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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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SSRS Top N and Bottom N Reporting with Duplicates

  • 13 June 2011
  • Author: MikeDavis
  • Number of views: 1809

Previously I wrote a blog on Top N and Bottom N reporting. There were a couple of gotcha I did not cover in that blog so I thought I would cover those here to answer some of the questions I have received. The other blog can be found here.

On a report you are trying to group the top N number of rows together and all others should be in a separate group. Let’s say you want the top 5 sales people based on amount.

In my other blog I showed how to use the Top N and Bottom N filters on groups. The major problem comes in when you have duplicate amounts at the cut off. For example if you want the top 5 sales employees to be in one group based on their sales amount, and three employees tie for the number 5 slot. This would cause more than 5 people to show in the top N group and those same people would show in the bottom N using the technique I showed in the previous blog.

So how do you fix this? You will need a different method to do this. You need to find the cut off amount and spilt the top from the bottom based on that amount.

Here is the table we will use on the report. Notice that positions 4, 5, and 6 have the same amount. If you set the filter on the report to top 5 you will get 6 rows in the top. The Bottom N method I showed in the previous blog will fail because the bottom group will not know about the extra rows in the top group. This will cause row 6 to show in both groups.

Top N Bottom N
A better way to do this Top N and Bottom N grouping would be to find the cut off amount and filter the groups based on this.

Here is the main query pulling the data to show on the table.

SELECT        RowNum, Name, Amount
FROM            TopN


Now you need to create a new data set and the query will look like below

With O as(
Select top (@N) t.RowNum, t.Amount, t.Name
From TopN t
Order by Amount desc
Select Top 1 Amount
From O
Order by Amount


I named this dataset MinTopAmount. This query is using a CTE to get the top N amounts. N is a parameter on the report, you can hard code this if desired. Then the outside query gets the lowest amount from that query. This gives you the lowest amount to show in the top N group. This query will only return single row and column with the cut off amount.

Now you need to set up the filters on the groups to filter based on the amount instead of Top or Bottom. These are two adjacent groups on a single table.

Top N Bottom N
The Sum of the Amount value form the new dataset, which is named MinTopAmount in this example, should not sum anything because the query only returns one row due to the top 1 in the query with the CTE. The bottom group will have the exact same filter except it will use less than instead of greater than or equal to.

With the N set to 5 it will divide based on the amount at the fifth spot. If there is a tie, it won’t matter.

In this image you can see the bottom group in blue. Notice even though we selected Top 5 we get 6 rows in the top due to the tie, everyone else is in the bottom group.

Top N Bottom N
If you have any issues let me know.

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