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Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Book Review: Microsoft Tabular Modeling Cookbook

Posted by denglishbi on February 21, 2014

There is a new Analysis Services (SSAS) Tabular book that is available to own and add to your library.  The book is written by Paul te Braak, who is a lead business intelligence consultant in Australia and is one of the developers on the DAX Studio project, and he has put together an outstanding cookbook.  When the book was released I was surprised and excited.  I was surprised because I did not know that Paul was working on this (he is the sole author, big kudos to Paul), and excited because I knew it was going to be a good one.  I had this one on my radar list of books to add to my collection; I am definitely a big fan of the Packt Publishing Cookbook series style of books. Microsoft Tabular Modeling CookbookWhat I like about the books is that they introduce a topic or situation and then go over the solution in a very simple and easy to understand format – Getting Ready, How to do it, How it Works, There’s more.  Paul adds a lot of great insights in this book in explaining how the solutions work as well as including a bunch of ‘Tips’ along the way as well.

Here is when I first became aware that the book was released last month and posted the O’Reilly media deal:

image

So when I was asked by the publisher this past month to provide a review of the book I was more than happy to say ‘yes’.

Paul does a great job on slowly working you into the Tabular modeling concepts and the only tool you need to get going is Excel and the Power Pivot add-in.  Paul’s examples use Excel workbooks and flat files for the most part, so that makes it really easy to get started and get your learn on.

What is amazing is that this book is just over 300 pages and it is loaded with great content that covers items such as how to use Power Pivot, hierarchies, drilldown, parent-child hierarchies (including how to hidememberif in DAX), smart measures, smart keys, programmatic access in Excel – cube functions and VBA, querying with DAX, Power View, and more!  Simply amazing, Paul does a fabulous job and this is a great intro book that progresses into advanced topics and has great examples, tips, and insights that are a big time value add.

Here is a outline of the chapters:

Chapter 1: Getting Started with Excel
Chapter 2: Importing Data
Chapter 3: Advanced Browsing Features
Chapter 4: Time Calculations and Date Functions
Chapter 5: Applied Modeling
Chapter 6: Programmatic Access via Excel
Chapter 7: Enterprise Design and Features
Chapter 8: Enterprise Management
Chapter 9: Querying the Tabular Model with DAX
Chapter 10: Visualizing Data with Power View

Book link – Microsoft Tabular Modeling Cookbook.

I would definitely rate this as a must have for anyone doing tabular SSAS development and give it 5 out of 5 stars – image

Awesome job Paul and thanks for writing the book and sharing!

Posted in Analysis Services | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Book Review: MDX with SSAS 2012 Cookbook

Posted by denglishbi on November 25, 2013

A couple of years back I reviewed a new book on the market related to MDX and Analysis Services, Book Review: MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook, and the book has now been updated to 2012.  The book was written by Microsoft SQL Server MVP Tomislav Piasevoli and Sherry Li. MDX with SSAS 2012 CookbookThe cookbook style of book is an outstanding reference book.  The book is full of solutions that tell you “how to do it”, “how it works”, and wait, “there’s more” (great value add and insights).

The book has been updated for the 2012 edition of SSAS and the examples have also been updated against the 2012 version of Adventure Works database.  The other difference from the 2008 R2 release of the book is that some of content has been broken up into a a couple of new chapters.

  • Chapter 1: Elementary MDX Techniques
  • Chapter 2: Working with Sets
  • Chapter 3: Working with Time
  • Chapter 4: Concise Reporting
  • Chapter 5: Navigation
  • Chapter 6: Business Analytics
  • Chapter 7: When MDX is Not Enough
  • Chapter 8: Advanced MDX Topics
  • Chapter 9: On the Edge

Book link – MDX with SSAS 2012 Cookbook. Amazon reviews link – Amazon Customer Reviews.

I would definitely rate this a must have for anyone doing multidimensional SSAS development and give it 5 out of 5 stars – image.

Posted in Analysis Services | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: DAX FORMULAS for PowerPivot: The Excel Pro’s Guide to Mastering DAX

Posted by denglishbi on November 15, 2012

This week I got the opportunity to read a new book out on the market by Rob Collie (PowerPivotPro) – “DAX FORMULAS for PowerPivot: The Excel Pro’s Guide to Mastering DAX”.  I have to admit that once I received the book I read through it in a couple of days, couldn’t put it down and wanted to finish it.  I really enjoyed the style of the book, just like Rob’s blog posts, and there was just a really good natural transition of the content that it kept me hooked.  While reading the book I really felt that I was in a classroom and Rob was presenting the material, something about the writing style, really enjoyed it (hat tip to Rob).

