As you may already know, Ken Puls and myself wrote a book called ‘M is for Data Monkey’ almost 3 years ago and we’ve been working thoroughly on the 2nd edition of that to keep the content up to date and relevant.
We’ve got some news to share with you guys about the development of this book and when it’ll arrive to your favorite book store. Before we get into the this, we would like to cover some aspects as to why it has taken us so far to release this book.
The reality of publishing a Power BI book
Over the last 4 years, Power BI has changed quite a bit not only from the branding standpoint, but also on the features that it has and the features that have been deprecated or replaced (like Combine Binaries for Combine Files).
This brings a challenge to anyone trying to write a book about Power BI or, to be more specific, a book about Power Query since it’s the most UI-centric tool of the Power BI family.
Every single year the team behind Power Query releases around 70 new improvements or features. Some of them might not be as visible as others (like bug fixes and performance improvements), but others do get a lot of visibility like new buttons on the UI, new features, new connectors and new functions.
This means that there’s a high chance that 6 months after your book gets released, that it’ll end up being completely outdated. Therefore timing is incredibly important when it comes to writing and releasing a book related to Power BI and, more importantly, Power Query.
This leads the authors of the book to make some hard decisions. Specifically, we need to make a decision on whether an upcoming feature make be such a major feature or change that we should wait until it’s at least in preview in order to release the book. Other minor changes (bug fixes, label changes or small button layouts) wouldn’t have a big impact on the overall content of the book, so we could move forward with releasing the book – it’s all about the BIG / MAJOR changes that could potentially ruin the experience of the reader since they won’t be able to follow along.
As Ken points out
No matter which way we go, we’ll always wish we waited for the next great feature. And we can’t. We know that. But our goal is to make sure that the material inside the book stands the test of time well and continues to hold relevance as features are added and changed. We believe that we’ve managed to do that with M is for Data Monkey fairly well, all things considered. Are there easier ways to do some things today? Yes. But does the book give you a deeper understanding and still let you accomplish the same goals? We believe it does.
We’ve learned A LOT from our first publication together and we now know how to handle things much better when it comes to not only writing the book, but explaining the content and also be on the know of what’s coming soon.
The reasons why Power Query books get delayed
There are 2 main points as to why books about Power Query get delayed:
- UI Changes
- New Features
Each change has to go through a revision from the authors who need to make the decision if either the change is just a minor change or if it’s a BIG change.
Fear not. We’ve been working on the book – but earlier this year we decided to wait for the latest iteration of Excel (Excel 2019) to arrive so we could make the appropriate decision as to whether we were going to get new features or not and…boy did we get a surprise at this year’s Microsoft Business Applications Summit.
We made the right choice by not sending our book to print before going to the Microsoft Business Applications Summit, otherwise our book would’ve been completely outdated on screenshots and even features on the day of its release which is completely unacceptable.
The changes and new features that we saw at the Microsoft Business Applications Summit are huge and they’re targeted to be released this year.
Releasing a book prior to these changes at the very least hitting the preview phase would be completely irresponsible from our side and this goes against our ethics and values. Our mission is to deliver you not only great content, but content that will remain relevant for a much longer period of time than just 2-3 months.
What are the features and changes coming to Power Query this year?
You can read a few of the things coming later this year (that are actually confirmed to hit PBI Desktop this year) from this official Microsoft link, but you can imagine that there are a lot of other unconfirmed features and changes that might happen.
I’m going to leave these screenshots so you can get a feel of what’s coming:
Data Profiling (similar to what Tableau Prep and Trifacta Wrangler currently do)
Syntax highlighting and intellisense
Just by themselves, these 2 images would have a HUGE impact on the screenshots of the book and the way that we USE the tool itself.
There are other improvements coming like Fuzzy lookup that was showcased on this video by Miguel Llopis.
If you’ve read my comparison between Tableau Prep vs Trifacta Wrangler vs Power Query, you’ll notice what are the changes coming and how they’ll impact the way that we use the tool. If you haven’t read that comparison, click on the button below to read it.
What is the revised timeline for the 2nd edition of the book?
We are hoping to have the book in print by the end of Q1 2019. It’s pretty aggressive on our side, but that is our refined target. If the builds ship later, or things take longer then anticipated, it could slide it in to Q2.
Trust me. We know how long you’ve been waiting and you can’t imagine how frustrating it is to start working on something for months only to start all over again because things changed.
Not only will the screenshots change, but our whole Table of Contents might change as well since some scenarios will be tackled in a completely different manner thanks to these improvements – we won’t need to take a deep dive into what I like to call “The MacGyver ways” where we basically try to go deep into M code or we try to “hack” Power Query somehow into doing what we want it to do. There’ll be a simple button that does that for us in the most optimal manner.
We still have something for you!
We understand that the wait might not be over yet, but we still want to offer you something this year. That’s why we’ve created a new product under the PowerQuery.Training umbrella in a easy to read format.
These are reference cards or patterns that we commonly use to solve scenarios with Power Query.
Naturally, all members of our Power Query Academy will get a free copy of these. And due to the significant delay of the book, we’d also like to offer a free copy to anyone who has pre-ordered Master Your Data on Amazon. (More on this below.)
So, why can we do these, but not the book? It’s because they assume you already know Power Query’s user interface, so provide the steps on how to accomplish the goal. Loaded with before and after pictures, and the route to get from one to the other, we aren’t bound by user interface design changes.
Here’s a quick sample of one of the cards:
How will these be sold?
Ultimately, we plan on selling this product on a subscription basis through our web store as follows:
- $14.99 for the purchase of the downloadable card set
- $2.99/quarter for a subscription to updates
We already have 26 cards designed, with more on the way. As we expand the set, the original purchase will include the new cards. But for those on subscription, we will update your original purchase and give you access to the new cards when we release them. We’re not intending to hold these for quarterly release, but rather send a new one every time we build it. You might get five in one quarter and one in the next, but our intention is to keep delivering new patterns as we discover them and build summary tips cards to illustrate them.
How can I get my hands on the Master Your Data Recipe Card set?
There are a few ways…
For those of you who are members of the Power Query Academy, the tip cards will be added as a resource as soon as we have them ready. It’s part of your subscription so, as long as you’re still an Academy member, you’ll get all the new ones we create. In addition, we will also make sure you get a copy of Master Your Data as soon as it is released (even if you’re no longer a member.)
For those of you who have pre-ordered our new book on Amazon, please follow the blog. We will post when they are ready and will let you know what you need to do to get your free download of the initial package of cards. The subscription for updates will be available as well but will be entirely optional.
And if you’ve just been waiting for the book and haven’t purchased yet, all good. We’ll be setting these up in an online store to allow you to buy the download version and (optionally) sign up for the updates as well.
When will the Master Your Data Recipe Card set be available?
Soon. We are in final design for the card set now and need to set up our web store to handle subscriptions. Our target is to have that all done by Sep 15, if not earlier. Keep watch here for the official announcement.
…we wish we could send the Master Your Data book to you today but hope that this will make a reasonable substitute to get you over the hump until we can. Thank you for your patience, understanding and trust in us as we work to deliver you the best version we possibly
Excel specialist turned into BI specialist using the latest tools from Microsoft for BI – Power BI. He is the co-author of ‘M is for Data Monkey’, blogger and also Youtuber of powerful Excel video Tricks.
He has been recognized as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), is a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP – MCSA: BI Reporting), a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), and is one of the international pioneers in Power Pivot, Power Query and Power BI.