Dan English's BI Blog

Welcome to my random thoughts in regards to Business Intelligence, databases, and other technologies

Archive for April, 2015

Power BI Preview–The Designer

Posted by denglishbi on April 9, 2015

We will continue exploring the ‘new’ Power BI Preview and in this post we will look at the Power BI Designer.  The Power BI Designer is the new download tool that you can get (for FREE) that provides the ability to get data, transform it, add calculated columns, merge, etc. (Power Query) and create reports (like Power View – but the Silverlight is gone! but features not completely identical yet, few more visualizations added though).

NOTE: The Power BI capabilities that have been added to Excel over the years with the add-ins and some are becoming native, are now transitioning into the designer to allow for more rapid releases and one tool versus the different add-in components.  And did I mention…it is FREE?!?

To get started you will first need to download and install the designer.  You can check out one of my previous posts on the walkthrough of installing and highlighting the features – Installing Power BI Designer Preview Experience.  You can download the designer from the downloads location on the Power BI site.  In this example I have the latest build that was made available at end of March 2015 – version 2.21.3975.261.

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Once you have this downloaded and installed you will then launch the tool to get started.

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On first launch you have the ability to access forums, the team blog, tutorials, and videos.  The team has done an outstanding job on creating lots of great content right out of the gate!

If you are familiar with Power Query then you will be very comfortable with the get data portion and creating the queries that can then be used to load the model to be used for report creation.

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In this screenshot you will see that there has been a recent update and a new source is available for Google Analytics!  This was recently announced in the blog here – 7 New Updates to the Power BI Designer Preview (March 2015).

In this example I will go back to a previous one I did when I first covered Power Query (previously known as Data Explorer) – Installing Data Explorer Preview & Demo with IMDB Data.  I will try and recreate this solution with the new designer and you can see the comparison.  At the end I will note a few of the differences that I have come across so far.

First I will get the data, this time around I am going to get the core data from the IMDB website like I did previously, but then I will use a function to do a call and retrieve JSON from http://omdbapi.com.

Original site view on IMDB (click image to go to the actual site)

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Initial query results getting data from the web

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Function created that will then provide additional information about the movie such as genre, actors, awards, runtime, rating, plot, votes, poster url, etc.  In my initial example I did I used VBA code and parsed XML data, this time around I am doing this all with Power Query functionality.

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Now combining this function call into a calculated column in the first query we end up with our complete data set.

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We can then create our reports.

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If you compare this to my original post from the Data Explorer you will notice that they are a tad different.

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So some of the items that I came across in the new designer are the following (as of 4/9/2015):

– No image support in data model, not able to access the model yet to complete this setup, plus not able to include or embed images

– No ability to control the formatting of the numeric values as far as number of decimals, to include commas, currency

– No data card title support, this goes back to not being able to access the model and complete the setup

– Not able to resize columns and easily resize items such as data cards

– Not able to add data labels to visuals

– Not able to remove a sort on a table once it has been triggered (I accidently did this a couple of times, clicked on a column)

– No textbox at all which is possibly the #1 item used today in Power View

– No play axis support in scatter charts

– No color, styles, or theme support options to control color options

– Limited filter options (need to drag-and-drop to filters), no pinned filters, and just multi select checkboxes (so hope you don’t have a long list, numeric values do have some extra options)

Some of the things that you will see that have been added are the following:

– easily change visuals when item selected

– new visuals that were added such as – treemap, filled map, radial gauge, funnel, and combo charts (require same axis if you combine them)

– new relationship options to provide support out-of-the-box for many-to-many

Now once you have your data and reports created the next step is to save your file (pbix extension) and then if you go back to the Power BI site in the Get Data section you can upload your file to a dashboard (make sure you are in the dashboard you want this added or create a new one first).

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Once you have the file uploaded you will see your reports and dataset as well. In the next post we will take a look at adding items to the dashboard and exploring the Q&A capabilities.

