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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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Visio 2010 Forward Engineer Add-in

  • 7 August 2012
  • Author: DevinKnight
  • Number of views: 10516

Somehow I missed this gem that’s been around for quite a while so I thought I would share it in case anyone else has yet to see it.  The Forward Engineer add-in is a really great open source project that allows Visio database diagrams you create to easily be converted to T-SQL that will create physical objects in a SQL Server database for you.

If you’ve ever used Visio for visualizing existing databases into a diagram then you’ve likely used the standard Reverse Engineer option.  The idea with the Forward Engineer add-in is exactly the opposite.  Meaning it will create database object (script them out) from a Visio design.

This functionality previously existed in Visio 2003, if you had the Enterprise Architect version.  Unfortunately, the feature was stripped out of the product after 2003 andAlberto Ferrari started this project to fill the gap.  He’s stopped development on the project several years ago but you’ll still find the open source project available here

When you download the tool you may have issues installing it like I did, but if you read the discussion page on the codeplex site it should guide you on how to maneuver around the problems.  The project does not appear to be actively getting updated so there are a few things like this to deal with but it’s worth it!

After installing you get a new tab in the Office ribbon in Visio that’s fairly basic.  The first button in the tab, Validate Data Model, will validate the data model before you create your script.  The second button, Forward Engineer, does the real work and will generate a .sql file that will create all the objects in your Visio diagram for your SQL Server database.


One of the things I was really hoping this tool could help me with is adding Extended Properties to each of my columns to make the database self-documenting but unfortunately it does not easily have the capabilities of doing that.  Alberto did write on a solution to show how this is possible but I’ve yet to get it to work for me.

I’ve start using this regularly now and It’s been a lifesaver to not only create documentation of my databases in Visio but then script out database objects.

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