Atlanta MS BI Group Meeting on April 24th

MS BI fans, join me for the next must-attend Atlanta MS BI and Power BI Group meeting on April 24th at 6:30 PM. Mike Bruce and Alex Higgins from Acuity Brands will share how they use Power BI to improve their development process. Acuity Brands will sponsor the event. And I’ll demo the new Quick Measures Power BI measure.

Presentation: Using Power BI to Track Software Development Performance
Level: Intermediate
Date: April 24, 2017
Time 6:30 – 8:30 PM ET
Place: South Terraces Building (Auditorium Room)

115 Perimeter Center Place

Atlanta, GA 30346

Overview: By using Power BI, Acuity Brands can monitor development teams’ progress with rich, interactive dashboards. Data from Visual Studio Team Services ODATA feeds and APIs as well as pulling data from DocumentDB, teams can drill into their development performance and see where they may be having development performance. Data is accessed via embedded Power BI reports running on dedicated hardware throughout development team spaces as well as accessible via the web using SSO!
Speaker: Mike Bruce has been developing software for the past 22 years focusing on Microsoft products. He is currently runs the DevOps and QA team for Platform Architecture at Acuity Brands.

Alex Higgins recently joined Acuity Brands via the Leadership Program. He has lead the effort to build custom visuals in PowerBI as well as creating embedded reports.

Sponsor: Acuity Brands is the North American market leader and one of the world’s leading providers of lighting solutions for both indoor and outdoor applications. We provide customer-driven smart and simple lighting solutions that offer quality lighting and value-added benefits by empowering world-class talent to create and leverage our industry-leading portfolio of products, technology, and services; drive world-class cost efficiency; and leverage a culture of continuous improvement.

Tabular DAX Editor

The Tabular toolset is getting better. One thing that I miss from Multidimensional is the cube script that lets you view all custom calculations in one place so that you can organize them any way you want, add comments, etc. This is why I contributed to the DAX Editor tool. Microsoft has taken notice and introduced a tool (also called DAX Editor) in the latest SSDT release. Read Kay Unkroth’s announcement here.

The Microsoft DAX Editor supports the old XML-based schema and the new JSON schema. On the upside, it gives you a break from the Measure Grid and the formula bar. On the downside, you can work only on one measure at the time. So, let’s leave it to marinate it a few more months with the hope that we can finally have a Tabular script. As Kay commented at the end of his blog post there is a hope:

Yes, we are hearing this a lot from you guys! Having all expressions in a single document makes it easy to find and replace, search, etc. It’s on the backlog, but not yet on the top of the priorities. Looking at the higher prio work we still need to get done , it’s more mid-termish. But we know how we want to achieve this and we are laying down the foundation with this DAX Editor. Btw. it is much, much more than just an editor window. That is really just the tip of the iceberg. Same with the DAX query window in SSSM. The real beauty (and complexity) is in the DAX parser behind these windows, and a few other features like IntelliSense. It’s coming together. Brick by brick!

Meanwhile, use the community DAX Editor.

Automating Excel to Power BI Publishing

Excel 2016 added a Publish to Power BI menu to let you export or connect Excel workbooks to Power BI. You can read more about this Excel feature here. One area where Excel is still ahead of Power BI Desktop is that is has an object model that lets you automate tasks with VBA. Unfortunately, Power BI Desktop doesn’t have an object model so you have to resort to unsupported ways (aka hacks) to automate tasks, such as refreshing and publishing to Power BI. I discussed some here.

I’ve noticed that Microsoft added not yet documented PublishToPBI method to Excel 2016. With it, refreshing the Excel data model and publishing it to Power BI Service takes two lines of code (you’d need more code to open the Excel workbook from an external application).

Sub Macro1()

ActiveWorkbook.Model.Refresh

ActiveWorkbook.PublishToPBI PublishType:=msoPBIExport, nameConflict:= msoPBIAbort, bstrGroupName:=”<Some Workspace>”

End Sub

Power BI Quick Measures

One of the most common complaints raised by Power BI customers is the DAX steep learning curve. The April release of Power BI Desktop introduces a feature called Quick Measures. Currently in preview (make sure to enable Quick Measures from File ð Options and settings ð Options, Preview features), Quick Measures are supposed to replace Quick Calcs. Besides supporting only a limited number of packaged calculations and not working on top of custom measures, the problem with Quick Calcs is that they don’t show the DAX formulas so there isn’t a way for you to learn from the work Microsoft did or to change the formulas to customize their behavior. This changes with Quick Measures.

You can create a Quick Measure over implicit or explicit measures. To do so, once you add a field to the report, expand the measure drop-down in the Fields of the Visualizations pane, and the click “Quick measures”. Then, select the calculation type. Currently, Power BI Desktop supports about 20 quick measures organized in four categories: Aggregate by category (average, min, max, variance), Filters (filtered value, difference or percentage from filtered value), Time intelligence (YTD, QTD, MTD, and their variances), Running total, Mathematical operations (additions, subtractions, division, multiplication, percentage difference).