The book is loaded with great tips and advice from Rob, reference links to his blog posts and other content, and real world examples.  The solutions and examples provided in the book can be used right away if you are already using PowerPivot or Tabular SSAS.  There is material in here not just for the Excel pros, but also for IT/BI pros as well.

The second night I was reading the book my son took a peek at what I was doing on my Kindle Fire HD (great reading experience by the way – color, access to the embedded pictures to enlarge, ability to access the links directly, easily take notes and add bookmarks).  My son is in first grade and really starting to get comfortable reading.  He started to read the page I was on:)  It was really cute.  The book was not only good for me, but helped my son learn new words and work on his reading (not sure if this book can qualify for an AR test though)!

When it comes to the editing of the book I did come across a some minor typos, nothing too major, and one figure was missing (Figure 154).  There are references to the Measure Grid (actually Calculation Area in PowerPivot, Measure Grid in Tabular SSAS – this is one thing that I wish Microsoft kept the same or consistent for referencing).  I got a laugh when Rob states that implicit measures are ‘dead to me’ and that he never, ever, EVER creates implicit measures.

The book is really invaluable and the price is a steal (particularly if you buy it on Mr. Excel’s store here)  The length was exactly what I like, short and to the point, I don’t want to read a 800 page door stopper, anything in the 300 or less page range is perfect (that is why I liked the Rational Guide books by Rational Press) and supplemented with links for additional references and more content if desired.  The material and insights that Rob covers is fantastic.  The disconnected table concepts as well as performance tips are PRICELESS.  I would highly recommend this book and without a doubt give it a five star rating.

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Posted in PowerPivot | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook

Posted by denglishbi on September 26, 2011

A couple of weeks back I mentioned a new book on the market related to MDX and Analysis Services and that I had received a copy to review.  The book is MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook written by Microsoft SQL Server MVP Tomislav Piasevoli.Book - MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook

This is by no means an introduction (101) book to MDX, but it is an MDX reference book that anyone using Analysis Services should have on their desk (or device – available in eBook version as well).  I have not read a cookbook technical style of book before and I simply couldn’t put it down.  I really enjoyed the style of here is a situation, here’s how you do it, and now let’s see how this actually works.  But the author doesn’t just stop there, nope, but what there’s more information about the recipe and then provides additional reference links to checkout or other spots in the book to look at as well.  After I got done reading one recipe I continued on to the next one because I was interested in reading the solution and finding out more and seeing how it compared to how I would approach the situation.

I found the book very easy to read and the information is extremely valuable for anyone working with Analysis Services and trying to solve solutions using MDX. This is a must have book for any SSAS professional, if you don’t believe me, check it out for yourself and you will definitely agree, just like others already have like Derek Goodridge (@WorkerThread) and Jason Thomas (@de_unparagoned).

Book link – MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook.

I would definitely rate this a must have and give it 5 out of 5 stars – image.

Posted in Analysis Services | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

New Book: MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook

Posted by denglishbi on August 30, 2011

Just a couple of weeks ago I tweeted about a new book that came out in regards to MDX and Analysis Services:Book - MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook

tweet

Book –> MDX with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Analysis Services Cookbook

Well just this week I received my very own eBook version for review from the publisher and I have already started diving into it to check it out.  This is a cookbook style of book that goes over different scenarios and/or issues and then provides the solution, explains the solution, and then provides even more information in regards to the item.  Very slick and I love the format.  Not only is Microsoft SQL Server MVP Tomislav Piasevoli a pro when it comes to this content, but he also got an all star MVP lineup to review and edit the book including Greg Galloway, Darren Gosbell, Deepak Puri, Marco Russo, and Chris Webb.

I plan on providing a full review on the book in a couple of weeks, but just wanted to put another shout out in regards to the book in case you haven’t heard about it yet and are looking for a technical reference cookbook in regards to MDX.  Stay tuned for my complete review.

Posted in Analysis Services, SQL Server, Training | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review: Microsoft SharePoint 2010 PerformancePoint Services Unleashed

Posted by denglishbi on January 10, 2011

I finally wrapped up my read of the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 PerformancePoint Services Unleashed book by SAMS publishing.  I was not provided the book to review, so just want to state that up front.  I thought that the authors did a great job going over the product providing an overview, installation information, component breakdown, dashboard development, PerformancePoint 2007 differences and migration, and custom development.  I thought the authors did a very good job explaining the product and they even had a case study in regards to Apples and Oranges which is a broadcast company wanting to evaluate The Green Orange show.  I definitely like the idea of bringing in the case study, just not sure if that theme was pushed throughout the rest of the book showing how the product helps them to be able to monitor and analyze information about the show.

