BI-NSIGHT – Power BI GA (24 July 2015) / Updates – SQL Server 2016 CTP2.2 (SSRS Treemap & Sunburst Charts)

This week has been another amazing and interesting week with regards to Power BI.

So here are is the latest information that I could get my hands on!

Power BI – GA (General Availability)

This week finally Power BI will go into General Availability. Which has been a long time coming and something that I have been looking forward to ever since it was announced.

I can remember reading about all the changes that are going to be coming out this summer (Northern Hemisphere), and eagerly waiting to see what these changes would be. Would some of the items that I have voted for be in the upcoming updates. And indeed some of them are. Which is great and shows how Microsoft has started to listen to what the customers and users are looking for.

In my opinion I do think that in a year’s time, Power BI will be an amazing product with a whole host of new features and usability that we previously had never thought of!

It is great to see that they are going to be releasing updates in the same way as they have done with Power Query. Due to this being out of the Office and particularly Excel, it means that they can make changes, updates and new functionality which will be rolled out on a regular basis. And what that means of both the customers and the developers is that we get an ever evolving product.

One of the things that I wanted to highlight is that I did test out the new Rendering engine. And not only does it look amazing, with so many customizations, it is also lightning fast. I mean really fast when you click on a visualization. They do speak about it in the Power BI – GA and beyond… but WOW to actually use it and try it out, it is quick.

You can either vote for existing idea’s or create your own idea here: Microsoft Power BI Support

As well as if you are looking for help or want to help out they have also created a fantastic community which can be found here: Microsoft Power BI Community

And finally you can read all about the Power BI GA here: Power BI – GA and beyond…

Power BI Updates

Along with the Power BI GA (General Availability) coming at the end of the week, the extremely busy people at Microsoft have started rolling out some of the changes into the online Power BI Service.

There are quite a few changes which I will put in point form below, which you can read about in full at the bottom of this post.

  • Team Collaboration
  • Organizational Content Packs
  • Free Trial for Power BI Pro
  • Bring While Excel File/s into Power BI
  • Upload CSV Content
  • Replace Excel, Power BI Desktop, and CSV Files into Power BI
  • Row-Level Security For On-Premises AS Tabular Model.

There is quite a bit of information above, and some of it is based around an organization and some of the updates are based for end users. But they are all amazing features and something that I can see being used on a daily basis.

I have to highlight importing Excel Files into Power BI from OneDrive. This is another great feature, the reason for this is that not everyone uses Power Pivot in Excel. A lot of people are used to using the Sheets within Excel and this is where their strengths are. So providing the ability for people to upload their Excel files and be able to consume it from within Excel and then visualize it is another avenue to show the value of the work and their data that they created!

You can read about it here: Power BI Weekly Service Update

Here is another screenshot of the Text Box from Jen Underwood (@idigdata)

Power BI – Limit of 10 Reports per Dataset

I came across the blog post by Adam W. Saxton which describes an error some users were getting when trying to save a report and getting the above error.

It appears that currently there is a limit of 10 reports per dataset. I personally think that this should be sufficient. Due to the fact that you can have multiple pages within each report. As well as if there is a requirement to create more than 10 reports, there must be a lot of data to visualize, and there could be the potential with all the reports for the impact of the visualizations to be lost with so many reports.

The one thing to note from the details below, is that it is for each dataset ONLY. If you create a new report on a different dataset, you then will be able to create another 10 reports!

As well as this applying to both the Free and Pro versions.

You can read about this limit here: Limit of 10 Reports per Dataset/Data Model

SQL Server 2016 CTP 2.2

Browsing through Twitter this morning I came across an update to SQL Server 2016, and there is an update with regards to CTP2.2

I quickly found the details on the SQL Server Blog, which I will post the link to afterwards. I had a quick read through to see if there was anything new relating specifically to BI.

I was happy to see that they included two new chart types. Namely Sunburst and Treemap. This lead me to quickly create a VM and see what they actually look like!

Unfortunately due to time constraints and not really knowing where to exploit the new chart types I could not actually see what they look like in Reporting Services.

There have also been some updates to MDS, which allows Compound Keys, SCD Type 2 and syncing an entity between models.

You can read all about it here: SQL Server 2016 Upgrade Advisor Preview and CTP 2.2 now available

 

BI-NSIGHT – Multiple Power BI Announcements – Cortana Analytics – Particle and Microsoft – Azure Data Catalog – Power Query Update

So the past week has been filled with a whole host of announcements, particularly in the Power BI space, but as well as with Microsoft’s cloud based solutions.

A lot of the information that I have found due to the current World Partner Conference!

So as we do every week, let’s get into the amazing details.

There is quite a bit of content this week, so please scroll down and then down again.

