Here’s the second of my (paid-for) articles for the folks at Softartisans:
This time they wanted me to write something about using OfficeWriter with Analysis Services, and after a bit of thinking I came up with the idea of trying to generate Excel workbooks using OfficeWriter and Reporting Services that use the new Excel 2007 cube functions so that they have live links back to Analysis Services. After a lot of sweat I got it to work, and I have to thank Excel MVP Charley Kyd (the guy behind the Excel BI site http://www.exceluser.com/) for giving me the solution to the problem of OfficeWriter writing values to the cell Value rather than Formula property. Hopefully this is the sort of thing that could be made easier when/if OfficeWriter gets integrated with SSRS in Katmai.
I’ve got an admission to make: I’ve never really done anything seriously with Business Scorecard Manager (perhaps European businesses are less interested in formal methodologies like the Balanced Scorecard?), so when Nick Barclay asked me if I’d like a free copy of his new book about it I was very interested to see it so I could get up to speed. Having been a long-time reader of his blog (http://nickbarclay.blogspot.com/) and also having recently started reading his co-author Adrian Downes’ blog (http://adriandownes.blogspot.com/), I had high expectations since both are among the best Microsoft BI-related blogs out there and I wasn’t disappointed.
BSM2005 isn’t a massive topic, and as such is an ideal fit for the Rational Guide series where books are limited to 224 pages in length to make sure they’re as concise as possible. In a world where most IT books seem to be doorstop-sized this is a welcome move, and although Nick and Adrian have sidestepped this constraint by making a couple of extra chapters download-only the book is very to-the-point without descending to Books Online territory. The technical side of things is handled with great clarity and there’s also a healthy amount of discussion of the theory of performance management too. The text is clearly laid out with a lot of illustrations and all processes are broken up into numbered steps making it all very readable.
The one obvious (and probably unfair, but it’s what everyone will be thinking) criticism that can be made about this book is that it’s about BSM2005 rather than the forthcoming PerformancePoint. Hopefully the authors are planning to update it as soon as PerformancePoint gets released, whenever that will be – it seems like the entire Microsoft BI world has been holding its breathe waiting for PerformancePoint for so long we’re in danger of turning blue and fainting. Apart from that, if you’re about to start a project involving BSM2005 I can’t imagine a better resource to have on your desk.
You can buy it from Amazon UK here.