Why I created a blog

Its been four years since I first created this blog. It has remained true to Essbase and related information over those years. Hopefully it has answered questions and given you insight over those years. I will continue to provide my observations and comments on the ever changing world of EPM. Don't be surprised if the scope of the blog changes and brings in other Hyperion topics.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book review: Oracle Essbase 11 Development Cookbook

I was recently sent a copy of the book Oracle Essbase 11 Development Cookbook by Jose Ruiz and published by Packt publishing.  Before I give you my review, I need to have disclaimer. First, the book was sent to me free to review it. Second, I work for a consulting firm that has competing books(Although from the intended audience, that should not be the case). Third, I did not read the entire book as this type of book is used more as a reference than a step by step guide. Fourth.I am probably not the intended audience for the book as I believe my capabilities are higher than what the book has to offer. Finally, I’m not a big fan of the cookbook style of book.
I will say I was excited to get the book. There are so few books out there for Hyperion and fewer for intermediate to advanced developers. The book says it is for experienced developers and users. I think the book is more for beginner to low intermediate users. The book offers 90 recipes  for various topics from setting up a relational repository for Essbase, Using Essbase Studio for building an Essbase Model, Using EAS to build an Essbase model (Load rules, dim build rules, Calc scripts), Partitions, Security, Reporting and more.
I want to start out on a positive note, There are a lot of things to like about this book. If you are trying to do something you have not tried before, it gives you an example of how you can do it.  If you want to vary from what or how the book does it, you are on your own. Next, the book covers a wide range of topics so you could put this book on your shelf as a reference. Finally, you can download the examples in the book so you can test them yourself. This is nice. Since I got this book as a preview copy, I didn’t get the downloadable materials.  I know how hard it is to write a book and I give kudos to Jose for his work. It is evident that Jose has a broad knowledge of the products and was able to put together some nice examples of things developers do. 
Perhaps I’m jaded, but there were a number of things I did not like about the book. The biggest one for me was a statement included in the book about the files you can download for the book containing a paper by Gary Crisci. While he is given credit as author for the collateral, I conversed with him and he was never approached to give consent to have his work included. As an author and speaker, I know I would not want my work included without my permission.
There are other annoyances in the book, some big some not so big. The following are little things followed by some bigger things. In chapter 1, the DDL (Data Definition language) for creating a table in SQL server tells you to create the child and description columns as VarChar(85). These are supposed to be used in building the Essbase members and aliases. But Most of us know the maximum length Essbase allows for these is 80 characters.
Next if you read through all of the recipes in chapter 1, all but one have you create the same database over and over again. If you follow the directions, after the first time, you will get errors as the object already exists. Similarly, In another chapter, you are asked to create Sample.Basic and ASOSamp.Basic databases. These databases ship with Essbase and there is no mention that you should delete them in order to get the examples to work.
The book seems to be inconsistent in the depth of instructions, is some cases, it assumes you will click buttons (like to save a selection) before going on, but it doesn’t tell you to do so. In other cases you are given detail instructions (like logging onto EAS). On the plus side, (for example partitions) Jose goes into different ways to enter the partition areas.
One of the reasons I don’t like cookbook type of books is that they tell you how to do specific things, but don’t go into derivations or detailed explanation of why you did what you did. This book is not much different, it tells you what you  are about to do, gives you the keystrokes to do it, then tells you what you did, but not why or what it really means to you. I realize that to do this would take a much larger book, but personally I want to know why I ‘m doing something. While there are 90 recipes, the book tries to cover a lot of topics. I understand to do all of the topics justice, you would need a book logarithmically bigger.It at least gives you some basic examples in all of the areas it covers.
So the big questions, would I buy the book, The answer for me is no, As I said for me it would not add value. This plus the issue of included material would turn me off. But, for a less experienced developer,it could be a good reference.

As you can see I am a critical reviewer as I believe real, honest revews are necessary for an author to improve. That said, I've not had anyone review my book. If you would like to give feedback, either post it here as a comment or go to Amazon.com or Lulu.com and review the book there. I welcome all feedback positive or negative

4 comments:

er77 said...

Glenn, I am pleased to have bought your book)

srx said...

Thank you Glenn for your review. I'm glad I did not sent you my our book for a review (http://bit.ly/ikG9V3) (o: just kidding!

In which I'm concerned I overviewed the OE11DevCookbook and I must admit that there's too much Essbase Studio content - and for me Essbase Studio is not Essbase is not Essbase.

Best regards. SebRoux

GlennS said...

I can understand going over Studio. It is an important step forward and will bring in mpre IT types to Essbase development. On the down side, I'm not sure the book does justice to all yo ucan do in Studio and some things seemed to be out of place. For example, in one section he is going over creating metadata elements and all of a sudden jumps to creating alias sets and aliases. It just didn't fit well.

Jason said...

Sounds like you felt the same way about the book as I did -- a nice addition to the bookshelf for some, but not a big fan of the cookbook style (at least for this subject).