Multiple Power BI Announcements

So there was a whole stack of Power BI Announcements, which has been fantastic news for the BI community

Power BI General Availability – 24 July 2015

There has been a whole host of activity with regards to this fantastic news, as well as the blog post from Microsoft detailed below. So I will quickly give my personal view of this news.

I do think it is the perfect time for Microsoft to from a Preview product to General Availability (GA). It ties in with their release of Windows 10, and being summer in the United States I am sure it is an amazing time there. Also by Power BI coming out of Preview and into an actual product this gives it some additional credibility and traction within a very competitive market.

In terms of Power BI as a whole it has been a whole new way that Microsoft have released a product. Along with this they have actively engaged with the customers and end users and actually listened and often taken the advice from the community and put this into the product. I find this amazing and something that has not been done in the past. And this is where I feel going forward is where Microsoft will leap frog the other vendors.

I also think it is a VERY smart move to open the Visualizations and give the power to the developers. This will result in a massive increase in new charts that were previously never used or never thought of. And this all lends itself to people who want to implement their own charts to start looking at Power BI. Along with this it also continues with the Microsoft community, as I pretty sure without doubt that people will share their visualizations with each other. This means not only does Microsoft benefit, but also the customer or end user.

I might have totally misunderstood all the hype around the above, but I am sure somewhere that there was a hint that there might be a content pack for Twitter data. Now that would be something that would be amazing!

If you want to read about all the details and updates, please read their blog post: Announcing Power BI general availability coming July 24th

Power BI New Capabilities

Microsoft have been super busy and they have released a great blog about the new capabilities that have been released with the General Availability coming up on 24 July 2015

Below are the sections, and you can read the blog post afterwards for more details.

I would just like to highlight the Q&A Visual formatting. I think that this is another great feature. Due to allowing you to be able to format a Q&A question. And the reason that this works so well, is that you will have some questions that will be common amongst the business people. And in my mind you would want this to look really great. As well as potentially really POP when the question is asked. And this now gives the report developer the ability to do this.

  • Office 365 App Launcher
  • Custom URL Support
  • Storage Management
  • Q&A visual formatting

Read here for more details of the above: New capabilities added to Power BI

Power BI – Spark

Once again Microsoft have released another Content pack which I personally think keeps on elevating Microsoft in terms of competing with the likes of QlikView, Tableau etc.

By integrating directly with Spark on HDInsight it allows customers and end users to easily view their data that they have been processing within the Spark. In terms of Spark on HDInsight, that already has made the barrier of entry to use an appliance and software like Spark that much easier and quicker to deploy. Then along with this they plug this into Power BI, which then means that it is a great and powerful interface to visualize their machine learning algorithms and graph computations.

You can read more details here: Visualize big data with Power BI and Spark on Azure HDInsight

Power BI – Acumatica Content Pack

Here is another great content pack from Microsoft and Power BI.

Acumatica Cloud ERP is a cloud based platform that provides business management applications such Financials, Distribution, CRM and Project Accounting.

You can read more about it here: Analyze and Explore your Acumatica Cloud ERP data with Power BI

Power BI – Development of content pack for tyGraph

I read about tyGraph analytics getting a development pack for Power BI. This is really good news as it appears that tyGraph is used by a lot of customers. And by using Power BI it will enable the existing tyGraph customers to leverage Power BI for the reporting requirements.

You can read more about it here: tyGraph Analytics Is Announcing the Development of a Content Pack for Microsoft Power BI

Cortana Analytics

The Cortana Analytics Suite is once again why I really enjoy working within the Microsoft space. It appears to me that they are not only looking to create great cloud based products, but also innovate and create something that as a whole really makes sense for people to want to use and realize the potential of the data that they have, or data that they can create.

I really like the way they have integrated a whole host of applications, to make it easier and simpler for people to be able to use it as a product. And as with anything once you get to use a new product, get a better understanding of the product, you then want to be able to do more. And with Cortana Analytics Suite, they provide out of the box functionality, but going forward it also gives the customer or end user the functionality to dig in a whole lot deeper and create their own custom solutions.

I watched this video below and it is amazing to see how technology can enable people to make smart decisions which in turn makes us happier and healthier. In my view it also shows where this is going in the future. As well as how there are unbounding possibilities of how we can integrate things (IoT) and make quicker decisions than ever before.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock ushers in a new age of proactive, personalized healthcare using Cortana Analytics Suite – Watch the Video inspiring stuff

You can read more about Cortana Analytics here: Cortana Analytics

Particle and Microsoft

I think that this is another great partnership, especially the way we are starting to see the IoT happening and starting to gain some real traction. I also find that Particle is a great company that is enabling their customers to do things that previously were either too expensive to implement or were never thought about! And I am pretty sure further down the line, this will integrate with Power BI, or Particle will create an interface using the Power BI REST API.

