Building Business Intelligence Applications with .NET



Building Business Intelligence Applications with .NET

Today s business users demand and expect data integrity and sophisticated analytics from their invested computing platforms. With .NET establishing itself throughout large enterprises, the need to wire up .NET programming with business intelligence applications is rapidly rising. In response to this growing market demand, Charles River Media, a book publisher specializing in highly targeted computing topics, has released author Robert Ericsson s first book, Building Business Intelligence Applications with .NET. However, although the title capitalizes on the .NET brand recognition wave, the book is really a primer to the number-crunching world of data warehousing and applied analytics. In fact, a majority of the book is devoted to the discussion of constructing and using BI apps using Microsoft s BI technologies such as Microsoft Analysis Services, SQL Server 2000 BI-related utilities, and ADOMD.NET, which is still in beta form at the time of this review.


The first three chapters of the book serve as a crash course for readers unfamiliar with the five major business intelligence technologies: Data Warehousing, Data Mining, OLAP, Reporting, and Analytical Applications. Although the content is adequate, readers unfamiliar with this world will need to read the first three chapters carefully because of the number of BI acronyms and terms new to the uninitiated. These chapters also prepare the reader s development system with the necessary prerequisites to execute the 10+ projects available on the accompanying CD-ROM. These Visual Studio.NET solutions are all written in C#; some require signed Runtime Callable Wrappers (RCWs) to be created for some of the COM-based technologies, such as SQL Server s Data Transformation Services (DTS). Orientation with Excel Pivot Tables and Multi-Dimensional Expressions (MDX) is also provided for those who are aware of their existence but have never experimented with them.


Once the data warehouse has been populated via the OLAP cube wizards from the sales.mdb Access database supplied on the book s CD-ROM, Microsoft s Analysis Services clients are explored in Chapters 4 through 6. The examples provided use several client technologies, including OLEDB, ActiveX Data Objects Multi-dimensional (ADOMD), and XML for Analysis (XMLA). Reporting is covered in Chapter 7, leveraging Crystal Reports for VS.NET and ASP.NET to deliver data representations via Windows Forms and Web services-based access. Chapter 8 on Data Mining requires Microsoft s OLEDB for Data Mining extension to create a data-mining model for the book s examples to function. Once configured, the model is trained and prediction queries can be executed. Additionally, the Microsoft Analysis Manager Mining Model wizard and editor are used to build a clustering model and schema along with Predictive Model Markup Language (PMML) and XMLA to access the OLAP cubes.


The book concludes with a chapter on analytic applications with the construction of a Microsoft SharePoint server Web part. Appendixes for MDX Functions, Properties, Operators, XMLA Rowsets, OLEDB for OLAP Schemas, and a compact Statistics Primer, as well as a Glossary and Index, nicely round out the book. Unfortunately, the publisher missed a great opportunity to shuttle trial editions of Microsoft s tools onto the CD-ROM, effectively limiting the learning audience to MSDN Universal subscribers and wealthy Fortune 1500 corporations that have already purchased licenses to these tools.


The book is really about Microsoft s Business Intelligence suite of tools, with .NET playing a supporting role. Portions of this book may be overwhelming at times for developers being exposed to BI technologies for the first time, and it might be beneficial to read an introductory book on the topic before tackling the exercises presented in this book. For those who are already comfortable with BI applications and are acclimating to Microsoft s toolsets and the .NET Framework, this book is the only choice currently available.


Mike Riley



Title: Building Business Intelligence Applications with .NET

Author: Robert Ericsson

Publisher: Charles River Media

ISBN: 1-58450-271-1

Book Web Site:

Price: US$49.95

Page Count: 404 pages



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