Writing for BIDN

Looking to give back to the community or learn through teaching others? Anyone can post blogs by clicking Add Blog Post after contacting us for permission.

«August 2015»
MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
272829

Power BI and Big Data

If you’re worked in the wide and diverse field of information technology for almost any amount of time, it probably hasn’t taken you long to discover that the one thing constant about IT is that the technologies and strategies involved change faster than you can learn them. And if you work in business intelligence like I do, you don’t have to look very far at all to see change. The Microsoft Power BI team rolls out a software update every month! If I want to stay learned up on the technology, I have to really be on top of things.

About ten years ago when Hadoop was first being developed at Yahoo, I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the size of the ripples (more likes cannonball sized splashes) being able to access Big Data could and would have on the IT industry. Hadoop (and other advances in hardware and software technologies) gave us something we never had before: The ability to access and report on data in real time on a scale never previously imagined gives an organization to identify and understand trends and patterns in the data and gain previously unknown insights. The organizations that are able to leverage big data will be the organizations that leave their competition in the dust.

Set Up and Configure the Hortonworks Sandbox in Azure

Not only does Power BI Desktop give us the ability to connect to Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) for reporting we can also mash it up with other more traditional and structured data sources with minimal effort required. But that’s not what this blog post is all about. This post is about setting up a virtual machine in Azure running Hadoop and connecting to our Hortonworks Sandbox with Power BI Desktop :).

The first thing you do if you don’t have access to a Hadoop cluster is to set up the Hortonworks Sandbox on Azure. The good news is its free (for the duration of the trial) and its super easy. Just follow the instructions at this link to set up the Hortonworks Sandbox.

Hadoop in Azure

Once that’s set up, you’ll need to add mapping for the IP address and host name to your hosts file. Devin Knight has a blog on this that you’ll find helpful.

Connecting to Hadoop with Power BI Desktop

Once your Hortonworks Sandbox is set up, you’re ready to set up your connection to Hadoop with Power BI Query. Start up the Power BI Desktop and click Get Data. Scroll down and select Hadoop File (HDFS) and click Connect.

Get Data with Power BI

From there you can follow the rest of the wizard to load the data into the semantic model.

Load Data with Power BI

Once the data is loaded, you’ll need to modify the query to navigate to the data you wish to use in your model.

In Power BI Desktop, go to the Home ribbon and click Edit Queries.

Read more

30

Three Best Practices for Power BI

Since the release of Power BI Desktop this past week, I’ve been really spending my extra time digging into the application focusing on learning and experimenting as much as I can. When my wife has been watching Law and Order: SVU reruns at night after the rug rats are in bed, I’ve been right there next to her designing Power BI dashboards like the total data nerd that I am. When my kids have been taking their naps during the weekend, I’ve been writing calculations in the model for my test dashboards. Or when I’ve been riding in the car back and forth to work I’ve been thinking of new things to do with Power BI Desktop.

Since I’ve been spending a decent amount of time with Power BI Desktop, I thought I’d take a moment to share three things to know and remember when designing your Power BI models and dashboards that I think will help you make the most of this tool and be effective at providing the data your business needs to succeed.

1. Optimize your Power BI Semantic Model

It probably hasn’t taken you long to figure this one out if you’ve built Power Pivot/Tabular models or at least it won’t when you do start developing Power BI dashboards. The visualizations in Power BI and Power View are heavily meta-data driven which means that column names, table or query names, formatting and more are surfaced to the user in the dashboard. So if you using a really whacky naming convention in your data warehouse for your tables like “dim_Product_scd2_v2” and the column names aren’t much better, these naming conventions are going to be shown to the users in the report visualizations and field list.

For example, take a look at the following report.

Power BI Dashboard without formatting

Notice anything wonky about it? Check the field names, report titles and number formatting. Not very pretty, is it? Now take a look at this report.

Power BI Dashboard with formatting

See the difference a little cleaned up metadata makes? All I did was spend a few minutes giving the fields user-friendly name and formatting the data types. This obviously makes a huge difference in the way the dashboard appears to the users. By the way, I should get into the movie production business. ;)

My point is that the names of columns, formatting, data types, data categories and relationships are all super important to creating clean, meaningful and user friendly dashboards. The importance of a well-defined semantic model cannot be understated in my opinion. A good rule of thumb is to spend 80% to 90% of your time on the data model (besides, designing the reports is the easy part).

I’d also like the mention the importance of the relationships between the objects in the semantic model. Chance are you will have a small group of power users that will want to design their own dashboards to meet their job’s requirements and that’s one of the beauties of Power BI. But when users began developing reports, they may query your model in unexpected ways that will generate unexpected behaviors and results. I only want to mention this because the relationships between the objects in the model will impact the results your users will see in their reports. Double check your relationships and ensure that they are correct, especially after you add new objects to the model since the

Read more
31

Power BI Fantasy Football Player Stats Dashboards for Download

Every year at Pragmatic Works some coworkers, including consultants, marketing staff, support team members, software development staff and project management, partake in a company fantasy football league. And with the recent release of the new Power BI Desktop, I thought what better way is there to prepare to completely annihilate my coworkers and friends in an imaginary nonsensical game than by creating some nifty Power BI dashboards based on last years player stats as recorded by Yahoo! Sports. So I thought I’d walk you through some of the steps I followed to leverage the Yahoo! Sports NFL player stats page as a data source and some of the query transformations I applied to prepare the data for reporting.

Power BI dashboard with Power BI Desktop

Click here to download my Fantasy Football Dashboards Power BI .pbix file.