040417_0137_PowerBIQuic1.png

For some obscure reason, the YTD quick measure I tried works only with an inline date hierarchy (Power BI Desktop can auto-generate an inline date hierarchy when you add a Date field to the report). But fear not! Once you create the quick measure, it becomes a regular measure and it gets added to the Fields list. Which means that you can change its formula! This is the auto-generated one.

SalesAmount YTD =

IF(

ISFILTERED(‘Date'[Date]),

ERROR(“Time intelligence quick measures can only be grouped or filtered by the Power BI-provided date hierarchy”),

TOTALYTD(SUM(‘ResellerSales'[SalesAmount]), ‘Date'[Date].[Date])

)

And this is how to get it work with any field in your Date table.

SalesAmount YTD = TOTALYTD(SUM(‘ResellerSales'[SalesAmount]), ‘Date'[Date])

Quick Measures are a welcome upgrade of Quick Calcs. They are designed to help you add common calculations and help you learn DAX.

Atlanta MS BI Group Meeting on March 27th

MS BI fans, join me for the next Atlanta MS BI and Power BI Group meeting on Monday, March 27th at 6:30 PM. Dave Tangren and Nelson Davis from Slalom will compare Power BI to Tableau. Slalom will sponsor the event. I’ll show the latest of the Power BI Matrix visual. It will be a great meeting!

Presentation: Comparing Power BI to Tableau
Level: Intermediate
Date: March 27, 2017
Time 6:30 – 8:30 PM ET
Place: South Terraces Building (Auditorium Room)

115 Perimeter Center Place

Atlanta, GA 30346

Overview: Power BI is getting stronger all the time. So is its competition. Want to see how Power BI stacks up against Tableau? Come see our thought leaders from Slalom debate the points!
Speaker: Dave Tangren is a Practice Area Leader for Slalom in Atlanta. Dave brings thought leadership in visual analytics and business discovery to the market. With his deep background in Microsoft technologies, we can bet we know who Dave will be representing in this presentation.

Nelson Davis is passionate about data storytelling, Tableau evangelism, data for good and providing innovative solutions to drive business impact. Nelson helps lead Slalom’s data visualization team in Atlanta, and regularly presents at the Atlanta Tableau User’s Group. Former Tableau Zen Master, multiple time winner of Viz of the Day, and speaker at TCC13, DATA15 and DATA16.

Sponsor: Slalom is a purpose-driven consulting firm that helps companies solve business problems and build for the future. We’re a team of thinkers, makers, and doers that came from enterprises, consultancies, agencies, and startups—all attracted by the promise of loving work and life. Our teams are deeply connected and bring their shared experiences and insights across industries, disciplines, and markets to each and every engagement.
Prototypes with Pizza “The Matrix Reloaded” by Teo Lachev will demo the latest enhancements to the Power BI Matrix visual.

 


“Get the Most Out of Power BI” Seminar on May 3rd

Patrick LeBlanc and I will deliver a free seminar “Get the Most Out of Power BI” on May 3rd, 8:30 AM to 12 PM, at the Microsoft Office in Alpharetta.

You won’t want to miss this educational and engaging event! Please register today as seating is limited at http://prologika.com/event/get-the-most-out-of-power-bi/.

Power BI is about empowering all types of users to get insights from data. It consists of the Power BI Service (powerbi.com), Power BI Desktop, Power BI Mobile, and Power BI Embedded, and it comes in two pricing options: Power BI Free and Power BI Pro. Power BI enjoys a tremendous momentum and industry observers has given it high scores. Packed with a dizzying variety of features, Power BI supports different solutions but it might be difficult to understand which features you need to reduce licensing cost.

Join Prologika and Microsoft for a 3-hour free seminar on Wednesday, May 3rd, 8:30 AM -12 PM ET, at the Microsoft Office in Alpharetta, when Teo Lachev (CEO of Prologika) and Patrick LeBlanc (Data Platform Solutions Architect at Microsoft) share practical knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of Power BI. If you’re planning Power BI rollout in your organization, this event is for you. Join Prologika and Microsoft for a 3-hour free seminar on Wednesday, May 3rd, 8:30 AM -12 PM ET, at the Microsoft Office in Alpharetta, when Teo Lachev (CEO of Prologika) and Patrick LeBlank (Data Platform Solutions Architect at Microsoft) share practical knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of Power BI. If you’re planning Power BI rollout in your organization, this event is for you.

