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Enjoy Another Sandwich -- Kent Tegels

Yummy slices of SQL Server between slices of .NET and XML

SQL Server 2005 Integration Services using Visual Studio 2005: A Beginner's Guide

In short: This is an example of a good idea in the wrong format -- a good book if you are starting at absolute zero and need specific step-by-step procedures. Being printed hurts more than it helps.


Let me begin by saying Kshipra Singh, from PACKT Publishing send me an e-mail via my blog with a simple request. In return for a complimentary copy of this book, would I post a review of it on my blog? I am hardly one to turn down a free book and I have been looking for one that I could recommend to my students and others who are just getting started with SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). This, then, is my keeping of that bargain.


Jayaram Krishnaswamy's book is one example of a growing class of books that I believe should not have been printed. It is not a bad book, but rather, the content of it would probably be a lot better suited to its targeted reader had it been an e-book or as a DVD screen capture with a video and voice-over by the author. As many technical books that I have seen of the years -- and like ones that will admit, I have written -- the text is step-by-step procedural and makes up volume with screenshots. Knowledge presented like this I found is best done live (where interaction encourages questions), next done best by recorded demonstration (to maintain step-sequential context) lastly in a scrollable, random access method like an e-book. Print books really do not allow those types of interactions


Something else is missing too. Let me make an analogy. Let us say that you know very little about how to prepare a cake. You might already familiar with the hardware required: a stove, a pan and mixing bowl. You may also be familiar with the software needed: a cake mix, some eggs, some oil and some water. You can follow the directions in a cookbook (or the back of the mix box) and produce a cake. Just like the directions from the cookbook or box-back, this book is fair treatment of how to use the package designer to accomplish a given set of data integration tasks if that's need to do.


However, what did really learn about "making a cake" from the process?


Based on my personal experiences and those related to me by my students, the hardest part of "getting" SSIS is not how to accomplish a certain task, its understanding why the parts of it do what it does. Going back to our cake analogy, the cookbook does very little to explain why should mix the batter in a separate bowl before pouring into the baking pan. It does not bother to explain the delicate chemical interactions between the egg proteins, the salts, sugar, fats, water and heat that take place during the mixing and baking process. In just the same sense, this book comes up short when explaining essentials such as the dataflow pipeline, buffers and what many of the tasks and components actually do or can be used for.


Nor is there much here that would help go from "baking a cake" to "baking bread." These are similar processes but with some different tools used and some different steps used. This book will help you do the tasks it talks about, but it offers little more than that, especially when it comes to analyzing a problem and synthesizing a different solution. In my opinion, those are the two most important things to master about SSIS and that is, ideally, what a beginner's book would cover.


Of course, that might seem like I am saying that you should have to have a course in organic chemistry and thermodynamics before you can make a cake. Well, obviously, that is not the case. After you have baked a few cakes, learned from your mistakes and maybe even read a book like Shirley Corriher's Cookwise: The Secrets of Cooking Revealed you get enough down of science to be effective at baking cakes, breads and other pastries. If there is a parallel to Cookwise for SSIS, it is Kirk Haselden's Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Integration Services.


So would I recommend this book? In certain cases, yes. If you need to do something which this book particularly addresses quickly and with a minimum of cost, it is a good fit. However, if need to invest your time and money in really learning SSIS because it is a key part of your project or job then no, I would not recommend it. There are more appropriate books to be had.

Published Saturday, February 09, 2008 2:14 PM by ktegels
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Ryan Means said:

Though you state in your post that you are still looking for a good beginner book to recommend for people who are just getting started with SSIS would you be able to provide a short list of books that might aid in crossing the hurdle that must be overcome in order to use SSIS effectively.



February 11, 2008 2:34 PM

ktegels said:

Kirk Haselden's Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Integration Services (ISBN 978-0672327810) currently tops my list as the entry point of choice; As scripting commonly becomes part of most solutions, I recommend setting The Rational Guide to Extending SSIS 2005 with Script by Donald Farmer (978-1932577259). Expert SQL Server 2005 Integration Services is helpful if you are building datamarts for SSAS (978-0470134115).

February 11, 2008 5:44 PM
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About ktegels

Kent Tegels passed away on July 31, 2010. Kent was an Adjunct Professor at Colorado Technical University and a member of the technical staff at PluralSight. He was recognized by Microsoft with Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status in SQL Server for his community involvement with SQL Server and .NET. Kent held Microsoft Certifications in Database Administration and Systems Engineering, and contributed to several books on data access programming and .NET. He was a well known industry speaker, and resided in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
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