Data Warehouse Design: Reading List

I’m often asked how to get started in data warehouse design.  This post outlines my recommended reading list.  You can read these books in any order, but I think the order I list them in is the way to go.

Agile Data Warehouse Design

I love this book.  For me, it was a game changer.  Before reading this book I would have fallen in line with the traditional wisdom and started you off with one of the Kimball books.  I think this book is better.  WAY better.  Lawrence Corr (blog) is a good friend of mine now, and he’s a gifted writer.  Lawrence started his career working with Ralph Kimball and the Kimball group.  He knows this stuff inside out and backward.  This book is great a breaking down exactly WHY a data warehouse is a great tool for your business.  It’s stuffed with valuable templates and tools that can be used to streamline any project from the smallest star schema to the epic enterprise data warehouse.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

A word on the intended audience.  Lawrence wrote this book to help bring together the business and technical groups, so there are parts of the book that will appeal to each group.

The Data Warehouse Toolkit – Third Edition

This is the classic, and probably the first book 9 out of 10 data warehouse pro’s started with.  I do love this book, but I no longer recommend this as the first book you read.  I think this book is a great follow-up to Agile Data Warehouse Design.  It gives you a lot more context on how to use different core concepts in the data warehouse through in-depth scenarios that look at multiple industries.  I think it’s a bit vague in some places, but after reading the first book on this list you’ll have the background to fill in those spots for yourself.  Ralph Kimball is the godfather of the dimensional data warehouse.  This book is more aimed at the technical crowd, but some power users in the business might appreciate the deeper understanding of the star schema that you will take away from even a light reading.

Star Schema – The Complete Reference

This last one is best suited for the tech crowd.  If your goal is mastery of every element of data warehouse design, THIS is the book for you.  You’ll want to read the rest of this list first to give you a good sense of WHY you are building a data warehouse, this last book is all about HOW the data warehouse is built.  You can start with no strong background in dimensional design, by the time you finish you will have a deep understanding of all the most common design issues you can expect to face AND several tested and trusted methods to solve each of them.  Christopher Adamson (blog) is kinda my hero.  This book is exceptionally well written.  He introduces difficult concepts in pieces and offers pragmatic solutions that are easy to understand and implement.  When I see a well read copy of this book on a peer’s bookshelf I know I’m working with a professional.

I hope these books help you get started.  I’d love to hear from you about any books YOU think should be on this list.


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