Dax Formulas for Powerpivot Paperback – 1 Sep 2012
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About the Author
A former Microsoft engineering leader, Rob Collie is an entrepreneur, author, and consultant who believes Excel is enjoying a renaissance in power and importance - a trend that provides massive opportunities for the millions of Excel practioners worldwide. His passion is empowering and the Excel Professional to seize those opportunities. When he's not training, consulting, or writing, Rob can be found in his laboratory, devising new tools and techniques for the Excel community. He also operates the world's leading PowerPivot website (PowerPivotPro.com) and occassionally sleeps.
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The errors are everywhere as a mismatch between what is in the book and the order of trying to follow it in the download files that he makes available. There is no errata that I could find anywhere.
In a nutshell I think the problem is this. The download files are badly done and seem like a rush job
The names of the database tables in the Access Database are nothing like the names of the powerpivot tables. you have to work out (because he never tells you that FactInternetSales is 'Sales'). This is not the end of the world, but why not either take the time to tell you, or just keep the names in parallel. Early on he introduces a column called transactionType into the Sales table which he claims to import but in fact is called [field2] in the download Access Database. I was trying to follow the book like a tutorial but this becomes quite laboured because quite often there is a mismatch of some sort between the book and the file, confusing enough to make it extra work to follow along.
When you open the Excel workbook for any particular chapter you find that the order of the sheets is not the same as the examples being worked on. The examples don't all seem to be there and worst of all, the sheets are called things like 'sheet1' 'sheet7' 'sheet6' with no referencing whatsoever between the physical book and the Excel workbook. This made it intensely frustrating to follow along. I'm not saying this as a total newbie who barely knows Excel on the contrary, I'm an experienced professional programmer of Excel Spreadsheets amongst other things.
A friendly Expert voice who really is trying to make things understandable and interesting
I write this by way of warning so that you're not totally blinded by the loads of 5 stars on here and Amazon US
The companion files are sub-par in terms of tidiness, order of sheets, naming of sheets and sheer followability.
For the book:
When you add a DAX measure to use inside the pivot (as opposed to a calc column) it really helps to know on what underlying table (in the Powerpivot Data view window) you're adding the measure to. If you had screenshots of the add Calculated field dialog, you'd be able to see. But Collie says, "I don't want to take up too much space so I'll print out the formulae for you", which is right, and he does, but then he omits very often to say what table the measure is being created on.
Be prepared for a LOT of of extra head-scratching if you're going to re-create all the examples (which let's face it, is how most of us learn), which is a shame, because this is something that is about execution and not content, and could have been checked more thoroughly.
I would still recommend this book as it has some fantastic content and is worth taking the trouble over if you want to properly work with PowerPivot, also you don't have too much choice, DAX books are really thin on the ground.
All told Rob Collie is a good sort, he's humorous, he's personable and he's worked hard to really help his readers.
It's written in terms a simple Excel nerd can understand and Rob's, dare I say corny, enthusiasm is really quite infectious - if you've read his blog, you know what I mean. It's pretty clear how highly he regards the product!
The chapters are short and to the point, whilst also giving clear examples and the sort of incidental tips and tricks that can make such books invaluable to me. I have the Kindle version of this so I can read a couple of chapters on the train in the morning and experiment once I get to work.
In conjunction with Bill J's book, I think this will put most Excel people on a very good footing with PowerPivot. (The other two books I mentioned are also very well-written with plenty of detailed information and examples and are great resources once you have the basics under your belt)
Only one thing delayed my purchase and that was the book's sub-title: "The Excel Pro's Guide to Mastering DAX."
"Excel Pro." Mmm. Couldn't really put myself in that category. I use Excel of course, but my biggest "advanced" use of it is as a front-end for querying SQL Server databases. And my interest in PowerPivot has been whetted via research into the SQL Server BI stack which I'm hoping will be useful in my work.
However, I purchased the book and I'm very glad I did.
I read a lot of technical stuff - books, blogs and articles - but rarely have I read anything that deals with a complex subject in such an easy to digest style. It truly is a "how-to" manual. And considering that as a reader I was new to the subject it really is quite impressive.
Written in an easy going style that draws the reader on from one example to the next, the book divulges the "knowledge" in bite-sized chunks. The text is not, like some technical books, so small that the reader is left contemplating an appointment with their optician, but is big throughout. With formulas even larger and in bold. Excellent use of screenshots on almost, or so it seems, every page enhances further the "follow this guide..." feel.
The author is an expert in his subject. That should be obvious anyway, just by the fact that he has written the book. Rob Collie is something more though. He is evangelistic about PowerPivot itself, and the impact he believes it will have both on Excel professionals and the businesses they operate in.
Having read the book once, I think he could be right. Though, for this reader, once will not be enough. Especially as I'm now eager to try those DAX formulas against my own data.
PowerPivot - made exciting!