Introducing IQReference

,

An Introduction to IQReference

IQReference is a product that provides an online reference service using the actual

books that you or I might buy at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, or wherever you get your

technical reference material. Let me first disclose that this product is being sold by

my current company, IQdestination. My company specializes in managing the

educational requirements of corporations, primarily through elearning, but also

with the integration of a learning management platform. I am in general

skeptical on most training methods in general, preferring to read and learn on the job,

however, I did like the IQReference product and think this one is really worth the $$.

You can try it for yourself by signing up for a free 7 day trial

at www.iqdestination.com.

Some of the content is XXX'd out for the trial, but you will get a feel for the experience.

If you are interested in a corporate subscription or discount, contact

Gary Fuller for more information.

The Product

IQreference is bascially a series of online books. Not too exciting, you say? It

gets better. This product presents you with the online version of the book, not as

PDF, or as an image, but as straight HTML with jpgs and gifs for the images. This

alone makes a number of points with me. First, the pages

read easier as HTML and second, when I cut and paste code, I don't have to

reformat it (try that with a pdf).

The product keeps getting better from there. Here are some of the great features

of this product:

My Bookshelf

IQReference has a large number of books. While finding a particular book is easy, I

would hate having to duplicate my clicks every day. Fortunately, this product has

implemented the concept of My Bookshelf, an area where I can add the books I normally

use. Once I have browsed a book, I can add it to My Bookshelf with a click and then

easily find the book on my next login. Part of my current bookshelf is shown below:

As you see, the image of the book, the author, and publisher are displayed along

with a link to remove the book at any time. Clicking on a book will bring up the

table of contents so I can skip to any section or read the book page by page.

Searching

You can search the books in a few ways. First, you can search within a book. If

I am reading Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Administrator's Companion, I can search

for "DBCC" within this book using the left frame of the product. The graphic below

shows my results for this search.

Notice that the hits in each chapter are outlined along with a graphic that shows

the relevancy. I am not sure how the relevancy works, but it at least shows me

where the search word is in each book. One other feature that I find alternately annoying

and pleasing is the highlighting of each word in the text. While it is nice to see "dbcc"

highlighted on a page where it is mentioned only once or twice, it is annoying to see

it highlighted on every other line when it appears too often.

I can also search all the books in my bookshelf, or even within the entire library.

A search on "sql clustering" turned up the following results for the entire library.

Notice that there were actually 10 books that turned up in this search. This

allows me to quickly flip through the hits from each book and find the information

that I need. The "Back" button stil works, so I can navigate as easily as I can

through the web.

Bookmarks

One nice feature is the ability to create bookmarks within books. Suppose I liked a

certain passage in SQL: The Complete Reference, I can click the "Create Bookmark"

link at the top and I get a page like this one:

I can rename the bookmark and add notes. I can then decide whether to make this my

personal note or share it with collegues. I have limited the view of the page, but

scrolling down displays a list of the employees in my company along with a checkbox next

to each for me to share the bookmark with selected others. There is also the option

to notify others through email of the new bookmark. Once I create the bookmark, it

appears in My Bookshelf below the title of the book.

Sharing

If you purchase this product as part of a company, then all the employees can

be linked together. This allows a series of developers or DBAs to share bookmarks

and comments on the books. It is nice to see this integrated into the product, rather

than requiring you to share notes through email.

The Content

A complete list of the over 300 books is available on the site. In September,

there will be an additional 100 books added, though I do not know at this time

which topics will be added. Most likely these will fill out the Novell, Lotus

and other categories that are a little light.

Here are some of the favorites for me in the technology library:

Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Administrator's by Marci Frohock Garcia, Jamie Reding, Edward Whalen and Steve Adrien DeLuca
XML Web Documents from Scratch by Jesse Liberty and Mike Kraley
Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 Performance Tuning Technical Reference by Steve Adrian DeLuca et al.
Writing Stored Procedures for Microsoft SQL Server: The Authoritative Solution by Matthew Shepker
Microsoft SQL Server 7.0 Unleashed by Sharon Bjeletich, Greg Mable et al.
SQL: The Complete Reference by James R. Groff and Paul N. Weinberg
Microsoft SQL Server 7 DBA Survival Guide by Mark Spenik, Orryn Sledge et al.
Data Modeling with ERwin: The Authoritative Solution by M. Carla DeAngelis
Active Server Pages 2.0 Unleashed by Stephen Walther, et al.
ASP 3 Fast & Easy Web Development by Michael D. Thomasson
Programming ADO by David Sceppa
Visual Basic Developer's Guide to COM and COM+ by Wayne Freeze
MCSE Windows 2000 Network Infrastructure Administration Study Guide: Exam 70-216 by Paul Robichaux
Firewalls: A Complete Guide by Marcus Goncalves
A Programmer's Introduction to C# by Eric Gunnerson
The E-Factor: Building a 24/7, Customer Centric, Electronic Business for the Internet Age by Martin T. Focazio

Conclusions

One of the nice things about using books as reference, IMHO, is that there is

some quality control and some focus. Sometimes this isn't true, but for most books it

is. This is because multiple people review the product before it is released (copy editor,

technical editor(s), plus the author) . Using resources on the Internet works, but often I

have to wade through lots of information to find what I want. One of the sales techniques

my company uses is to have a manager search IQReference for information about a topic

and have his IT people search the Internet using Yahoo, Google, or any other search

portal for the same information. IQReference usually works much better than any

other technique.

The books that are chosen are from a wide range of publishers and subjects, but

there is a good concentration of Microsoft products. Currently (as of August 15, 2001)

there are about 300 books in the technical library. This number will grow to 400 in

September and then increase by 10 books every month for the next year. The books that

will be added are based on feedback, so if you purchase this product and

want to see some specific books, please send in your suggestions.

If you are like me, you probably buy at least 4 or 5 books a year. At an average

price of $50, this is a couple hundred dollars a year. And after a year or so, I rarely

use any of my old books. For this price, you can get access to a much larger number of

books on a wider range of subjects. It allows you to investigate or work with

different technologies (like .NET) using published, edited works.

Visit the SQL Server Central branded site at

SQL Server

Central IQReference and sign up for a free 7 day trial. I think once you

investigate this product, you will agree this is a worthwhile addition to your own

personal library.

IQReference

from IQDestination

90 day subscription - $199 (Technology Library)

1 yr subscription - $299 (Technology Library)

Corporate or volumn discounts available

Contact:Gary Fuller

Steve Jones

©dkRanch.net August 2001


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