You can read more about it here: Microsoft + Particle

Azure Data Catalog

This is another great cloud based product from Microsoft. The reason that I thought to put it in my blog, is that there are a lot of businesses that are looking to see how to manage their metadata catalog, as well as where the business information is stored. And this is where the Azure Data Catalog comes in.

This enables almost any business user to be able to put up some information about their data and where they got it from. As well as enriching their data source information with what they are doing with the actual data. This enables other people within the business to quickly identify where the actual source of their data is. I think that this will mean the more people that know where to get the data, the more the data will be used. Which in turn will lead to better insight into their data. Which will finally or potentially lead to business value!

You can read about it here: Announcing the Public Preview of Azure Data Catalog

Power Query Update

I just saw that there was another Power Query update for Excel.

There are a total of 6 updates listed below:

  • Improvements to ODBC Connector
  • Navigator dialog improvements
  • Option to enable Fast Data Load versus Background Data Load
  • Support for Salesforce Custom environments in Recent Sources list
  • Easier parsing of Date or Time values out of a Text column with Date/Time information
  • Unpivot Other Columns entry in column context menu

You can read about it here: 6 updates in Power Query for Excel

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI for Android Devices – Power BI Designer vs Excel – Power BI Refresh for On-Premise – Power BI Refresh from OneDrive – Power BI Interface Updates

Whilst I thought that this week might be a bit on the quiet side, I think that my previous suspicion is correct, and the wonderful people from Microsoft like to send out updates on a Wednesday.

Power BI for Android Devices

I was just browsing through twitter and I came across a tweet and clicked on the link, not entirely sure what it was about.

But it lead me to the Google Play store and I now could see the following below.


And here is the URL: Google Play Store – Microsoft Power BI

Power BI Designer vs Excel

I was reading another fantastic post by Rob Collie, where he gives some great insight for Power BI Designer vs Excel Where Rob mentions how Power BI can help out the Excel Pro’s, specifically in point number 7. What is assumed here by my interpretation is that in the future, Power BI Designer will be able to import a Power Pivot Model into Power BI Designer. I think that this would be fantastic as often I have created something in Excel, using Power Query and Power Pivot. And then a light goes off in my head, and I think this would be great to visualize in Power BI (Both for being in the cloud and mobile functionality). But when I have tried to import the Excel file, currently it only shows you any Excel tables. I do have a work around for getting your Power Pivot Model in Excel exposed within Power BI, which is the following and something that I have mentioned before. So here is the quick way to get this done.

  1. It is quite simple.
  2. All that you have to do is to create on Power View sheet within your Excel file, save your Excel file and then upload it into Power BI directly or via OneDrive.
  3. Once it opens and you go into creating your report, you will see the entire Power Pivot Model exposed!!

Give it a go, it is really quick and easy to setup. You can read Rob Collies post here: Power BI Designer vs. Excel: What’s Microsoft Up To?

Power BI Refresh for On-Premise

This is something that I have been waiting for as well as voted for some time ago. And it fills me with great pride to see this being implemented. It shows that the people at Microsoft are hearing our voices loud and clear. I have to say that this is going to be a real game changer in my opinion for the following reasons:

  • Firstly it is so simple to install and configure the Personal Gateway on your PC. Due to the installation being so simplistic, as well as not requiring Administrator privileges it means a lot more people will be able to install it and use the functionality.
  • Next is they have updated how often you can refresh your data.
    • The have chosen the magic number of 8.
    • Which to me represents your 8 hour working day.
    • Perfect to get hourly updates.
  • Integration with your domain account.
    • As we know a lot of sources integrate with your domain account, for single sign on, as well as easier controls on security.
  • Refresh history, and sending emails on failure.
    • This is another great feature that we are used to having, in terms of getting emails when things break.
    • I do like it, that it will only send you an email when it fails. So no need to clutter up your Inbox.

You can read in more detail here about all the details: Refresh for on-premises sources is here!

Power BI Refresh from OneDrive

This is something that I did figure out a while ago, which I did blog about previously. It entails using Power Update to update your Excel workbook for On-Premise, then Power Update uploading the updated workbook to OneDrive, after which Power BI will automatically update. You can read about it here: Automating refreshing of Power BI Reports and Dashboards with Excel Workbooks and Power Update It is great to officially have some more information. And a lot of companies are starting to use OneDrive as their document storage solution. So now we know that it will update your OneDrive files connected to Power BI once every hour. Which in most instances is pretty good? Another thing to note, is that from my workings with SharePoint online, it actually uses OneDrive to store all the documents. So if you have SharePoint online, you effectively have got OneDrive, which you can then connect to Power BI. (Disclaimer I am not 100% certain which subscription to SharePoint Online this is for.)

