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Fast Track to MDX Paperback – October 15, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Springer; 2nd edition (October 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846281741
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846281747
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,036,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

OLAP (On-Line Analytical Processing) is the most powerful Business Intelligence tool currently available and Microsoft's Analysis Manager makes OLAP cubes incredibly easy to build and deploy. However the real power of OLAP lies in its ability to help you solve real-life business problems; to release that power you need to use the language that controls the cubes and allows them to be queried. That language is MDX (Multi Dimensional eXpressions).
Fast Track to MDX gives you all the necessary background to let you to write useful, powerful MDX expressions and introduces the most frequently used MDX functions and constructs. No prior knowledge is assumed and examples are used throughout the book to rapidly develop your MDX skills to the point where you can solve real business problems.
Mark Whitehorn, co-author of the best-selling Inside Relational Databases, is renowned for his knowledge of database systems and the lucidity of his writing. Robert Zare is a Program Manager for Analysis Services at Microsoft: his inspiring talks on MDX sowed the seeds from which this book grew. Mosha Pasumansky was one of the authors of the OLEDB for OLAP specification that defined the MDX language and later he was the developer in charge of the first implementation of MDX in the Microsoft OLAP Services 7.0 product. He is currently the development lead of the Analysis Services engine team.
Second Edition – It was the clarity, precision and sheer readability of the first edition that made it a best-seller. With that firmly in mind the authors have left the original 18 chapters intact (apart from minor updates); meaning that the second edition remains the best introduction to MDX that is available. What they have done is to add three brand new chapters. These introduce the topic of recursion in MDX, walk the reader through the process of creating recursive expressions and finally demonstrate how recursion can be used to effectively solve a series of business problems.
Forward by Amir Netz, Product Unit Manager, SQL Server – Analysis Services at Microsoft.

About the Author

Mark Whitehorn, co-author of the best-selling Inside "Relational Databases," is renowned for his enthusiasm towards data handling and for the lucidity of his writing.

Robert Zare is a Program Manager for Analysis Services at Microsoft: his inspiring talks on MDX sowed the seeds from which this book grew.

Mosha Pasumansky was one of the authors of the OLEDB for OLAP specification that defined the MDX language and later he was the developer in charge of the first implementation of MDX in the Microsoft OLAP Services 7.0 product. He is currently the development lead of the Analysis Services engine team. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Fast Track is certainly the book to buy if you are new to MDX.
Paul Dickson
It is a great book if you are currently confused by the basics of MDX and need to get up to speed quickly.
Paul Wilson
In particular i like the way that tuples and set are explained; clear examples and very easy reading.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 100 people found the following review helpful By Paul Wilson on October 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
Reviews for this book seem to differ, mostly people think its great, but a few think its terrible. I think some people are buying the wrong book, so here is my attempt to help them to save their money.

This is a really bad book if you are expecting a detailed explanation on how to speed up complex MDX statements. It is a dreadful book if you want to see every function in MDX listed, this book only covers about a third of them. This is a terrible book of you are already familiar with MDX and are looking for a book to take that knowledge further. Do not waste your money on this book if that is what you want; this is the wrong book for you.

On the other hand, this is an excellent book if you know nothing about MDX and you are trying to learn it from scratch. It is a superb book if you want the basics explained clearly, in plain English, with multiple examples. It is a great book if you are currently confused by the basics of MDX and need to get up to speed quickly.

I started out wanting to know about MDX from scratch and I found it one of the best technical books that I have every read. I didn't find any of it repetitive or slow because I was having to absorb a whole load of new concepts and ideas. Sometimes the authors do explain something in more than one way, but then I need that.

Take `Tuple' for example, the authors explain it carefully, building up this complex idea bit by bit. Before I read this the book, I just couldn't get my head around the idea, now it all makes sense. But I'm sure that section would have seemed boring and repetitive if I had know all about tuples before I bought the book.

Which bring me back to the original point.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Paul Dickson on July 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
One question that may be going through your mind as you read these reviews is "Should I buy this book or `MDX Solutions'?". I know that because that is what went through mine about three months ago as I read them.
In general, Fast Track is seen as the introductory book, Solutions as the expert's book. So I nearly skipped Fast Track and went directly to Solutions; I am so glad I didn't.
Fast Track is certainly the book to buy if you are new to MDX. It does a great job of introducing the language, it is excellently written by a set of true craftspeople - it is highly readable and, heaven help us, at times it is even amusing. This isn't like reading a text book, it is like sitting down with the guys who wrote it and having them tell you how MDX works.
Solutions is much less readable - we are talking about a typically stodgy reference book. But it does have a massive amount of information and that information is accurate and therefore highly useful.
So the easy answer is to buy both books, learn the basics from Fast Track and then use Solutions as a reference. And that is all I was initially going to write as my review. But I glanced back through Fast Track before I did so, looking back at it now as someone who now understands the language. And I was amazed at the amount of information that these guys cover. For example, MDX has about 150 functions in all, and Fast Track covers about 50 of them. Since they have carefully chosen the most commonly used ones, by the end of the book, you are familiar with most of the functions that you will ever need. And even better, you have enough background information to be able to understand the rest by reading the help system.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 15, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are new to MDX, just get this book. I have a heavy SQL/Programming background (C,C++, C# )and was having a hard time grasping MDX. The manuals don't do justice. Also it is hard to learn MDX from Analysis Services. Am from the old school that likes to type out commands to see results and both the Proclarity tool that comes with it and the Microsoft Sample Application are good to try out the examples. In particular i like the way that tuples and set are explained; clear examples and very easy reading. Also covered well are dimensions,measures, members, cells, heirarchies and aggregations. As is true with most complex topics in maths and computer science fine introductory books that are interesting and drive home concepts are rare. This is one such book. The concepts almost flow out of the author and into your brain !! Am almost at the end of the book. Took me less than 2 weeks ( 1 chapter per day , 18 chapters in all ). With Yukon not too far off all SQL professionals must be familiar with MDX as it is going to be a key part of MSFT's BI offering. My thanks to the authors and would like to suggest that they come out with a sequel for advanced readers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Gene Trussell on May 31, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
While the book is a good introduction to MDX, as a developer I felt the book was too centered on a DBA's needs. The majority (from Ch. 5 through Ch. 17) concentrates on creating Calculated Members using the SQL Management Studio, as well as the various Wizards therein. While I can see this as being beneficial to the DBA while setting up the Cubes, a Calculated Member is just a small subset of what is involved in MDX. I was able to skip over the chapters pertaining to Security, Cell Colors and Actions without the worry of missing anything as it pertains to retrieving data from a Cube, to be presented to a user for analysis (unfortunately, only a couple of chapters cover the "query" aspect of MDX). I would have liked to see more complex query examples given and broken down; I'm sure there is more to MDX queries, even at an introductory level, than the basic SELECT...FROM...WHERE statements given.

That said, the explanation of terms (tuples, sets, members, etc) at the beginning were extremely helpful for a beginner such as myself. The author covers a great deal of functions, however I think some of the descriptions were too simplistic for the intended audience(OLAP developers, DBAs and power OLAP users; in other words, people that have experience with basic functions like SUM and AVG, in either Excel, SQL QA, etc.).

Also, a note for Kindle readers: The Kindle edition is the 1st Edition, even though the Product Details states 2nd Edition (October 15, 2005). The Kindle version is copyright 2002 and later reprinted in 2004, no 2 ed. mentioned. I didn't realize until it was too late...thanks, Amazon!
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