Preparing this book review, I felt a little like George
Costanza from Seinfeld. Remember that episode where George had to read the book
Breakfast at Tiffany's for a book club he had joined. He went to great
pains to find and watch the movie because he was too lazy to read the book.
This book sat on my desk for weeks and I just couldnt seem
to open it. Once I finally did, I still had to force myself to keep going.
Not that the book was poorly written but because I was just feeling lazy. Then
I remembered that the DVD that comes with the book includes video tutorials for
each chapter. Soon, I was comfortably viewing my way to a good understanding
24-Hour Trainer: Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Integration Services
Brian Knight, Devin Knight, Mike Davis
Paperback, 384 pages, July 2009
The Movie: Better Than the Book?
The authors would probably want to slap me if I told them
their video tutorials were better than the book, and for good reason. The book
is excellent and its clear they put a lot of hard work into it. Heres what I
like about the book:
The overall concept is learn it fast
in 24 hours
Chapters are short and focused on a single, easy to digest topic
About half of each chapter is the Try It section where you get
The examples are well designed and seem to contain no frustrating
Comprehensive coverage of what appears to be all the important
That having been said, it was the video tutorials that
really impressed me. Im ashamed to admit that at first, SSIS intimidated me a
little. Now that Ive been through the tutorials, I wonder what I was ever afraid
of. Its similar to how I felt a decade ago when I first started learning SQL
Server. I was so confounded by the new technology that I took one of those
week long, instructor-led training courses. It was a great jump start and
helped me overcome that initial new-technology fear factor.
Remembering that experience got me thinking; how much would
it cost to take a course on SQL Server Integration Services at one of the
national training companies? New Horizons is my favorite, so I looked it up on
their website and sure enough, they have a 3-day course on SSIS. It will set
you back $1350. No doubt the course is worth it, but the outline
for the course suggests its not all that different from what you learn in
the Knight's 24-Hour Trainer for SSIS.
This Wrox book sports the typical tech-book price of $49.99
but in my opinion, its completely worth it. In fact, Im not the only one who
thinks so. The reviews on Amazon are all glowing, not one of them giving it
less than 4 stars. Also, I was first attracted to this title because it was
said the book was a favorite of those attending the PASS Conference. Having
read the book and watched the tutorials, I understand why.
Excellent Video Tutorials
By now, youve probably ascertained that I liked the
tutorials, but you neednt simply take my word for it. One of them, chapter
45, is posted on YouTube so you can view it for yourself. Its the lesson on running
packages and serves as a good representative sample of what to expect.
There is, in fact, a video for every chapter in the book. Heres
what I like about the tutorials:
The authors are easy to listen to and the sound quality is
Zooming, highlighting and pointers are used to good effect
The pace is just right. I was able to perform the tasks myself
as I watched the video (I work with dual monitors)
They parallel the chapter text perfect but amplify it well
That last point will probably need some explanation. It goes
without saying that writing is a vastly different medium than speaking but
exactly how its different is not so obvious. When we speak, we spontaneously
emphasize things as we think of them. Its difficult to write that way and
editors like to revise such rambling and disjointed text. When speaking,
however, one can get away with a lot of spontaneous interjection, and thats
exactly what happens on the videos.
For example, while demonstrating how to create a Send Mail
Task, the narrator casually mentions that one can check on the progress of the
task by clicking the Progress tab. Duh! But I never even noticed it there. I
mean, most tutorial tasks run so quickly their incremental progress doesnt
matter. In this case, however, the mail server couldnt be found so the task
was waiting for a time-out, which gave me an opportunity to watch the
progress of the task.
There were other numerous little things the authors
interjected, probably without even realizing it, that were valuable in my
understanding of how to work in the BIDS development environment.
This concept also applies to things that were not omitted
from the chapter but which simply blew by me when I read it, or were not
clear. An example of that is the use of the Union All task, which the Authors
use as a generic receptacle into which to execute tasks. Below is a screen
shot of how this package appeared in my SSIS environment. I mean, its clear WHAT
one needs to do but not entirely clear WHY one would do this. In the tutorial,
the authors had an opportunity to amplify the reasoning for using this control.
I loved this book and I loved getting up to speed with
SSIS. In retrospect, I feel stupid for putting it off. I highly recommend
this book for anyone wanting to get started with SQL Server Integration
Years ago, I cut my development teeth on Microsoft Access
and VBA code and frankly, thats what I have traditionally used to perform
tasks that are simple in SSIS. I once built a VBA application to locate a SQL
Server backup file, zip it and ftp it off-site. It took a bit of code and a
couple library references to do something easily accomplished in SSIS. Thanks
to the Knight's 24-Hour Trainer for SSIS I now have a much easier way to
accomplish this and many other data management tasks and they make learning it
a real pleasure.
See All Articles by Columnist Danny J. Lesandrini