• Q&A in Power BI Desktop

    January 13, 2018 / No Comments » / 424 Views

    Natural queries (aka Q&A) has been a prominent feature since Power BI Service existed. Wouldn't be nice to do the same in the Power BI Desktop? You can, but make sure to enable first Q&A from File, Options and Settings, Options ("Preview features") tab because it's currently a preview feature. Once you do this and restart Power BI Desktop, you should see "Ask A Question" button in the Home ribbon. Sometimes the fastest way to get an answer from your data is to ask a question using natural language. For example, "what were total sales last year." Use Power BI Q&A on the cloud or desktop to explore your data using intuitive, natural language capabilities and receive answers in the form of charts and graphs. As of this time, Q&A requires data to be imported. It doesn't work with DirectQuery connections. There are two ways to activate Q&A in Power...

  • SSRS Multivalue Parameters in DAX

    January 11, 2018 / No Comments » / 2216 Views

    Déjà vu today with a twist. SSRS multivalue parameters in SSAS reports but this time in DAX. Now that SSAS Designer supports DAX queries, we should be able to do everything we were able to do in MDX, right? Unfortunately, as you will quickly discover, Microsoft "forgot" about multivalue parameters when working on the DAX Designer. You can use MDX (no shame there) and write queries the old way, but if you are a DAX purist, you'd need to take the road less traveled which goes through the DAX rabbit hole. Here are the high-level steps in the SSDT Report Designer/Report Builder and I tried my best to simplify this as much as I can: Do as much drag and drop using the DAX Graphical Query Designer to auto-generate the DAX query, as you won't have another chance once you switch to a text mode. You can also use the...

  • Power BI Writeback

    January 7, 2018 / No Comments » / 2698 Views

    One of the Power BI most prominent strengths is that it's a part of the much broader Microsoft Data Platform that spans various on-premises and cloud offerings for data storage, processing, and analysis. After the integration with Visio, Power BI just took another leap forward with the introduction of the PowerApps custom visual. Use this visual to bridge the Data Analytics and Developer worlds. Now your Power BI apps can integrate with Line of Business (LOB) applications in versatile ways. Suppose you have a Power BI report that shows sales by customers. As the user browses the data, he realizes that some changes need to be made. Granted, the user can open the appropriate business app and make the changes there, and then go back to the report to see the changes. But read-only reports and are so 20th century. Instead, why can't we allow the user to make the...

  • Applied Power BI Book (3rd Edition)

    December 31, 2017 / No Comments » / 3996 Views

    I'm excited to announce the third edition of my Applied Microsoft Power BI book! When the original book was published  in January 2016, it was the first Power BI book at that time. Since then, I helped many companies adopt or transition to Power BI, and taught hundreds of students. It's been a great experience to witness the momentum surrounding Power BI. The third revision added more than 20% new content (the book is now 426 pages) and probably that much content was rewritten to keep the book up with the ever-changing world of Power BI. Because I had to draw a line somewhere, Applied Microsoft Power BI (3nd edition) covers all features that were that were released by early December 2017. As with my previous books, I'm committed to help my readers with book-related questions and welcome all feedback on the book discussion forum on the book page. While...

  • Field Description Support in Power BI Desktop

    December 11, 2017 / No Comments » / 4998 Views

    I'm a big fan of self-documented semantic models. Business users have a hard time getting their way around complex models and descriptions can go a long explaining the purpose of metadata. After waiting for years for Excel to support field descriptions (the wait is still on), the December update of Power BI Desktop now supports them. The new Field Properties window lets you enter descriptions for self-service data models. When connecting to Analysis Services, descriptions just light up on hover. A true Christmas gift! And Q&A in Power BI Desktop makes it ever better.

  • Power BI vs. Tableau (Part 3)

    November 10, 2017 / No Comments » / 9996 Views

    Feeling the heat, Tableau has come up with an updated Power BI vs. Tableau battle card as one of my clients pointed out. This time designed as a video. I guess the previous "10 Ways Power BI Falls Short" slide deck, which I discussed in the part 1 and part 2 of my "Power BI vs. Tableau" blog , wasn't effective enough. I concur given the large number of customers abandoning the tool. Tableau is desperately trying to breathe new life into their aging software by a series of acquisitions to stay competitive but they're now fighting an uphill battle. And their marketing materials should have a timestamp because Power BI improves every month and points get outdated quickly (see the first part 1 of my blog). But let's take a look at the latest battle card so we are better positioned to answer the question asked by Tableau "Which one...

  • Hey Cortana, where is Power BI data?

    November 6, 2017 / No Comments » / 12546 Views

    A Power BI presentation is rarely complete if someone doesn't ask me to demonstrate the Cortana integration. However, unlike everything else in Power BI that gains features in time, in my opinion the Cortana experience has lost some value. Previously, you could ask natural questions in Cortana across datasets, just like you can use the Power BI Service Q&A to gain insights from dashboards. Unfortunately, Microsoft has removed this feature in favor of searching for report pages that are specifically optimized for Cortana (also known as Cortana answer cards). You can also search dashboards and reports by name but that won't get you the "vow" effect since 1) you need to know the name and 2) when you click the name Cortana opens Power BI in a separate browser window. So much about natural queries and machine learning. I think the change took place after Microsoft decided to move away...

  • Power BI Service in Get Data

    November 5, 2017 / 1 Comment » / 2337 Views

    Scenario: You have published a Power BI Desktop file with a report to Power BI Service. You want to give certain users access to some pages in the report. This is not a security mechanism although it could be, if you want to control security at the report layer. Solution: When a customer asked about this scenario, my first thought was to create reports directly in Power BI Service. For example, the report that's included in the Power BI Desktop file could have some visuals that you might want to share with everyone. Then, you create additional reports for each group of users and share them via dashboard sharing. This approach will work but if someone nukes the dataset, your reports go down with it. True, you can export a report connected to a dataset created in Power BI Desktop but who bothers to back up reports on a regular basis?...

  • Power BI DirectQuery with Parameterized Stored Procedure

    October 31, 2017 / No Comments » / 1501 Views

    Issue: You have a parameterized SQL Stored procedure that you want to call in DirectQuery mode. You attempt to use "exec sp parameter" syntax in the Power BI Desktop which works in the Query Editor but it fails to execute due to syntax error when you apply changes. Workaround: Power BI uses the "select * from exec sp" syntax which doesn't work. However, if you switch to OpenRowset (you'd need to enable ad hoc distribution queries on the database first), it will work. Other possible workarounds that would probably work is inserting the stored procedure results into a temp table and then select from the table, or wrapping the stored procedure with user-defined table function. I attach a sample that demonstrates the OpenRowset approach. Download the Stored Procedure Direct Query.zip file (link provided at the end of this post) and rename the from *.zip to *.pbix. Here is the query...

  • Understanding Dates in Power BI Quick Measures

    October 22, 2017 / No Comments » / 2433 Views

    As I explained here, Power BI introduced the highly anticipated Quick Measures feature to avoid writing DAX formula for common measures. The feature is still in preview, so make sure you enable it in Power BI Desktop from File, Options and Settings, Options, Preview Features. Many quick measures, such as time intelligence calculations (YTD, QTD, Period Over Period Change, etc.), rely on a date field. The date field could come from a Power BI-provided date hierarchy or a Date table. Letting Power BI auto-generate date hierarchies is easy but dangerous and limiting. As Chris Webb explains here, Power BI-provided hierarchies could bloat the size of the data model. For example, by disabling them in data in a data model provided by a customer, I was able to reduce the data model size from 300 MB to 30 MB! Instead, a best practice is to have a Date table. It gives...

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