Power BI Desktop/DAX – Using Unicode (Arrows) as Measures in a Table

I was helping out in the Power BI Community and I came across the following requirement.

The user had sales figures and based on the Previous month, they wanted to have an arrow showing if it was up or down. As well as if there was no data to say that there was no data. So this is how I achieved this below.

Creating a Date Table to make PREVIOUSMONTH DAX measure easy

The first thing that I did was to create a Date table and link this to my table above.

This ensured that when I wanted to create my PREVIOUSMONTH DAX measure it would be simple and easy.

I did it using my blog post: Power BI – How to Easily Create Dynamic Date Table/Dimension with Fiscal Attributes using Power Query

Once I had my Date Table I then created the relationship between my Sales Data table and my Date Table

Creating PREVIOUSMONTH DAX measure

Next I created my Previous Month measure with the following DAX Syntax

Previous Month Sales =
CALCULATE ( [Sales Amount], PREVIOUSMONTH ( 'Date'[Calendar Date] ) )

Getting the Unicode numbers for Arrows

Now in order to get the Unicode Characters I followed the very interesting blog post by Chris Webb: The DAX Unichar() Function And How To Use It In Measures For Data Visualisation, in which I learnt how to use Unicode Characters in a measure.

Next I found the following website which contained the Unicode numbers for my arrows I required.


I then made a note of the following ones that I wanted to use

Creating the Arrows measure

The final piece was where I created the Arrows measure.

Below is the DAX Syntax with an explanation afterwards

Arrows = SWITCH(
                ISBLANK([Previous Month Sales]),BLANK(),
                    || ISBLANK([Sales Amount]),BLANK(),
                [Sales Amount] <= 0, "No Data",
                [Sales Amount] >= [Previous Month Sales],UNICHAR(9650),
                [Sales Amount] <= [Previous Month Sales],UNICHAR(9660),

  • Due to having multiple conditions instead of having nested IF statements I found it easier to use the SWITCH DAX function.
  • I also know that with the SWITCH DAX function it evaluates from top to bottom.
    • So the first condition was to check for if the [Previous Month Sales] or the [Sales Amount] was blank meaning it was the start or end of the data to make it BLANK. It is highlighted in GREEN
      • This could be changed to anything value, but I prefer it being BLANK.
    • Next I put in a condition to see if the current Months [Sales Amount] is less than or equal to 0 to put in the value of “No Data” It is highlighted in PURPLE
    • Next is where I use the Unicode characters in my measure. Here I compare if the Sales for the [Sales Amount] is >= the [Previous Month Sales]and if it is then use the UP Arrow. This is highlighted in BLUE.
    • Next is where I use the Unicode characters in my measure. Here I compare if the Sales for the [Sales Amount] is <= the [Previous Month Sales], and if it is then use the DOWN Arrow. This is highlighted in ORANGE.
    • And then finally if none of the above conditions are met then make the value BLANK

Table Output

Below is the outputted table, which is doing as what was required.


As you can see from above being able to make sure of the Unicode Characters can make your dataset that much easier to read.

You can view it here: PBI – Unicode Measures

You can download the Sample File here: PBI – Unicode Measures.pbix

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Data Connector SDK, Analytics Challenge, April Service Content Packs, ArcGIS May Update) – Azure (SSAS Model into Azure

After all the announcements last week here are this week’s updates.

Power BI – Data Connector SDK

I know that this has been something that I have seen asked on the Power BI Community, as well as thought about in terms of having the capability to create your own Custom Data Connector in Power BI.

Don’t get me wrong they have supplied a vast array of connectors already. But by creating the SDK this means that now virtually ANY data, or even potentially anything could be integrated into Power BI. I saw a tweet from Kasper mentioning a data connector for Strava (Which I use a lot for my exercising, as well as having a wealth of data).

You can find all the details here: Data Connector SDK Developer Preview

Power BI – Analytics Challenge

With the Microsoft Data Insights summit coming up they have created an Analytics challenge in three area’s.

Complex Data Preparation, Advanced Analytics and Just for Fun.

It will be really interesting to see what people can do, I am hopeful that I will submit something.

Here are the details: Announcing the Microsoft Data Insights Summit Analytics Challenge

Power BI – April Service Content Packs

There is a new feature from the Power BI Team which as you can see above is to give more details around what are the new Service Content Packs for each month. So as you can see there are quite a few new service content packs for April 2017.

You can read the blog post here if any of the above interest you: Power BI April Service Content Packs

Power BI – ArcGIS May Update

As you can see from above the people from ArcGIS are now updating it on a nearly monthly cadence.

In this month’s updates you now can use Drive Time Area’s, as well as Tooltip fields and a host of bug fixes.

You can find the blog post details here: What’s New in ArcGIS Maps for Power BI (May 2017)

Azure – Getting your SSAS Model into Azure

This is a great blog post by Kasper De Jonge where he shows you how to get your SSAS Tabular model into Azure.

