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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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Dealing with Power Pivot to Tabular Upgrade Errors

  • 4 November 2013
  • Author: DevinKnight
  • Number of views: 8493

Upgrading from Power Pivot workbooks to SSAS Tabular models is usually a pretty seamless process.  This is part of the beauty of the relationship between Tabular and Power Pivot.  This allows an Analyst to get started on a project using Power Pivot and when new requirements like row level security are needed IT can upgrade the workbook to Tabular and add the security feature. 

While this generally is a smooth process I often see the same couple error messages pop up for folks that are doing this.  So here’s a couple of the most common problems and how to deal with them. 

Error:  The file chosen does not contain PowerPivot content embedded in it. Choose a valid PowerPivot for Excel file.


Translation:  The version of Excel that you are trying to upgrade is not compatible with the version of SQL Server you are running.  This often happens when you are trying to upgrade an Excel 2013 workbook to SQL Server 2012.  You can narrow this down to the problem because if you attempt to upgrade and Excel 2010 workbook it works without any issue.

Solution:  This problem has been solved with SQL Server 2012 SP1 and Cumulative Update 4.  Install these and you shouldn’t see the issue any more.


Error: The PowerPivot workbook could not be imported. The service account for the workspace database server does not have permission to read from the PowerPivot workbook.


Translation: The Service Account that is running the SSAS Tabular does not have rights to the folder that the Power Pivot workbook is stored in.  You can find out which account this is by launching the SQL Server Configuration Manager and find the instance name.

Solution:  Grant the Service Account the permissions it needs or move the Power Pivot workbook to a folder that the Service Account does have access to.

If you know the Service Account does indeed have access but still is not able to import with this error then again you likely need to upgrade to SQL Server 2012 SP1.


As you can see both of these problems can be solved by upgrading to the latest Service Pack.  Remember SSAS Tabular was a new product to SQL Server 2012 and as you may expect with a new product if will go through some growing pains.

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