I liked that the book included Notes, Tips, Summary, and Best Practices in each chapter.  Getting some additional insight and tips from the authors was good to help explain and provide some additional guidance and reasoning.  I liked chapters 11 and 12 where the authors showed how you can interact with the API, perform custom development with the SDK, and manage the product leveraging PowerShell scripts.

If you are new to the PerformancePoint product and will be working with the SharePoint 2010 product I would definitely recommend picking up this book as a reference point.  I think it does a good job providing examples and will prepare you for building dashboards with the product.  I think if the case study would have been fully incorporated along with some more dashboarding explanation and advanced PerformancePoint topics that would have really completed the book.  The end chapters that I mentioned above did help though.  I think the book could have been just a tad bit longer.

All-in-all I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 (five being the highest) rating – image and the price that you can get it for is definitely reasonable, plus I believe this is the only PerformancePoint 2010 book that is currently available.  There are a couple of items available for download that you can take a look at (an Excel file and SSAS backup) once you register the book on the Informit site.

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 PerformancePoint Services Unleashed (9780672330940): Tim Kashani, Ola Ekdahl, Kevin Beto, Rachel Vigier: Books

ISBN: 0672330946
ISBN-13: 9780672330940

 

And just an FYI, you can install and use Per User Identity authentication for security on a data source in a single server environment (farm setup).  This does work, you do not need to do a standalone SharePoint install.

Posted in PerformancePoint | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

PowerPivot Book Reviews

Posted by denglishbi on August 2, 2010

This past month I purchased both of the PowerPivot books that were available.  The first one I got was the Professional Microsoft PowerPivot for Excel and SharePoint (wow, that was a mouthful).  I would have to say that this book is geared more toward the IT Professional where it does a great job covering the installation setup on the server side, managing and troubleshooting techniques, and going over some of the development.  While I was going through the exercises in the book I did do a few blog postings in regards to some of my experiences with the PowerPivot product

The other part that I really like about this product was the additional insights that were provided by the product team members talking about how the product came to life and the different paths that were explored initially (originally MS Access was looked at…phew).  The exercises that were provided were helpful and the troubleshooting section was very useful, especially coming from the IT side of the world.  All-in-all I would highly recommend this book to the IT Pro and would give this book 5 out of 5 stars – image.  Definitely worth the $$$.

Next on the list came the book from Mr. Excel (Bill Jelen).  I have to admit that I had not heard of him until the great Alpha Geek Challenge came about that Microsoft launched promoting the PowerPivot product.  I tried to get involved in Round 2, but ended up in Round 3 going head-to-head with Mr. Excel.

This book is definitely geared towards the Excel user and that was expected.  I have not read any of Mr. Excel’s books, so I wasn’t used to his style of writing.  There are some comments made in the book about ‘blowing a gasket’, ‘insane things that come out of Redmond’, ‘going hack off the people in Europe’ (not sure what that even means), etc. that I did not find appropriate in a formal published book.  These comments would have been better suited for a blog posting possibly, but not for a book that I might want to recommend or keep on my bookshelf.  The book does a good job explaining the differences between Excel and PowerPivot, going over all of the functions available to you, providing some examples to go through, and providing advice for publishing workbooks (formatting and look-and-feel).  At the very end it talks briefly about the SharePoint side of the world, but at a very high level.  I did get a good laugh when it stated ‘Build a PowerPoint pivot table’ (easy mistake and the names of products now are really easy to mix up).  If you are an Excel user and are looking to make the switch to PowerPivot then this would be a good reference book.  The price is right and I would have to give this book 3 out of 5 stars – image

I know that there are a few more PowerPivot books coming out and I am definitely looking forward to taking a look at them once they are available

Posted in PowerPivot | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Book Review – The Rational Guide To Planning with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007

Posted by denglishbi on March 4, 2008

Just finished another book by Nick Barclay and Adrian Downes titled The Rational Guide To Planning with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.  This book was a quick read and very informative.  This covers the third portion of the PerformancePoint Server product, Planning.  This was another excellent read and a great addition to the other book they wrote, The Rational Guide To Planning with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.  It is concise and has really good tech tips, notes, and caution items.  This book basically included a HOL to walk you through a proof-of-concept using the AdventureWorksDW data.  It tells you how to install the software, setup the planning application and models, populate the staging and application databases with the included scripts and examples, add business rules, create form templates (and make them dynamic based on system parameters), and more.  The bonus chapters wrap-up the exercise pushing the results to the monitoring and analysis portion of PerformancePoint Server to complete the cycle and tie everything together. 

