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«November 2015»

DirectQuery in Power BI Desktop

In the latest Power BI Desktop a new Preview features was released that now allows you to connect using DirectQuery to either SQL Server or Azure SQL Databases.  DirectQuery is a really neat feature that allows you to point to the live version of the data source rather than importing the data into a data model in Power BI Desktop. 

Normally when you want to get an updated dataset in the Power BI Desktop you would have to manually click the refresh button (this can be automated in the Power BI Service), which would initiate a full reimport of your data.  This refresh could take a variable amount of time depending on how much data your have.  For instance, if you’re refreshing a very large table you may be waiting quite a while to see the newly added data. 

With DirectQuery data imports are not required because you’re always looking at a live version of the data.  Let me show you how it works!

Turning on the DirectQuery Preview

Now, because DirectQuery is still in Preview you must first activate the feature by navigating to File->Options and settings->Options->Preview Features then check DirectQuery for SQL Server and Azure SQL Database


Once you click OK you may be prompted to restart the Power BI Desktop to utilize the feature.

Using DirectQuery in Power BI Desktop

Next make a connection either to an On-Premises SQL Server or Azure SQL database.

Go to the Home ribbon and select Get Data then SQL Server.


Provide your Server and Database names then click OK. ***Do not use a SQL statement.  It is not currently supported with DirectQuery***


From the Navigator pane choose the table(s) you would like to use.  I’m just going to pick the DimProduct table for this example and then click Load.  You could select Edit and that would launch the Query Editor where you could manipulate the extract.  This would allow you to add any business rules needed to the data before visualizing it.


Next you will be prompted to select what you want to connect to the data. Again, Import means the data

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The Big Data Blog Series

Over the last few years I’ve been speaking a lot on the subject of Big Data. I started by giving an intermediate session called “Show Me Whatcha’ Workin’ With”. This session was designed for people who had attended a one hour introductory session that showed you how to load data, to look at possible applications … Continue reading The Big Data Blog Series
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SSRS: Use multiple fonts, sizes and colors in a single text box.

  • 23 February 2011
  • Author: DanielBowlin
  • Number of views: 64339

Over the past few years I have seen a lot of forum posts from people looking to make a single word bolder or a different color to highlight something inside a single text box.  Most efforts in this area have resulted in frustration and work arounds.  Starting with SSRS 2008 there something I consider a little known feature that brings most of this frustration to an end.  The feature is called Create Placeholder, and it allows many new formatting options for a single textbox.  The first time I went looking for it, I couldn’t even find it, but I kept poking around and eventually realized my simple error. 

Start with any textbox on a report.  It can be a standalone textbox or part of a tablix.  The mistake I initially made was right clicking ON the textbox as though I was going to create an expression or modify the textbox properties.  What you need to do is click IN the textbox as though you are going to type directly into the textbox.  Then right click and you will see an option on the menu for Create Placeholder.  (This is a natural spot for a picture.  Sorry I can’t seem to grab the popup menu with a screen capture.) 

The dialog box that opens is very much like the textbox dialog, minus a few items that logically belong to the outer textbox object: Border, Fill, Visibility, and Sort.  All the existing options are remarkably similar to the Textbox dialog box with only a few differences.  One of the more interesting differences, Markup Type, is right on the General tab.  It allows you to put HTML style and formatting tags in your placeholder by choosing HTML.  If you choose the None option, anything you put in the value will be interpreted as plain text only.  However all your normal number, and font options remain.

Create Placeholder Dialog General tab

The Alignment tab is also pared back somewhat for this new object.

Alignment tab

Let’s try a few tweaks in a textbox.  Start by typing some text.

just text

Now right click next to that text and choose Create Placeholder and try a few font options.  Be sure to give your Placeholder object a Label and a Value as well as setting up the options.  You can also put multiple Placeholder objects in a single Textbox. 

Placeholders in Design Mode

As you can see in my sample the text you type in the Textbox can be mixed with Placeholders.  In Design Mode, the placeholders show their label names.  In preview mode the Placeholders show their values.

Preview Placeholders

This kind of formatting within a textbox opens up a lot of ways to enhance your reports in both very obvious ways and very subtle ways.  One thing is for sure, when used properly this object can increase the readability and impact of your reports. Using a Placeholder object can help you draw the eye to words and numbers you want to emphasize.  I think you can even use this to create a more dashboard like feel to some really basic text reports.

I hope you find this to be a useful tip.  Thanks for reading.

Categories: Analysis Services
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