You can find more details here: Getting your on premises SSAS Tabular model to Azure

Power BI – Configuring SharePoint/Folder refreshing using On-Premise Gateway

I had a requirement to connect and refresh their files stored in SharePoint On-Premise using the On-Premise Gateway. And are the steps that you can follow in order to connect to files stored within SharePoint On-Premise or files stored in Folders.

In my working example below I am going to connect to a SharePoint Folder. You can apply the same steps for a Folder as well.

How to find the SharePoint Folder for Windows Explorer

I am not sure if people are aware, but you can actually connect to SharePoint Files and Folders using your Windows Explorer. The trick I am going to show below is how to find the correct URL.

Typically when files are stored within SharePoint the SharePoint Administrator will create a document library. If you cannot see the details below please confirm with your SharePoint Administrator that where you are looking is indeed a Document Library.

NOTE: For this to work you HAVE to use Internet Explorer

  • I went to the location where I had my files stored.
  • Then in the ribbon on the top I clicked on LIBRARY
  • Now if you look across the ribbon, under the section Connect & Export there will be a button which says Open with Explorer, click on this.
  • This will then open in Windows Explorer
  • Now if you look above you will see that the notation is a web based notation.
  • All that you now need to do is to change this to use a UNC notation.
  • So with my example I changed it to the following.
    • So my UNC was:
      • \\SP_Corp.domain.com\business\fg-bi-hub\Program Dashboards
    • If you see above I have changed it from the https:// to the double backslash \\
    • And then I have changed it from the forward slash / to the backslash \
  • Now you have the folder location of where your files are stored.

Connecting to your files using Power BI Desktop

In the steps below I will demonstrate how I connected to my files using Power BI Desktop.

The steps below are critical if you want to ensure that the On-Premise Gateway
refresh will work later.

  • I opened my Power BI Desktop file and clicked on Get Data
  • Now the critical part
    is right at the start, because in order for this to work I HAD to select Folder
    as shown below.
    • NOTE: If I did not select Folder (I did not with my initial testing) then when it comes to the refreshing I got an error which I will explain later. (Related to the Gateway setup for the Data Source)
    • I clicked on Connect
  • Next I then selected my folder as with my example above.
    • \\SP_Corp.domain.com\business\fg-bi-hub\Program Dashboards
    • Then I clicked OK.
    • If I did not put in the UNC Folder Path, I got the following error
  • When the window opened I clicked on the Edit button
    • The reason that I did this is because I still wanted to select my individual file from within the folder.
  • This then opened the Query Editor.
  • What I did next was to select the file that I wanted, in my example it is the file called Calculated Columns Data.xlsx
    • I did this by right clicking on the file in the Name Column and selecting
      Text Filters and then Equals
    • This then filtered my Folder to only show the file that I wanted.
  • Next I clicked on the Combined Files Button
    • This then opens the Combined Files Window.
  • As with my example I selected the Table that contained the data I required. I selected Table1
    • Then clicked OK.
  • Once loaded I then got my data loaded into my Table in the Query Editor
  • Now I modified my table and did what I required to get it into the required format.
    • NOTE: For those interested what I found was key to making sure the refresh work was by going into the Advanced Editor and looking at how the data was imported.
    • It is that it has to have Folder.Files, if it is anything else then the refresh in the On-Premise Gateway in the Power BI Service WILL fail.
  • I then clicked Close & Apply to load this to my Power BI Desktop Model.
  • I then created a table so that I can see my required data.
  • I then uploaded this to the Power BI Service.

Creating the Data Source in the Gateway on the Power BI Service

Next I had to create the related Data Source in the Gateway section of the Power BI Service.

NOTE: You need to be an Admin in the Power BI Service to complete the steps below, if you are not, then ask your Admin to configure the steps below.

NOTE II: I had already installed and configured the On-Premise Gateway within the domain I am working in. You can reference this installation
guide: On-premises data gateway

  • I logged into the Power BI Service and then clicked on Manage Gateways
  • I then clicked on Add Data Source
  • Next I added my Data Source with the details of my example below.
    • As you can see I had to choose the Data Source Type as a Folder.
    • This is so that the connection will be made from my Power BI uploaded Dataset with the Gateway in the Power BI Service.
    • I had to also ensure that the Windows Username and Password that I used in this Data Source, also had the correct permissions in the SharePoint Document Library.
      • In the Organization I was consulting, they had the following user setup in the SharePoint document library
      • This is the same Windows username and password that I used to configure the Data Source.
    • I then clicked Add
  • Now the Gateway configuration is complete.

Connecting my dataset to the Gateway in the Power BI Service

The final step I did was to connect my dataset to the Gateway in the Power BI Service and make sure that it refreshes.

  • I went into the Power BI Service.
  • Then clicked on Settings and selected Settings
  • Then I clicked on Datasets
  • I then went to my dataset that I had previously uploaded, where I wanted to connect to it using the Gateway connection.
    • I then expanded the Gateway connection
    • Now I had the option to Use a data gateway
    • And in here I selected my Gateway that I had previously configured.
    • I then clicked Apply.
  • I got the following confirmation.
  • Then the final step was to test that it was all working and I did this by going into the Datasets and clicking Refresh now
  • Once that had completed I went back into Settings, then
    Datasets and clicked on my dataset.
    • Then at the top I clicked on Refresh History

Error – Could not find the file

What happened is previously I had not configured everything as per my steps above so I got the following error below when trying to refresh.

