not simplistic) method, based on extended SQL trace, for optimizing the performance of Oracle Database applications: Method R. The four-step method was so concise that it could be summarized in eleven lines of text (page 20 of Optimizing Oracle Performance). Despite that, Method R was (and is) extremely powerful. It has been a game changer.

The remarkable achievement of the book you are reading is not only to give you a distilled and enhancement version of all the key concepts introduced by Optimizing Oracle Performance, but also to cover additional material about fundamental topics like instrumentation. A part that has been enormously enhanced is the one that covers the case studies. In fact, about half of the book is devoted to it. Case studies are very important because they make much easier for you to grasp, based on real examples, how to apply what you learned in the theoretical part of the book.
In addition, for the users of the Method R Profiler and Method R Tools, the second part is very useful to realize how to fully take advantage of those powerful utilities.

Without any doubts, this book is the definitive guide to mastering Oracle trace data.