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Analysis Services Performance Guide in Final Draft

To the Analysis Services crowd out there: Last week I finished the last section of the Analysis Services 2008R2 Performance Guide. Furthermore, I reviewed my co-author Denny Lee’s sections. Denny is currently polishing off a few minor details and we expect to send the draft to our editor early the coming week. I would like the take the opportunity to give you some background on what happens to a whitepaper before you can read it on MSDN.

But before I describe the Microsoft process, I would like to acknowledge the big contributions made by the reviewers. We have had reviews from MVP, SSAS Maestros, partners, independent consultants and customers. Thank you everyone, without you this document would not have been as detailed and accurate. Your critical reviews helped us preserve clarity.

The Microsoft publishing process has a lot of checks and balances in place – which all aim to increase quality. The Analysis Services team has already reviewed the paper. Akshai Mirchandani, Ashvini Sharma and Edward Melomed are particular thorough reviewers and contributors, and there are always great arguments on our internal mailing lists about the exact way to state a point. Sometimes, we even go to the source code to validate a specific behavior and description.

The next thing to happen to the Performance Guide is that our editor (Beth Ingram) will go over the 100+ page document. She will check for both spelling errors, semantic clarity and style. For example, I aim to write the real English, as spoken by the Queen, Denny writes US English from the breakout colony – Beth will make it all US and correct my spelling errors and figures of speech (which I of course will claim are all correct).

Beth will also check for things that may offend or come across as politically incorrect – as you can infer from my blog, she has saved me more than once. Apart from the Forbidden Word List™, Microsoft also has style guides that restrict the language constructs you can use. This creates consistency in publications and also aids auto translators like Google Translate. The style guides also increase the likelihood that HTML and PDF rendering of the document is successful and neat. A lot of responsibility rests on the shoulder of our editor to validate conformity with the style guide  – and the primary purpose is to improve your reading experience.

When Beth has gone over the draft, we will typically have one or two iterations where the authors (Denny and yours truly) make sure that the edits have not change the intended semantics of our sentences, or where we discover that Beth’s edit was what we ACTUALLY meant. We will have the occasional stylistic argument – within the constraints of the Microsoft publishing guidelines.

If Beth does her job well, which she consistently does, your will think that both Denny and I have paid a great deal of attention to these details – and we end up with all the credit. This is therefore my my chance to give credit where it is due: to Beth. And now you know why there is often a delay in large publications like these: It is so Beth can work her magic and make the document look really well polished.

At the end of all the editorial process, a web portal (in Sharepoint) request is made for MSDN to publish the article. Two persons (not the authors) have to sign off that it is OK to push the material to the web. Once those signatures (electronic of course) are in place – the CAT team is free to announce it and you will start seeing the news on Twitter, Facebook, our blogs and other social media.

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