Book Review: Azure Data Factory Cookbook (Second Edition)

Azure Data Factory Cookbook Book Cover

A few weeks ago, I received another book from our friends at PackT. It was the second edition of Azure Data Factory Cookbook by Dmitry Foshin, Dmitry Anoshin, Tonya Chernyshova, and Xenia Ireton.

I liked the earlier version of this book, and I was pleased to see substantial work had gone into this second edition.

It's interesting that the book doesn't stick directly to Azure Data Factory (ADF) but also branches into topics on Azure Synapse Analytics, Microsoft Fabric, and Databricks.

Cookbook books

I'm a fan of cookbook style books. In many cases, readers already understand the basics, and instead of a detailed coverage of all the material from a learning perspective, what they need is a cookbook that says "if you're trying to do this, try this". That's a very different approach.

I first saw it used widely in the books by Art Tennick. He had cookbook style offerings for MDX and DAX that I really enjoyed. I used to say that I had a lot of friends who dabbled in MDX but I think I only knew about 4 people who really "thought" in MDX. And rather than learning MDX from scratch, as a standalone concept and in depth, people often just needed examples of how to achieve particular outcomes. It is often the same for DAX today.

Throughout this book, there are "Getting Ready", "How to do it", "How it works" and sometimes "There's more". This is provided for all the things you try to do. I liked that structure.

Production

Overall, the book was good quality.

Like many current books, it struggles with the size of images. The tools don't lend themselves to narrow portrait-style screenshots, so it's hard for the authors to deal with that. This screenshot isn't too bad (others are much harder) but even a shot like this would be difficult for many readers:

ADF cookbook small writing

The other thing that I'm not a fan of with screenshots, is the use of dark mode themes. I don't think they work well in books:

Dark mode text

Content

It's a solid read, as it's around 500 pages. It provides very clear detail on how to load and transform data using ADF. I was pleased to see some coverage of custom activities.

Unlike most books, there was nothing that I really objected to in how the code was created.

The only criticism that I'd make is that I was hoping for more depth on using ADF, given the title of the book. While it's pleasing to see the breadth of coverage of other topics in the book, with everything from AI services, to machine learning, to logic apps, and functions, I would have liked to have seen more content that directly matched the title of the book.

I use ADF daily and there are so many things I've learned about how to really use it and how to get things done that aren't mentioned. ADF is one of those tools where some days I can't believe how much I've been able to achieve, and other days I want to throw my mouse through the screen.

I would like to have seen more concentration on how to get around things that are frustrating. That would particularly help newcomers.

There are good examples of how to use ADF's expression syntax spread throughout the book. I suspect it's an area that really could warrant a chapter of its own.

Summary

Overall, I really liked the book. I would like to have seen more depth on ADF (to match the book title) at the expense of removing some breadth.

7 out of 10

 

 

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