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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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Creating Real World PowerPivot Models Recording and Q&A

  • 20 June 2013
  • Author: DevinKnight
  • Number of views: 3095

Thanks everyone for attending my free webinar on Creating Real World PowerPivot Models on June, 18, 2013.  If you were not able join for the live event you can now watch the recording here.

In this webinar we built out a live solution with the Pragmatic Works Marketing Director, Rachel, to prove PowerPivot is a very capable End User tool.  Using the marketing data she collects we built a Self-Service BI solution entirely in PowerPivot and finished with a quick Power View map report with Excel 2013.

This was part of an ongoing webinar series by Pragmatic Works offers every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 AM EST.

I’ve started to write follow up posts to these webinars because we always get great questions but there’s no way I could answer them all during the time allotted.  Here’s some of the questions I wasn’t able to get to and answers for them.

Q: Is it possible to add a table once you’ve already completed the first import?

Yes, fortunately it’s very easy to add new tables as requirements change into PowerPivot.  This is done the same way we demonstrated the initial import.

Q: If I create a hierarchy in the Date Dim, can it be re-used in my next project?

The only thing that is close to this is you can use one PowerPivot workbook as the data source in another PowerPivot workbook but unfortunately any hierarchies that are created will not carry over to the new model.  They would have to be recreated but luckily that is a very quick process with PowerPivot.

Q: I love it.  We have lots of SQL views we have created for reporting.  Do we really want the information consumer to define this or should we be using our views as our PowerPivot definition?

The information consumer or really a Power User would be the one to define all of what we showed during the webinar.  I say Power User because it requires a little bit of knowledge about table relationships.  Once that Power User defines the model he/she can share it will the information consumers for simply reporting on with either Excel PivotTables or Power View.

Q: How is the PowerPivot model you just created different from building a Tabular Model in SQL 2012 SSAS?

The way they are designed is very similar.  In fact, when you create a new Tabular model you can import the design from a PowerPivot workbook.  The big differences have to do with scalability.  PowerPivot relies on the resource of your machine or desktop to pull in and process data.  Tabular uses the resources of a server instance which hopefully is a beefier machine then your laptop.  Scalability of PowerPivot can also be done with PowerPivot for SharePoint.  Tabular also give you the ability to create partitions to help performance, apply row level security and query down to the underlying data source using DirectQuery.

Q: Is Power View possible on SharePoint 2010 and SQL Server 2012 and Office 2013 ?

Yes, there’s two ways you can do Power View now.  The easiest way is Excel 2013, which has Power View built into it and doesn’t require any additional install.  The other way to do Power View is SharePoint 2010 SP1 or higher (SharePoint 2013) and SQL Server 2012.

Again, thanks for joining me for the webinar and hope to see you in a future one!

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