If you’re completed new to Power BI Desktop I highly suggest you watch my video walkthrough of Power BI Desktop or read my blog post which walks you through each step of creating your first Power BI dashboards with Power BI Desktop. Last Friday, I also blogged about my three best practices for designing a killer Power BI solution, so take a look at that.

To create these dashboards, I simply navigated to the Yahoo! Sports NFL stats page and found the page for each position I’m interested in for this fantasy football season. I copied the URL to my clipboard. In Power BI Desktop, click Get Data and then use the Web data source option. Then all you have to do is copy and paste the URL into the text box and click OK.

Get data from web with Power BI Desktop

Then select the HTML table that contains your data and click Edit. We need to edit our query because there are some issues with the data. By clicking Edit, we can apply transformations to our query which will allow us to do things like rename columns, remove unwanted columns, modify data types, create custom columns and much more.

Get data from web with Power BI Desktop

One thing you’ll notice in the above screen grab is that the column names are in the first row, so we need to fix that.

On the Home ribbon of the Query Editor, just click the Use First Row As Headers button. Pre

Read more
12

Power BI Tip: Use the Treemap Chart as a Colorful Slicer

Power BI Desktop has been out for GA for over a week now and some of the pro’s out there have come up with some pretty cool tricks. For instance:

But if you’re looking for a way to spice up you report filtering with a little color, try using the Treemap chart as a Slicer for those fields that only contain a few unique values. At this point with Power BI, you don’t have any customization options for the Slicer visualization (although I’m sure that is coming down the pipe in a future release). This option won’t work terribly well if the field you would like to use as a slicer has more than a dozen or so unique members, but you can experiment with it and see what you can come up with. Here’s my Treemap Slicer in action.

tree map slice in action

To multi-select tiles in the Treemap slicer, just hold Cntrl as you click. To reselect

This little trick relies on the natural cross filtering between data regions in the Power BI dashboards. First I created a measure that calculates the distinct count of the field that I wish to use as my slicer. In this case the field is Genre.

Power BI Distinct Count DAX calculation

Then I added a Treemap chart to the report using the field Genre as the Group value and the measure Distinct Count Genre as the Values.

image

Then just resize the Treemap visualization so that the squares are about evenly sized. There’s a few ways you can arrange it, but just play around with it and see what you can come up with.

Power BI Dashboard with Treemap Slicer Power BI Dashboard with Treemap Slicer

Feedback?

What do you think? Leave me a comment below and let me know. Or if you’ve got a neat Power BI trick you’d like to share, let me know, as well. I love to hear new ideas! Thanks for reading!


Read more
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31123456

Consuming News Through Social Media and Read It Later With Pocket

  • 19 March 2013
  • Author: DevinKnight
  • Number of views: 3218
  • 0 Comments

These days the fastest way, not always the most accurate, to get news is through social media.  Technology, sports, politics, and breaking news will always be found first on social media outlets like Twitter. 

For example, I’m a huge fan of American Football or most known as the NFL.  Every year the NFL teams draft players from college teams to play professionally. This is done through a big televised spectacle called the NFL Draft and is held across multiple days once a year generally in April.  The highly anticipated moment is always when the commissioner walks up to the podium and announces which player each team has picked.  Well that moment that is so exciting to watch (most casual fans would not call the draft exciting) on live TV is now very anticlimactic because of Twitter and other social media outlets that told me 5 minutes earlier which player was picked. 

It sounds like I’m complaining right?  No, in actuality I love it and embrace it.  Obviously if i didn’t want to know this kind of information early I wouldn’t look at Twitter during the live draft.  Can i guarantee this information is accurate?  Absolutely not, there’s not any news outlets that can make that guarantee.  Sports news is one thing, if I make a mistake repeating what I read through social media it isn’t a big deal (because my career is not in sports) but technology, world news, politics, etc… you should always consider the source of the information and do your own research.  Don’t blindly believe everything you read through social media.  I think most people understand this but those that are new to consuming news through social media will learn it fast.

So you get my point, social media is great a providing news extremely fast.  Now if you’re like me you’re probably an extremely busy person.  I keep a very busy schedule at work and with three young children at home time is limited to catch up on the latest news.  That’s why Twitter is my favorite social media outlet.  Tweets are short, usually easy to read/search and with many of the mobile apps available I can quickly read them from my smart phone of choice. 

My smart phone is generally how I consume Twitter because like I mentioned I have such a busy work schedule I don’t have time to keep a constant distraction up on my screen while working.  Nothing against you if you do this, you’re probably just better at multitasking than I am.  With Twitter post only allowing 140 characters my phone is fine for reading content, but 140 characters isn’t long enough to read the full story is it?  I certainly don’t think so and that’s why tweets that have more information often will include a link to a full article or blog.  This is great but I don’t want to use my phone to read a two page story.

That’s why for about  9 months now I’ve been using a a free online tool called Pocket(formally Read It Later) to read entire stories at my convenience.  Basically Pocket let’s you archive any Twitter post that has a link so you can read at a later time.  This has definitely saved me because often I’ve seen a tweet about a new piece of technology and if I didn’t have this archiving tool I would probably forget to go back and read about it later.  The nice thing is it’s not limited to Twitter.  For example, some web browsers have a Pocket add-in that will allow you to archive web pages as you surf the web.

I also like really like the output.  It almost has the look and feel of live tiles that you can scroll through to catch up on your stories.

image

I’m not much for endorsing products but I thought I would share this one sense it has allowed me to keep up with the details of news rather than just the headlines.  If you’re interested in giving Pocket a try visit them here http://getpocket.com/.

Print
Tags:
Rate this article:
No rating
DevinKnight

DevinKnightDevinKnight

Other posts by DevinKnight

Please login or register to post comments.