Top critical review
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A frustrating study guide.
on 6 April 2017
My background first - Analyst, MI Manager, Data Warehouse Developer.
I am currently taking a career break and decided to study full-time to finally get my MCSA. Whilst quals don't prove that you don't know the subject matter, not having them often closes doors before they open. So accreditation it is.
70-461 was straight forward. I whizzed through 2-3 chapters a day. I had set up a virtual machine and the exercises were simple to follow.
Then, like so many others on here, I started on 70-463.
I didn't even consider the errata until I reached chapter 7. I assumed that the book, being a later publication version would have been fully updated by now. Funnily enough, most of the typos listed had been corrected, so I fell into a false sense of security and trust with the book. More fool me.
It turns out that it isn't so much the errors within the book itself that pose the greatest frustration, but rather those within the exercises, as cited by so many other reviewers. Pre-configured connections that just don't work, code that fails when it shouldn't and doesn't when it should. In a way it has helped as my trouble-shooting skills have increased dramatically. My familiarisation with SSIS has no doubt improved more that it would have, as I have been forced to delve into areas not covered by the specific exercises. However, and this is the issue, as a consequence some chapters have taken days to cover. For a number of reasons: losing focus and motivation due to frustration; taking breaks because it is so demoralising; switching between chapters to review what should have happened and then discovering why it now doesn't work.
Bizarrely, the errata mentions nothing about the errors in the exercises.
Why three stars? Well, it's a thick book. I think that it has value as a reference book (despite that not being its primary purpose). As a training book it is poor. The exercise issues are a real pain. If there were other options.... but even other training sites with videos (that I found useful for 461) don't seem to cover 463 in sufficient depth (e.g. pluralsight).
Another bugbear is the language. I'm a techy. I'm also intelligent. I have a Masters. But for God's sake, why so wordy? In some chapters it's almost as if the authors are intentionally writing it for only academics to follow, not those of us who are advocates of plain English. It may take half the space to make a point if you use words with 6 syllables, but it takes five times as long to read and understand it.
I'm about two-thirds through and I now feel compelled to write a review. After searching for documentation highlighting the errors in the exercises all I came across was one blog by erikhaselhofer and the reviews on Amazon. I thought that I'd contribute another constructive criticism with the intention that it tempers the expectations of anyone else making the same purchase: "beware ye who enter here", but not quite "abandon all hope".