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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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BI Documenter

  • 28 April 2011
  • Author: Robert Cain
  • Number of views: 3084

When I came to work for Pragmatic Works, I was naturally given the opportunity to use their (well our now) tools. Of all of them I think BI Documenter is my favorite. Boy is this thing complete.

Of course, like some of the other SQL Server documentation packages it will do a great job of reverse engineering an existing relational database. BI Documenter will output either HTML or a compiled help file (CHM) file. It places your database structure into a drill down tree, with all the expected bits and pieces. Tables, columns, stored procedures, functions, all with the code needed to create it.

It doesn’t stop there though. Got Analysis Services? Not a problem. It will generate the same drill down structure that you are used to seeing for a standard SQL Server database. Cubes, Measures, Dimensions, KPIs, Calculations, complete with all the meta data and MDX you could ever want.

Of all the features though, the absolute coolest is it’s support for Integration Services. You can point it at either your SSIS server, or to a file store, or just to the directory with your solution. Here’s a sample that uses the package from my Intro to SSIS presentation:



Not only does it provide detailed info (it appears below the pic) but it will also reproduce the graphical flow! And if that wasn’t cool enough, you can drill down into the other executable parts, such as the data flow.



Here’s a small sample of the details:


It doesn’t stop there either, providing complete support for SSRS as well. Just point it at your Reporting Services server and away it’ll go!

Now, I realize this sounds a lot like a commercial, and since I now work for Pragmatic Works probably more so. Bu I just think this is an awesomely cool product, I can think of a lot of uses for it too. Providing turn over documentation, running it weekly to create version snapshots so you can track changes to your SQL Server, providing reference material for developers, and probably a zillion other things I haven’t thought of. (If you have thought of some, by all means leave a comment, would love to hear how YOU are using this.)

I’m sure I’m not doing the product justification, so if you want to see some video demos head on over to for more info. And again, I apologize if this sounds like a commercial but I am blown away by how cool this product is so I just had to share.



Disclaimer: I do work for Pragmatic Works, and received my copy of this really cool software as a result of my employment.

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