In this post, we will look at a tool called Power View, Microsoft’s new Data Visualization tool. It is quite interesting that Power View is part of the SQL Server 2012 release but needs SharePoint 2010 to run. In my opinion it is a big diversion compared to previous releases of SQL Server. On the other hand, it also shows the need for ready to use, end user data visulization tool.
Power View is a server side Silverlight based application which runs in a web browser. The intention of this product is to be able to present the data in a FUN and MEANINGFUL way using highly interactive visualizations, animations, smart querying and rich STORYBOARDING (a feature that allows users to embed charts and graphs in PowerPoint presentations making it possible to show the effects of data changes) presentation capabilities. With this tool we can forget all the complex multidimensional concepts like dimensions, measure groups etc and focus only on Data Presentation.
To be able to use Power View, you need SharePoint 2010 Enterprise Edition SP1 installed and SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services installed and configured in SharePoint integrated mode. Power View reports can be created against PowerPivot workbooks (which are based on BISM tabular model) OR BISM tabular model created and published in SQL Server Analysis Services.
The screen shot below shows an example of a Power View report.
In the screen shot above three main areas of the Power View designer are highlighted
- Ribbon (giving you the office 2010 like user experience)
- Canvas (the data presentation area)
- Field List (the top half is from the underlying data model and the bottom half shows the selections made for the visualization).
Is Power View a replacement for SQL Server Reporting Services tools like Report Designer in BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio) for Visual Studio, Report Builder or Performance Point Services in SharePoint?
Tools like Report Designer and Report Builder are used to create powerful data rich static reports by power users and IT pros for end users. The end user is just consuming the reports, they are not creating the reports themselves.
Performance Point Services is used for creating complex dashboards including KPIs and Scorecards, collecting data from multiple data sources. This tool is also used by advanced users.
Power View on the other is targeted at end users or business users. Business users have no idea about the underlying data models but they know the data, they know how they want their reports. Power View is aimed atpresentation ready, Ad-hoc reporting or Self-Service BI so the business users can create compelling and interactive reports.
Power View is definitely a great complement to the SharePoint BI tool set making it possible to quicklyVISUALIZE the data in a fun and interactive way. To me it provides a canvas for the creative mind to go wild with the data presentation capabilties.