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Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review : Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting” - I still remember the first time I read this quote from an article about Henry David Thoreau. Even though it was a long time back, I can’t forget the ample amount of time I spent pondering over the depth of these seemingly simple words. It is arguable whether the meaning of these great words ever dawned upon the 14 year old that was me at that time, but what I can say with conviction is that this new book that I am reviewing made me remember and reflect about it once again.
Buy "Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View"

SQL Server 2012 has been an exciting release for techno geeks like me, and Power View has been one of the star attractions. Being a reporting enthusiast, I spared no pains in getting my laptop upgraded so that I could get to the bare minimums for testing out Power View. From the little time I spent with Power View, I found it to be really simple and easy to understand. Hence when I heard that there was a new book on Power View coming to the stands, my first question was – How on earth could there be enough matter to fill a whole book on Power View? I was pleasantly surprised when I received my copy of “Visualizing Data with Microsoft Power View”.

The authors (Brian Larson, Mark Davis, Dan English and Paul Purington) have done a splendid job of explaining all the features of Power View in an easily understandable format. Even though the target audience for this book are Power View beginners which includes non-technical business users, it also gives professionals who are acquainted with the tool (like me) an opportunity to review all the functionalities and fix the gaps in learning. Let me summarize the contents in a nutshell -the initial chapter takes the reader through an introduction of Power View and chapters 2, 3 and 4 concentrate on the different visualizations available in Power View. Chapter 5 builds up on the previous chapters and discusses the interactive features of Power View (this is the chapter where my favourite feature of Power View is being explained – the Play axis). Chapter 6 gives a fitting end to the Power View part by explaining how to save, secure, print and export Power View reports. Apart from the above 6 chapters, there are another 5 chapters on how to create a BI Semantic Model (BISM). This is important as Power View requires this layer called  BISM between the report and the data. As the author rightly says in the video, this layer might already be built for the users by the IT team. But there is nothing to fear even if this is not the case as the chapters give a good introduction on BISM. This is not intended for the readers who are trying to get advanced knowledge in BISM and there are other books in the market for that. But if your main intention is to create Power View reports and you would like to learn the basics of BISM for the said purpose, there is no better book than this at the moment. The book also has an accompanying DVD with more than 4 hours of video demonstrations for people who like to learn visually. The appendix section gives instructions on how to setup a virtual learning environment as well as configuring the sample data. With all that said, I can say this book is a must have for anyone interested in using Power View reports or looking to expand their knowledge on Power View. Go ahead and buy the paperback edition from this link or get it on your Kindle from this link (it is at a very affordable price too). Meanwhile, I will be having fun going through the exercises. As I said in the beginning – What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.

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