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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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Extracting Data From Multiple Files with Power Query

  • 13 August 2013
  • Author: DevinKnight
  • Number of views: 5358

In this post I’d like to demonstrate another way Power Query can solve simple data extraction problems without much time or effort.  If you’re still learning the basics of Power Query please refer back to an earlier post here.

This demonstration will show you how to use Power Query to scan a file folder to search for a set of files to load.  Then load the contents of multiple files all at once and use transformations to format the data appropriately..

Step by Step

  • Launch Excel 2010 or higher.
  • Select the Power Query tab.
  • Select From File under the Get External Data section of the tab.
  • Choose the option From Folder, which allows you to load more than one file at once.


  • Browse to a folder, which has the files you desire to load then click OK. These files should all be formatted similarly to each other.  Having the same data types and column names.


  • This opens the Query Editor, which lists all the files that are available in the folder you selected in the previous step.  The initial view show metadata about the files like the file name, extension, relevant dates and the folder path.  If there were other files in this folder that should not be loaded you could filter them out at this point.  The other interesting columns are Content and Attributes.  The Attributes column  has additional metadata that can be queried and the Content column stores the actual data of each file.  Click the down arrows next to the column header for Content. 


  • The data from all four files in now combined together into a single query, but there is still transformations in the data that must be completed.  Start by right-clicking on Column1 header and select Split Column > By Delimiter.


  • Click OK to accept the defaults of configuration, which will split each column by a comma.
  • Next, right-click on either column header and select Use First Row As Headers to give the query appropriate column names.


  • You will notice the previous step only gave us column headers from the first file.  If you look in the results you will find the column headers listed for the other files too.  To remove these extra column header rows select the down arrow next to the Name column and uncheck the Name value then click OK.


  • You have now successfully combined 3 files using Power Query.  Click Done to bring this data into Excel.  Once in Excel this can easily be added to tools like Power Pivot for additional analysis.

Hope this helps!

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