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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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Excel 2013 Inquire Add-in

  • 11 February 2013
  • Author: DevinKnight
  • Number of views: 11507

What is Inquire

The Inquire Add-in for Excel 2013 helps you analyze and review your workbooks for things like relationships, invalid formulas, and to compare .xlsx files for differences.  Let’s take some time to review how to enable the add-in and then how to use it.

Enabling the Add-in

If you are using Office Professional Plus, the Inquire add-in comes installed with Excel you simply need to enable it.

The Inquire add-in is already installed with Excel 2013 you simply need to enable it by going to File –> Options –> Add-Ins.  Then Select COM Add-ins from the Manage dropdown and click Go


Check off Inquire from the Add-Ins available list then click OK.


Once you have enabled the add-in the INQUIRE tab will appear in the increasingly crowded Office ribbon.


Let’s take a look at what this new add-in has given us.

What does it do?


Workbook Analysis

The Workbook Analysis tool is used for analyzing details of a workbook for reporting on the things like the workbook structure, formulas, cells, ranges, and warnings.


One odd thing here that a lot of people notice a workbook structure property called “Very hidden sheets”.  This is simple another way of hiding sheets through VBA.  See here for more details on how to do a Very hidden sheet.


Workbook Relationship

The Workbook Relationship tool shows links between multiple workbooks that you may have.  This can be especially helpful when you have dozens of cell references to an external workbook.  Trying to untangle that mess can be very difficult and this tool visualizes those dependencies.


Worksheet Relationship

The Worksheet Relationship tool works exactly the same as the Workbook Relationship but now visualizing dependencies at the sheet level.


Cell Relationship

Again the Cell Relationship tool is very similar but it only shows relationships of cells that you have highlighted prior to click on the command.  These are often dependencies are often displayed because a cell is referenced in a formula.



Compare Files

The Compare Files command lets you see the differences, cell by cell, between two workbooks. You need to have two workbooks open in Excel to run this command.

Any differences that the compare tool finds color coded by content type in a grid view.  Here’s an example output:



Clean Excess Cell Formatting

If you've developed an Excel workbook that’s gotten out hand with how large it is and how much logic is built in use the Clean Excess Cell Formatting tool to remove extra formatting on cells that you may not be aware of. 

This can actually help increase the performance and file size of workbook that have become bloated with this kind of leftover formatting.  You can test it out by putting a background color on a couple irrelevant cells and then run the tool.

Workbook Passwords

If you are using the Inquire add-in for analyzing workbooks that are password protected you must add the workbook password to the Password Manager.



This is the standard Excel Help that will walk you through what the add-in does.

I’ve found the Inquire add-in has a couple nice features that i can definitely see myself using in our increasingly Excel centric world we live in.

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