Azure Data Factory by Example – A Review of My Technical Review

On 2nd June 2020 Apress reached out to me about the role of technical reviewer on a book about Azure Data Factory. The exact conversation may amuse you, so I’ve included it exactly as it happened 🙂


I know writing is out of the question, but do you have bandwidth to tech review a book? We’ve an author starting a book on Azure Data Factory, and I’m looking for a tech reviewer to read and comment on the draft chapters.

Hi Jonathan
Sounds interesting. Tell me more.

There’s not a lot more to tell. The author is Richard Swinbank, and we’re looking at 300 pages and 12 chapters. He’s just beginning to write.
We can pay a small amount. I can offer USD 1.00 per page. That’s just a token amount, really.

Hi Jonathan
I know Richard very well. I’m wondering, is there a better way I can contribute here? $1 per page doesn’t really motivate me. But a higher form of credit in the book would. Is there such a thing??
Either way, as it’s for Richard I’m onboard.
Cheers Paul.

Paul, we do give you credit in the book as the technical reviewer. There’s a bio page and you can include your photo if you like. That’s a page inside the book. There’s no cover credit. The tech reviewer bio page comes right after the author bio page. It’s part of the front matter.
If you’re on board just respond back to confirm and I’ll get you introduced to the project manager.

Hi Jonathan
I can confirm that I’d like to be a technical reviewer for this book.

… and that was it. Done. Just six short emails and we were off.

Nearly 🙂

The Work

What you may also be interested to know is that the above emails probably represent about 80% of all the communication I received from Apress during the creation of the book! Very poor comms for those that don’t formally have a contract for the process, just a few emails. Fortunately I had Richard’s phone number, which meant we could accelerate the entire process.

Given this lack of engagement from Apress I think its fair to say that part of the books success therefore came down to the great working relationship that Richard and I have developed over the last 9 years, having first met professionally back in October 2012. Since then;

  • We worked together building a data warehouse platform for the Staffordshire & Shropshire NHS Informatics Service.
  • Richard introduced me to the great data platform community, via the Midlands SQL Server User Group, as it was known at the time.
  • Whenever I need a T-SQL print big stored procedure I visit Richard’s blog.
  • We built a PoC IoT solution together with Raspberry Pi’s and low energy Bluetooth devices to track Roller Derby players.
  • Richard joined for “stag party” things to celebrate the end of my life as a single man.
  • We’ve exchanged ideas on blogs.
  • We’ve collaborated on opensource code projects.
  • I nominated Richard as a Microsoft MVP.
  • We are both involved in organising the Data Relay conference.
  • We both like beer, a common denominator!

The above meant that working together on another project (the book) was very easy for us to pick up and run with, even during the 2020 lockdown.

To that end, Richard threw himself into the writing and I equally threw myself into the reading/building of a new Azure Data Factory, lend by Dr. Swinbanks examples.

We had almost weekly catch up meetings to go through the chapters, page by page. Row by row! 😉

We did this, while battling the ever changing Microsoft resource offerings and layout of the Data Factory UI.

In general, the experience of reviewing the great content authored by Richard was really enjoyable and often resulted in late night exchanges of messages to clarify technical points as well as lengthy debates on how the cloud orchestration tool might be perceived by the books target audience.

Best Bits

I’m going to say chapter 6 is my favourite, mainly because we felt the need to argue about the title of the chapter a lot… Originally called ‘Flow of Control’, which I said should just be ‘Control Flow’, then, as you’ll see we compromised on ‘Controlling Flow’ as a smooth alternative from the wordsmith.

Maybe chapter 8 takes second place, again for the great amount of argument generated when trying to explain the role of an integration runtime within Azure Data Factory. Something that continues to evolve to this day.


Reviewing the book created by Richard was great fun and of course based on one of my favourite subjects. If you have a similar relationship with an author, I would encourage you to become a technical reviewer as well.

A visitor in my home office.


I’m very humbled to read this in the book acknowledgements and didn’t expect it…

I want to thank technical reviewer, Paul Andrew, for innumerable conversations which have made the book many times better than it could otherwise have been. Paul is a real expert in this technology, and I’m very fortunate to have benefited from his advice.

Smug face.

Amazon Details



5 thoughts on “Azure Data Factory by Example – A Review of My Technical Review

  1. I ordered my copy soon after it was published. I love it so far and I’m sure I’ll read and re-read it until it’s all dog-eared. I’m glad I got a kindle copy so I always carry it with me.


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