Power BI Interface Updates

From what I could see there are two additional updates within Power BI. The first is the change of the new Minty Fresh theme, which is good to see. I would not be surprised to see an option later to select your own themes as you can do with Power View in Excel. The second update is within the Dashboards in Power BI. When you click on the Tile Details button you now get an additional option as shown below You can now set a Custom Link, which I think is really great, because this could link to anything. Which gives the report developer more options, as well as allowing the Report Consumer to be able to interact with an additional dataset which is outside of the report.

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI Designer Refresh – SQL Plugin for Excel – SQL Server 2016 In Memory Tables – Azure SQL Data Warehouse – Office 2016 Update – Power BI Content Pack (UserVoice)

Another week has gone by, so let’s get into what is currently out there and happening in the BI world.

Power BI Designer Refresh

I do know that this came out last week, but I still wanted to comment on this.

Once again this is something that customers and myself have been waiting to be implemented and asked for on the forums.

For me personally this is really fantastic, because it gives me the opportunity to be able to get access to my data, shape it and then create my report interface using Power BI Designer. And through every iteration it is getting better, easier and smarter. And now with the ability to easily upload this into Power BI, and if you are using one of the supported data sources, it is simple as a few clicks in order to get the refresh up and running.

This really makes it easy for the people creating the reports, and with the future releases on the way, I personally see this becoming a valid competitor to the other visualisation tools that are currently out there.

You can read all about it here: Announcing Refresh Support for Power BI Designer files in the Power BI service

SQL Plugin for Excel

I came across this from reading through my twitter feeds.

I have to say that it does look very interesting. It appears that this can be used to pretty much have a SQL like interface when using Excel.

It also does appear that there is the potential to write data from your Excel workbook, back into SQL Server, via temp tables. This might be very handy, because I have had situations in the past where I have wanted to extract some data from a SQL database, in order for the users to make some changes. And then struggled to easily get the updated data back into my database. I could think of a method to be able to do this via the temp tables, and having a process to import the data from the temp tables into my database. Then once I have it in there, it would be easy to update the required changes!

More information here: thingiequery

SQL Server 2016 – In Memory Tables

Last week at the local (SSUG) SQL Server User Group, we were very fortunate to have some of the program managers from the SQL Server team present to us what is coming up in SQL Server 2016.

What I wanted to highlight is something that as far as I can see, so far has not really been highlighted.

It has to do with the In Memory tables in SQL Server 2016, and that Microsoft have almost resolved or allowed almost all of the query syntax is now available against In Memory tables. I do remember when I did try this before on SQL Server 2014 for my data warehousing loads, whilst there was not a big performance improvement, one of the issues was due to the fact, that there was a whole host of query syntax that I could not use.

Now with this almost having been resolved, as well as generally improving the In Memory tables, this is something that I am going to look at implementing where required in my data warehouse loads. Ideally I would imagine where there is a section of work, where it needs to be processed really quickly and having all the tables in memory means that this could potentially have a big performance improvement.

You can read about what is supported in SQL Server 2016 In Memory Tables here: Query Surface Area in Natively Compiled Stored Procedures

Azure SQL Data Warehouse

I am super excited about Microsoft starting to roll out the SQL Data warehouse preview in Azure.

I do think that this is something that is going to be a key driver for businesses to look at Microsoft for their cloud strategy going forward.

In the past few months, or closer on a year now, I have started to really enjoy how Microsoft has changed, and become a really forward thinking company, where they are listening to their customers and where they can taking the customers’ requirements and putting this into their products.

Along with this, especially in the cloud area, they are able to release and update their software at a pace that I have not seen ever. And when comparing it to other cloud vendors it is amazing how quickly they are able to do this. And for me as a consumer of these clouds services, and other services, it makes my work every interesting and keeps me on my toes!

I look forward to testing this out and see how it performs with my own data, when I can get access to it, and see if it lives up to all the hype!

You can read about it here: SQL Data Warehouse

Office 2016 Update

There is now an official blog update from Microsoft with regards to what they have done with Office 2016.

It is great to see what they showcased at Ignite to already be available for people to look at and test.

You can read more about it here: Office 2016 Preview—update 2

Power BI Content Pack – UserVoice

I am pretty certain that Microsoft is releasing a new content pack every week. When I log in and view what new blog posts are out there almost every week without fail there is another new content pack. Which is fantastic.

This week the content pack is for an application called UserVoice, which is allows it’s customers to provide feedback on their products. As well as for customers to share their experiences. And it looks like a really easy and simple interface to use. Which at the same time is very powerful.

You can find all the related information here: Monitor and Visualize your UserVoice Data with Power BI