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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review: Expert Cube Development with Analysis Services 2008

Full disclosure: the authors of this book provided me with a free review copy of this book.


As the title suggests Expert Cube Development with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services is not a book for SSAS beginners. This book fills a need that has been out there for a while when it comes to Analysis Services publications: a concentrated volume focused on enhancing the knowledge of the experienced SSAS pro. From the outset the authors assume the reader already has experience with the product, cover a few ground rules and get right down to business.

The amount of real world SSAS implementation experience shared between Alberto, Marco & Chris shines through indicating just how much work they’ve collectively done with Analysis Services. Many technical books have advanced sections or whole chapters dedicated to more advanced development techniques and tips. Being pitched as an expert book enables this level of content to pretty much fill the entire publication.

There is a lot of goodness jammed into the book’s 320-ish pages. You can sense that the authors tried hard to fit as many tips, tricks and techniques into each chapter as possible without bloating the text. They do not waste page space explaining the simple stuff because, if you’re reading this book, you should know the simple stuff. Each chapter remains concise and tells you what you need to know and where to go if you want to find out more by means of links to blog posts, white papers and other books as well as downloadable sample code.

My only criticism is a somewhat superficial one and is probably directed more at the book’s editor than its authors. There were no reference numbers and caption text underneath any of the screenshots, tables and figures at all. The non-textual items seemed naked without them and this made the end product seem a little less polished. As a reader I prefer it when the text points specifically to “Figure 1.2” instead of “the screenshot”. On some occasions the text didn’t even make direct reference to the item that appeared on the page with it, the relationship was implied by proximity.

If you have not worked much with SSAS yet then this is not a book you should be starting with. If, however, you’ve been working with the product and want to ensure you’re squeezing every last bit of performance out of your OLAP databases, this is a book you’ll want to read cover to cover. Even the most seasoned SSAS experts will come across material or techniques they did not know of or had forgotten about.

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