Learn tips and tricks to stay within Power BI Free and reduce cost, including:

  • Simple sharing
  • Content service packs
  • Avoid gateways for refreshing imported data
  • Deploy Power BI reports on-premises
  • Share reports with external users

Power BI customer stories from the frontline

  • Learn how other customers use Power BI
  • Learn top customer issues when adopting Power BI that we have faced
  • Explore different problems and how we have fixed them

Ask questions and get them answered

“7 Ways to Integrate Excel with Power BI” Presentation on April 19th

I’m presenting “7 Ways to Integrate Excel with Power BI” for the Atlanta Modern Excel Group on April 19th at the Microsoft office in Alpharetta. Prologika and Microsoft are sponsoring the event. Please RSVP here.

Power BI is gaining a momentum but Excel still rules the corporate world. Fortunately, Power BI and Excel are not exclusive choices. Join me to learn how you can preserve your Excel investment in Power BI.

I’ll start by explaining the value Power BI brings to different types of users. Then, I’ll discuss and demo seven options for integrating Excel with Power BI:

  • Import Excel files in Power BI Service
  • Build self-service data models from Excel data
  • Deploy Excel models to Power BI
  • Convert Excel models to Power BI
  • Connect to Excel reports
  • Analyze Power BI datasets in Excel
  • Add Excel reports to Power BI dashboards

Editing and Creating Reports in Power BI Embedded

I was doing a Power BI Embedded demo for a customer and lo and behold, being an ever-changing cloud technology, Power BI Embedded surprised me in a great way. When you install and run the Embedded Sample, it adds a nice “Embed and play with current report using Embedded Live Sample” link to the Page Navigation section.

This brings you to the Power BI Embedded live sample with your Power BI Embedded report loaded. You can access the Live Sample from here if you don’t want to configure and install Power BI Embedded sample. In this case, it uses sample reports. Not only does the sample show you Power BI Embedded in action but it also shows you the relevant code.

The surprise is that Power BI Embedded now supports Edit and Create modes!

Similar to Power BI Services, users can now edit existing reports and create their own reports from scratch. For more details of how to do this programmatically, read the documentation.

pbiembedded

SSRS Tabular Query Designer

Analysis Services Tabular has gained a lot of momentum for implementing organizational semantic models but its toolset has been lacking. SSRS developers had to rely previously on the MDX Query Designer to send MDX queries to Tabular. If DAX queries were preferred (and they often are for better performance since DAX is the native Tabular query language), developers had to type in DAX manually. And if the query would take parameters then the ugly workaround was to use … the DMX Query Designer.

As Chris Finlan announced yesterday, this will all change starting with the newly released Report BuilderSSDT 17 (currently in release candidate state), and SSMS 17 (also in RC state), as they now feature a Tabular Query Designer. SSMS also includes DAX Query Editor, as Christian Wade explains here.

If you’re familiar with the MDX Query Designer, you already know how to use the Tabular Query Designer. When you connect to Tabular, the query designer will discover it and default to DAX query mode. The dropdown allows you to switch to MDX should you prefer to send MDX queries to Tabular.

Similar to its MDX counterpart, in most cases you’d still need to know DAX to customize your queries. If you connect to Tabular version 2016 or above, you’d be able to drag and drop metadata to autogenerate the query. I think version 2016 or above is required because the designer relies heavily on the DAX SUMMARIZECOLUMNS function, which was introduced in 2016, when autogenerating queries.

The Design Mode lets you examine the underlying DAX query and customize it as needed. Sorry, no color coding or syntax checking in SSRS, so you’d probably rely on DAX Studio to code and test your queries or the new DAX Query Editor in SSMS which has syntax checking and IntelliSense.  The Calculated Member option is disabled and you’re on your own defining custom DAX measures. No big surprises here is it works exactly in same way as in MDX (of course you need DAX formulas, such as VALUE to convert to a numeric value).

It was about time for the Tabular Query Designer to appear to help us writing DAX when designing traditional SSRS reports connected to Tabular. Watch out for a bug where auto-generated parameter datasets error out when hierarchies are used. I attach two reports. Report.rdl demonstrated an auto-generated DAX query. ReportEx.rdl demonstrates a customized DAX query.

Download Files

Presenting at Birmingham SQL Saturday 2017

I’m presenting “Embed Interactive Reports in Your Apps” at Birmingham SQL Saturday 2017, on March 18th at 1 PM. I’ll discuss different options to embed Power BI reports in internal and external apps.

You have the app. You have the data. What if your app could put the power of analytics everywhere decisions are made and allow your customers to gain insights? Modern apps with data visualizations built-in have the power to inform decisions in context—for any user and on any device. Join me to discover how you can embed data analytics in any app and on one device powered by Power BI Embedded in the cloud and Reporting Services on premises.

I’ll share my experience in helping customers embed Power BI reports. Learn how to:

  • Create compelling interactive reports
  • Embed easily for faster time to value
  • Deploy quickly and manage with ease