Most helpful positive review
on July 9, 2004
One question that may be going through your mind as you read these reviews is "Should I buy this book or 'MDX Solutions'?". I know that because that is what went through mine about three months ago as I read them.
In general, Fast Track is seen as the introductory book, Solutions as the expert's book. So I nearly skipped Fast Track and went directly to Solutions; I am so glad I didn't.
Fast Track is certainly the book to buy if you are new to MDX. It does a great job of introducing the language, it is excellently written by a set of true craftspeople - it is highly readable and, heaven help us, at times it is even amusing. This isn't like reading a text book, it is like sitting down with the guys who wrote it and having them tell you how MDX works.
Solutions is much less readable - we are talking about a typically stodgy reference book. But it does have a massive amount of information and that information is accurate and therefore highly useful.
So the easy answer is to buy both books, learn the basics from Fast Track and then use Solutions as a reference. And that is all I was initially going to write as my review. But I glanced back through Fast Track before I did so, looking back at it now as someone who now understands the language. And I was amazed at the amount of information that these guys cover. For example, MDX has about 150 functions in all, and Fast Track covers about 50 of them. Since they have carefully chosen the most commonly used ones, by the end of the book, you are familiar with most of the functions that you will ever need. And even better, you have enough background information to be able to understand the rest by reading the help system.
In addition they cover queries, expressions, calculated members, moving averages, distinct count, filters, colour coding, navigating the hierarchy, parent-child dimensions, member properties, security, the list goes on and on.
So, this is an introductory book in the sense that it assumes that you know nothing about MDX and introduces it gently. What is so subtle about the book is that it makes learning so easy, such fun, that you simply don't notice how much information these guys are pumping into your brain. Remember that Mosha Pasumansky invented MDX and he is one of the authors. He really does know what you really need in order to get started and up to speed.