Examples Of Charts In Different Languages

David Smith points out a great repository of information on generating different types of charts in different libraries:

The visualization tools include applications like Excel, Power BI and Tableau; languages and libraries including R, Stata, and Python’s matplotlib); and frameworks like D3. The data visualizations range from the standard to the esoteric, and follow the taxonomy of the book Data Visualisation (also by Andy Kirk). The chart categories are color coded by row: categorical (including bar charts, dot plots); hierarchical (donut charts, treemaps); relational (scatterplots, sankey diagrams); temporal (line charts, stream graphs) and spatial (choropleths, cartograms).

Check out the Chartmaker Directory.

Using MLFlow For Binary Classification In Keras

Jules Damji walks us through classifying movie reviews as positive or negative reviews, building a neural network via Keras on MLFlow along the way:

François’s code example employs this Keras network architectural choice for binary classification. It comprises of three Dense layers: one hidden layer (16 units), one input layer (16 units), and one output layer (1 unit), as show in the diagram. “A hidden unit is a dimension in the representation space of the layer,” Chollet writes, where 16 is adequate for this problem space; for complex problems, like image classification, we can always bump up the units or add hidden layers to experiment and observe its effect on accuracy and loss metrics (which we shall do in the experiments below).

While the input and hidden layers use relu as an activation function, the final output layer uses sigmoid, to squash its results into probabilities between [0, 1]. Anything closer to 1 suggests positive, while something below 0.5 can indicate negative.

With this recommended baseline architecture, we train our base model and log all the parameters, metrics, and artifacts. This snippet code, from module models_nn.py, creates a stack of dense layers as depicted in the diagram above.

The overall accuracy is pretty good—I ran through a sample of 2K reviews from the set with Naive Bayes last night for a presentation and got 81% accuracy, so the neural network getting 93% isn’t too surprising.  Seeing the confusion matrix in this demo would have been a nice addition.

Power BI Versus Power BI Report Server

Lars Bouwens contrasts the normal Power BI service with Power BI Report Server:

The differences between Power BI Service and Power BI Report Server are well documented in the Planning a Power BI Enterprise Deployment whitepaper and the online documentation. The whitepaper by Chris Webb and Melissa Coates also includes a comparison between Power BI Service and Power BI Report Server (Jun 2017 version). Because this is a lot of information, I’ve summarized the most important topics.

Power BI Report Server – two options
Power BI Report Server is the Power BI on-premises alternative to the cloud-based Power BI Service. There are two ways of acquiring Power BI Report Server: 1) Purchase a Power BI Premium Subscription or 2) by making use of your SQL Server Enterprise Software Assurance license.

I use Power BI Report Server.  It’s not perfect, but it does what I need it to do and it doesn’t cost the company anything extra (due to Enterprise Edition + Software Assurance).

Building A URL With DAX

Kasper de Jonge shows us how to generate a hyperlink in DAX based on filters in a report:

Thanks to two recent Power BI features it now possible to generate a link on the fly using DAX to go to a new report and pass in any filters. (Alsop imagine linking to your favorite SSRS report !)

In this blog post we will create a DAX formula that generate a hyperlink based on the filters in the report. The measure contains 2 parts, the first part is generating the right url to the target report using DAX and the second part is passing the filters to that report.

We will be using variables a lot in these expressions, more on variables in DAX can be found here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/query-bi/dax/var-dax

Read on for an example.

Confirmation In Powershell

Shane O’Neill shows off how easy it is to add confirmation checkpoints into Powershell code:

Finally it works… BUT…

  • It’s 26 lines long for this piece of code. If we have multiple then this is going to blow up size wise, and
  • There’s definitely more but I think I’ve gotten the point across (or I hope I have).

So let’s try and use what’s built in to PowerShell.

The built-in version is 3 lines of code and provides more functionality.  You probably want to use that version; click through to see this all in action.

Finding The First Non-NULL Value In A Window

Bert Wagner shows off the FIRST_VALUE window function and walks us through a case it struggles with:

The SQL Server FIRST_VALUE function makes it easy to return the “first value in an ordered set of values.”

The problem is that if that first value happens to be a NULL, there is no easy, built-in way to skip it.

While a UserVoice item exists to add the ability to ignore nulls (go vote!), today, we’re going accomplish that end result with some alternative queries.

Click through for the demo, as well as a video version of the post.

Writing C# Extension Methods In Biml

Kevin Feasel



Cathrine Wilhelmsen shows us how to avoid repeating our C# code using extensions:

In a previous blog post, we looked at how to use C#/VB Code Files in Biml. There are several benefits to moving custom C# code into separate files. It allows you to reuse that code across multiple projects and solutions. You can maintain the code in your editor of choice, taking advantage of intellisense and syntax highlighting. And finally, my personal favorite: you can create custom extension methods.

In this post, we will look at how to simplify our Biml projects by creating and using C# extension methods. We will build on the examples from the previous C#/VB Code Files in Biml blog post.

*pushes up glasses* You know, this would be even easier in F# and wouldn’t need extension methods.

Joking-not-joking aside, read the whole thing.

Catalog Your SQL Servers: The SQL Undercover Catalogue

David Fowler announces the SQL Undercover Catalogue:

Where Can I Get the Catalogue From?

The Undercover Catalogue is available from our GitHub site.

What Does the Catalogue Store?

The Undercover Catalogue stores all manner of useful information on your SQL Servers,

  • Instances –
  • Databases
  • Logins
  • Users and permissions
  • Agent Jobs

with many more modules planned in future releases.

Check it out and I’m sure they’d love feedback.  Also, read on for where this toolkit is going.


August 2018
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