Microsoft Excel 2013 Building Data Models with PowerPivot Paperback – Mar 15 2013
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About the Author
Alberto Ferrari has achieved Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) Maestro status and is a consultant and trainer who specializes in developing Microsoft BI solutions. He is the coauthor of Microsoft PowerPivot for Excel 2010 and Expert Cube Development with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services and SQLBI Methodology.
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Top Customer Reviews
After completing the whirlwind introductory tour of PowerPivot in Kasper DeJong's book, the Russo-Ferari book takes you up to an entirely unsuspected new level.
This time, ditch the inflatable arm cushions and get ready for a deep-dive into the core of it all.
Be warned: this is one serious book worth both every penny and every hour spent on it. It should probably not be the first book to start up from zero - a rank beginner will most be likely be completely overwhelmed. Kasper de Jong's looks like a more suitable kickstart book.
It begins easily enough, until you land in chapters 7 and 8 regarding the evaluation context. The confidence you gained so far is in for a major challenge. This is the land mine field where the first wrong turn puts a swift end to your illusions of being PowerPivot-ready.
Chapter 12, covering Time Intelligence is also great at explaining what is involved.
The authors made a special effort to highlight a few cases where it is better to use Excel instead of DAX and the PowerPivot data model. For instance, enriching a calendar table to identify working days and statutory holidays. It is shown how it could be done by forcing a new relationship but conclude that the extra effort and complication is totally unwarranted as there is no corresponding return for doing it the hard way.
In addition to the crystal-clear explanation of the key topic (evaluation context), this book is accompanied with a large set of ready-made Excel spreadsheets (from an open Internet site).Read more ›
Its a fair reference material yet some of the examples could be clearer
All in all the material is good and I learned much.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The pace of new information introduction seems to accelerate, and there is more and more reliance on you remembering concepts from earlier in the book, that some may find a bit discouraging (for a shot of confidence boost, check out Collie's book, which is a fantastic beginner's book). I think an expectation on the author's part is that the reader will not understand everything on the first try, and will re-read sections for more complete understanding - just be prepared for that.
I read 4 PowerPivot books so far, and while some go mile wide and a foot deep (Jelen's book), and others go foot wide and a mile deep (Collie's book), this one tries (and does) boil the entire ocean. The book has both a technical edge of thorough, complex DAX scenarios with explanations of potential errors and why the errors occur, and a more conceptual side, which goes in some depth explaining Data Modeling and thinking in Evaluation Context terms.
At its current Amazon price, it is an extremely great value. It is THE book if you want to master PowerPivot. If you are more of a casual user, you may find it more challenging than necessary, but the sections on CALCULATE and Evaluation Context are truly invaluable and are not really well-covered in other books, so it is well worth getting this book just for that.
I'd like to recommend this book to those who haven't learned or mastered how to use DAX in Excel 2010, 2011, or 2013 and those who want to master PowerPivot.
DAX works with tables but if you don't use tables, I guess you can skip DAX because you must have infinite time to produce marginal analytical outcomes (tongue in cheek humor). However, if you're like most folks, you want a book to get you up-to-speed quickly, and that's what this book will do for you.
Just a couple caveats, the book assumes:
- An intermediate knowledge of Excel functions
- Basic knowledge of SQL and database modeling concepts
- It introduces but doesn't cover all potential advance uses
- It discusses VBA approaches in one short chapter
If you're serious about Business Intelligence (BI), and familiar with getting your data from an Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server database or SharePoint server, this is a great book for you to learn PowerPivot and the DAX language.
Don't forget, you get best results when you pre-select data before applying analytics in Excel. Remember the more refined the data model you start with the easier it is to structure analytical tools to leverage the data model. While DAX is powerful, it doesn't replace the speed and query optimized behaviors of effective Oracle, MySQL, or SQL Server queries.
I guess I'm pretty much the target audience here, then. I'm an all-day excel user, but had not yet gotten PowerPivot as my company was still on excel 2007. Moreover, I only have a passing familiarity with cubes and BI stuff, facts and dimensions and star schemas, oh my!
But I had heard about this PowerPivot fad (kidding!) and have been intrigued.
I recently upgraded to Excel 2013 on my home computer just so I could begin to play around with this new feature. While I don't love the look and feel of excel 2013, it was worth it.
Okay, enough about excel itself. What do I think of this book? Why did I choose this one over one of the many others? How the heck am I reviewing it before it has even been released? Do I like asking questions as a cheap rhetorical device before essentially answering them myself? YES! I also like to refer to myself in the third person, just to sound important.
As for the third question: I subscribe to an online library that, for some reason, already has this available.
Honestly, the main reason I chose this book over many others is that it has a very comprehensive coverage of the subject by authors who's previous book came highly recommended. Some books are more introductory (Jelen's), some focus on DAX alone, some are more for the Sharepoint stuff, this one seemed to have it all.
The authors spend a good bit of time going over database/warehouseing concepts and lingo for those of us who may need a bit of a refresher. As mentioned above, that was something I felt I could benefit from.
There is also coverage of the new PowerView feature, which reminds me a bit of a simplified Tableau for data exploration and dashboarding. It might be nice to see more on this subject. But I think that would be a separate book. And I'm sure we will see some written soon. After all, the title is "Building Data Models," not "Building Dashboards and Reports."
There is extensive coverage of the DAX language, which is something I have no experience with, so, again, good to have most of what we need in one book. Though I know whole books have been written on DAX.
From what I can tell, the Collie book is more readable and "fun." This one is more or less typical of similar technical books. I mean, it's not a suspense/thriller.
I have downloaded the supporting files and they are extensive. So far, all seem to be working correctly and are important to work through as you follow along with the book.
Overall, recommended if you are an excel pro who wants a single source book to learn about PowerPivot, DAX, PowerView, and data modeling in general.
The only aspect I was disappointed with are the sample excel workbooks that go along with each chapter. At times I found them to be incomplete, in terms of following the examples that are cited in the text. This can be frustrating when trying to understand new concepts. However, the book is brilliant, so this doesn't discourage me from giving it 5 stars.
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