For a recap of previous posts check out the following:

Getting Started with the Power BI Preview

Power BI Preview Layout Overview

Power BI Preview–Getting the Data

If you liked the example and want to check out the file you can download it from here http://1drv.ms/1JqmwaF

NOTE: I have set the File Settings in this file to ignore Privacy levels, otherwise I was being prompted for each call to the web to get the images for the move posters that are being pulled into the model (ready for when the support for images and accessing the data model is available – thanks to Kasper for his help on this – Loading an image into the Model using Power Query).

Hopefully in a couple of weeks we will be able to expand on this example once we can access the data model, can’t wait!

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PASS Business Analytics VC April Meeting – Transforming Reporting Requirements Into a Visual Masterpiece

Posted by denglishbi on April 2, 2015

The next PASS Business Analytics Virtual Chapter meeting is coming up next week on Thursday, April 9.  This month we welcome Microsoft SQL Server MVP Paul Turley.

April 9 – Transforming Reporting Requirements Into a Visual MasterpieceBAVCLogo (1)

Abstract – Starting with an understanding of user objectives and business needs, we’ll talk about choosing the right visual theme for a report or dashboard; choosing the right tool and then explore techniques to deliver a functional reporting experience. We’ll talk about reporting on different data sources such as a SQL Server data mart, SSAS multidimensional & SSAS Tabular model. We’ll also consider a choice of visualization tools like SSRS, Power View and Excel Services.

Bio – Paul Turley (Blog | LinkedIn | Twitter) is a Mentor with SolidQ and a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. He consults, writes, speaks, teaches & blogs about business intelligence and reporting solutions. He works with companies around the world to visualize and deliver critical information to make informed business decisions. He is a Director of the Oregon SQL PASS chapter & user group, the lead author of Professional SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services and 13 other titles from Wrox, Packt & Microsoft Press.

–> REGISTER NOW <–

This month we will also be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card as well!  You need to not only register for the event, but also attend in order to qualify for the give away.

If you are interested in speaking we are always looking for speakers, please leave a comment or send me an email at denglishbi@gmail.com

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Power BI Preview–Getting the Data

Posted by denglishbi on April 1, 2015

In the first two posts we looked at Getting Started with Power BI Preview and then Power BI Preview Layout Overview.  The next item that you will want to do now that you are somewhat familiar with the “new” Power BI is getting data to create datasets, reports, and dashboards!

Power BI Preview is known as a SaaS (software as a service) – a web-based service that you can leverage to deliver your solutions.  As mentioned in the first post there is a free as well as subscription based offering ($9.99 per user/month) . There are also canned built-in solutions that you can leverage right out-of-the-box.  So if you are using or have any of the following services or functionality the time it will take for you to getting insights is greatly reduced, you can get a kick start to your reporting with just a few clicks:

– Excel workbooks: leverage existing Excel files; could contain tables, charts, data models, Power View reports; these would be uploaded to the Power BI Preview site

– Power BI Designer File: we will cover this more in the next post, but if you download the designer and then load data, create reports, and save the file you can upload this into the Power BI Preview site

– SQL Server Analysis Services: with the downloadable connector that was mentioned in the second post for the layout overview you have the ability to query on-premise tabular SSAS databases

– Online services: if you are using GitHub, Marketo, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, SendGrid, or Zendesk you can connect using your credentials and there are pre-built templates that will be created for you with dashboard, reports, and dataset to jump start and get quick insights to the service and your usage

– Retail Analysis Sample: the initial sample that gets displayed and you see in the first two posts; sample file you can get familiar with to see functionality and test drive

To get started simply click on the Get Data (item #2 in the Layout Overview post).

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Now you will see the list of the options you have to get started to work with data.

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As an example let’s take a look at the GitHub option we will go to GitHub –> Connect.

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For this example I am going to connect to the d3 repository (d3 is a JavaScript visualization library for HTML and SVG).

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You will then be prompted for authorization and I am already signed into GitHub. This is using oAuth.

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This will now create a new dataset, reports, and dashboard. It will connect and begin to import the data that will populate the dashboard and you will be able to immediately get some insights!

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And if you look at the reports that were added you can see there is additional information that you can review and add to the dashboard and you can also create more reports and enhance the out-of-the-box template that was provided.

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Pretty amazing, and this is all free!

In the next post we will take a look at using the Power BI Designer to create our own dataset and reports that we can then use to load into the Power BI web site.

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