After reading their book I really feel comfortable with what the planning portion provides and have a complete understanding of how to setup the product and populate the databases.  The examples for scripts that Nick and Adrian provide were very helpful (and it is always interesting to see how other people write their T-SQL and MDX statements).  They explain the tables and stored procedures that are setup in the databases that you can utilize to get information out and how everything relates.  I could go on-and-on about the book because it was jam packed with information (and it was only 250 pages long — plus the bonus chapters that you can download and read).

The content in the book is right on and the examples are very thorough and cover nearly every portion of the application to some extent (in some areas they simply refer you to the documentation since they cannot cover everything in as much detail as they would like).  Obviously this book could have been at least three times the size to cover everything in detail, but Nick and Adrian include all of the necessary information needed to use the software.  I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.  I would definitely recommend adding this book to your collection.  Check out my review on their other book for PerformancePoint Server here.

The Rational Guide To Planning with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 (Rational Guides)
by Adrian Downes, Nick Barclay

Read more about this book…

Posted in PerformancePoint | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review – The Rational Guide To Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007

Posted by denglishbi on February 25, 2008

Just got done wrapping up another book today and finished the book by Nick Barclay and Adrian Downes titled The Rational Guide To Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.  This book was also a quick read once I dived back into it; I took a short break over the holidays and read a few fiction books.  This covers two of the three portions of the PerformancePoint Server product (Monitoring and Analyzing).  This is an excellent read and I loved the format.  The Rational Guides are typically under 300 pages and this one was 250, so it does not drag out like some books.  It is concise and has really good tech tips, notes, and caution items.  There is also bonus material to download that includes a list of additional resources, additional chapters, and the examples so you can follow along with the book.

Nick and Adrian pointed out a few bugs, if you want to call them that, that are included in the RTM of the product.  One in regards to adding more than one target metric for a KPI and the other in regards to getting strategy maps to accept multiple features.  The additional target metrics will be added with a calculation property of No Value instead of Default and in order to setup strategy maps to accept multiple filters you need to modify the workspace XML file and change the AcceptsMultipleFilterLinks value for the EndPoint.

The content in the book is right on and the examples are just not your basic ‘Hello World’ ones either.  I would give this book a 5 out of 5 stars.  I would definitely recommend adding this book to your collection and I can’t wait to read their other book The Rational Guide To Planning with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007.

The Rational Guide To Monitoring and Analyzing with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007 (Rational Guides)
by Nick Barclay, Adrian Downes

Read more about this book…

Posted in PerformancePoint | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Book Review – Business Intelligence with Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007

Posted by denglishbi on February 23, 2008

I just finished reading Craig Utley’s book titled Business Intelligence with Microsoft Office PerfomancePoint Server 2007.  This is a really quick read and it is a really good resource for someone that is not familiar with the product and is wondering what is included.  This starts out with a quick introduction to business intelligence and then dives into the product and talks about the two main components, Monitoring and Analyzing along with Planning.  If you are not familiar with ProClarity there is a good section in the book explaining the majority of the reporting options (grids, charts, decomposition trees, perspective charts, and performance maps) within ProClarity and how they work. 

The book also explains how to configure the dashboard and utilize filters to be able to dynamically change the data within the scorecard, charts, and reports.  There is a chapter in regards to deployment and how to properly configure the different Windows services.  At the end of the book it discusses Excel PivotTables and PivotCharts and how to use SSRS to report against a cube.

Overall I would probably give the book a 4 on a 1 to 5 scale (5 being the highest rating).  There are some grammatical mistakes, but no technical mistakes that I saw.  I didn’t like having to flip between pages to view the screenshots that were being explained throughout the reading.  It seemed like the majority of the images were always on the next page which is always a pain when you are reading a book.  This is a really introductory book in regards to the PerformancePoint Server product (no deep dives in regards to the technology), but it goes through each portion of the product and explains how they all work.  I also thought that the book was a little overpriced (49.99 retail, but Amazon has it listed for 31.49) for the content, but I would definitely recommend it if you want to get up-to-speed with how the product works and what functionality you get.

Business Intelligence with Microsoft® Office PerformancePoint Server 2007
by Craig Utley

Read more about this book…

Posted in PerformancePoint | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

 
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