Power BI Desktop Or Power Pivot

Bill Anton discusses when to use Power BI Desktop and when to use Power Pivot:

In the whitepaper, Strategic Prototyping is defined as the process of leveraging Power BI to explicitly seek out feedback from users during a requirements discovery session. The general idea is to use a prototyping tool to quickly slap together a model and mock up some reports while working closely with 1 or more business users. This helps ensure all reporting capabilities are flushed out and accounted for. After several iterations, the Power BI model becomes the blueprint upon which an enterprise solution can be based.

Prior to the emergence of Power BI, the tool of choice for strategic prototyping (at least in Microsoft shops) was Power Pivot. And even though the reporting side of Power Pivot is nowhere near as sexy as Power BI, there is one really awesome feature that does not (yet?) exist with Power BI… and that’s the “Import from PowerPivot” option in visual studio…

Bill does a good job of explaining the alternatives and, importantly, explaining that whichever you pick, there will be follow-up work.

Power BI Takeover

Devin Knight has a Q&A on Power BI:

Q: what is the difference between the Query editor and Data Modeler? What can and can’t do in each case ?

To summarize the Query Editor is mainly for Data Extraction actions.  So providing source information, applying rules to the incoming data, etc… The Data Modeling areas are focused on creating relationships between tables you’ve important and creating calculations you might need in your report.  This of this as the last step to prepare you data for reports.

Check out Devin’s webinar as well.  It’s a lot longer than a coffee break, but worth your time.

Custom Power BI Visuals

Rob Farley looks into custom Power BI visuals:

I hadn’t explored much in the way of custom visuals in Power BI until a while back, even though I was very much aware of the competition that was held in September. It had been on my list to explore some of what was possible. And this month, the T-SQL Tuesday topic (hosted by Wendy Pastrick@wendy_dance) was to learn something new and to blog about it. So it seemed a good idea to learn how to make my own custom visualisation!

Now, creativity isn’t exactly my thing. I find it really hard to write songs, for example. I know how to do it – but I quickly become self-critical and get stuck. Writing is easier, because it feels less ‘creative’, and appeals more to the teacher / preacher in me (and I know that takes creativity, especially if you’ve ever seen me present, but it’s different). So sitting down and coming up with a new way of visualising data wasn’t something I was going to do.

For more info, check out more info on creating visuals and using R to visualize data in Power BI.

Trending And Smoothing

Matt Allington looks at trending and smoothing data in Power BI:

You can download the workbook here if you want to take a look, or simply look at the embedded version I have pinned at the bottom of the post.

Notice the spikes in sales in different months in the chart above?  These spikes are very common in sales data, and in my experience they can be even more prevalent in weekly sales data.  These spikes make it difficult to analyse trends in the data.  You could put a trend line into the chart (thanks to the April update do Power BI), but a standard linear trend line is too simplistic to really see what is happening in your data, particularly if there are seasonal changes.

One good way to look at the trends in your data is to add an Average Monthly Sales Rolling Quarter trend line to the chart.  You simply take the total sales of the last 3 months and then divide by 3.  If you were doing a weekly trend, take the last 13 weeks and divide by 13.  When you overlay this Avg Monthly Sales RQ line on the original chart, it looks like this.

This is a fairly advanced topic, but it’s also the kind of thing which separates good reporting from great reporting.

The Code Behind Power BI Parameters

Chris Webb shows us how to get to the M code used in query parameters:

From this you can see that the value returned by the parameter query is just a single piece of text – it’s the value “Monday” that is set as the Current Value, that’s to say the value returned by the parameter itself. The interesting stuff is all in the metadata record associated with the value. I blogged about metadata here, so you may want to read that post before going any further; it’s pretty clear that the fields in the metadata record correspond to the values set in the UI. All of the fields in the metadata record can be edited in the Advanced Editor if you want.

When the parameter is used in another query it is referenced like any other query value. For example, if you load the DimDate table from the Adventure Works DW sample database and use the parameter above to filter the EnglishDayNameOfWeek column then the code generated in the UI looks like this:

I’m sure that by next month, there will be a half-dozen new things added to this alone, given how fast the Power BI team can push features…

Using Flow + Power BI For Reporting

John White combines Microsoft Flow with Power BI to generate real-time reports:

I may blog about that solution in the future, but with the Future of SharePoint event rapidly coming up, my BI Focal fellow collaborator, Jason Himmelstein convinced me that there was something more interesting that we could do with this. How about near real time monitoring of Twitter conversations for the event? All of the pieces were in place.

We rolled up our sleeves, and in relatively short order, had a solution. Jason has written about the experience on his SharePoint Longhorn blog, and he has included the videos that we put together, so I can be a little less detailed in this post.

Today I learned about Microsoft Flow.  Looks a lot like Zapier.

Power BI With Mapping

Dustin Ryan shows how to use the Bing Maps API in Power BI visualizations:

The good news is that Power Query in Power BI is flexible enough for us to take advantage of the Bing Maps API so that we can lookup the missing pieces of information we need. In this blog post, I’m going to show you how you can use the Bing Maps API to look up an address based on a latitude and longitude or use a street address to find a latitude and longitude for the location.

I love how map visualizations nowadays are so easy.

Power BI Updates

Julie Smith points out new Power BI updates and she is excited about them:

Today, Microsoft announced the April Power BI Desktop updates and they include something I and my colleagues at Innovative Architects have been long awaiting: formatting for table reports!

While it was understandable that initially Power BI wanted to focus on visualizations first and foremost, the display for pure tabular data in Power BI was lackluster. There was no control over any of the following:

  1. Font size

  2. Colors –of any element in a table, font, background color, title, totals. Nada

  3. Borders

I am simultaneously impressed that the Power BI team can so consistently push out crazy numbers of updates and glad that I don’t personally need to keep up on all of the changes…

Row-Level Security With Power BI

Koen Verbeeck discusses dynamic, row-level security using Power BI:

Apparently, in PBI the domain is used, not the email. Good to know if row level security is implemented in PBI someday (note: currently it’s only available in the Power BI Service).

OK, now let’s upload this report to the Power BI Service so we can implement the RLS. When the report is opened, it seems  that my carefully crafted measures are ignored. Maybe Power BI ignores the USERNAME() function as long as there is no RLS defined.

I like the fact that you can test by role, making it a lot easier to see what others would see under those circumstances and finding bugs with security implementation.  If you have any non-public information and you use Power BI, this is a must-read.

Power BI: Dynamic Chart Titles

Chris Webb shows how to generate dynamic chart titles using Power BI:

But what about if you want the chart title to change depending on what is selected? For example, you might be using slicers or filters to allow a user to choose which days of the week they want to see data for. In that situation you might want to add a title that shows which days of the week have actually been selected; this would be particularly important if the report uses filters, or if the report is going to be printed. Unfortunately the built in Title Text property can’t be used to display dynamic values but in this blog post I’ll show you how to solve this problem using DAX.

The solution isn’t trivial, but it is cool.


July 2017
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