As in the past the error messages can be a bit cryptic. But what I learnt was that for this particular dataset that I was using I was NOT connecting use the Folder.Files, but rather the File.Contents

And now looking at the above it became clearer to me as to why it was failing.

The issue is that when I added the Data Source for the Gateway in the Power BI Service, I was selecting the Folder as a Source, but in my Power BI Desktop connection I was connecting use a File and NOT a Folder.

As soon as I changed the above to a Folder the refresh worked.


What I have demonstrated in the steps above is how to connect to files
stored in SharePoint or in a Folder. As well as how to resolve if you get an error.

If you have any comments or suggestions please leave them in the area below.

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Premium, May Desktop Update, New Pricing 01 Jun 2017, Pride 2017, Azure Consumption Insights Content Pack)

I always anticipate that the start of each month will be busy with the updates to Power BI, but this month is an exception with not only the release of the May Power BI Desktop Update, but also a new pricing and capacity model with regards to Power BI Premium. So let’s get into it shall we.

Power BI – Power BI Premium

With the update to now having Power BI Premium coming on 01 June 2017, this means that there is a whole host of changes, updates and additions that have happened with regards to the Power BI Service.

I am going to highlight below what I think is most relevant, and provide links further below if you want to go into more details.

Power BI Premium Overview

What Power BI Premium is in one sentence is the capability to license for capacity instead of per user.

What this means that in the past if you had 5000 users you would have to pay and license each user. With the Premium model you now can pay for a dedicated capacity and have 5000 users for a much lower price, or even lower depending on your specific requirements. What this means is that you now can get a more cost effective, as well as dedicated offering from Microsoft Power BI.

Below is a simple Infographic in terms of what will be available at Launch and what is planned in the future.

Here is the Cost Calculator that you can use to determine which pricing model will be the most cost effective.

Power BI Premium calculator

Power BI Report Server

There is also the option to install Power BI Report Server on premise so that you can leverage Power BI on your own premises when there is the requirement. You can view the link here for more details.

Power BI Report Server

Power BI Apps

There is also an announcement that they have evolved the content packs to now be called Power BI Apps.

With the advent of Apps you now can also create and develop them and add users and admins at a later time.

Along with this there will no longer be the requirement to leverage Office 365 Groups. Which makes it less reliant on Exchange for Office 365.

When you create an app you will also have the capability to be able to push it not only in the web but also to iOS, Android or Windows devices.

They have also outlined in their blog post the roadmap going forward.

And here is the link to their blog post: Distribute to large audiences with Power BI apps

One final thing to note is that the licensing for the Free model has added additional capabilities but the one BIG takeaway is that you will NO longer be able to Share your data with other users. As an initial workaround you can sign up for the Pro trial which will give you the required sharing functionality.

You can find the blog post details here: Microsoft accelerates modern BI adoption with Power BI Premium

Power BI – May Desktop Update

Along with all the other announcements there also has been the May Power BI Desktop Update. And below I will highlight some of the changes.

Report View

The relative date slicers is a very welcome addition as I have had instances in the past where I have wanted to keep data relative and it did take some creative thinking to achieve this. Which now can very easily be done with the relative date slicer.

It also good to see that they have ported over the functionality from the Matrix Preview into the Table Preview. Having very similar capabilities and a very welcome update.

The combo chart label enhancements are another small but important update, having worked with combo charts in the past, it makes it a lot easier to see the data label information.

Also having additional URL support is great as you can see above, as often it is not only web links that need to be linked.


The biggest update in the May release is the capability to be able to create Report Level measures for Live connections to SSAS (Analysis Services Tabular) and Power BI Service datasets.

This is something that the community has been asking for a long time, and enables the report developers to further enrich the report model.

They have also added to new Quick Measures to make the total count of Quick Measures now 21

Data Connectivity

A new connector for Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights.

As well as the option when importing data from a folder to select the First File (So that you do not have to select it every time). But you still have the option to select the file from the drop down if required.

Query Editor

They have added 3 new transformations for Text Before, After or Between delimiter. So this can make it easier to get data that is in a specific delimiter format.

The final update is the ability to Unpivot Only Select Columns, what this does is it will ONLY unpivot the columns that you have selected. Even if more columns come into your table, it will only unpivot the columns you had selected initially.

You can find the entire blog post details here: Power BI Desktop May Feature Summary

Power BI – New Pricing June 2017

Below is the new pricing model for the different levels in Power BI from 01 June 2017

Power BI – Pride 2017

With this years Microsoft Data Insights Summit happening really soon, there is a call for people from the Power BI Community to show their pride with Power BI.

As you can see from the image above, those are the top 10 features, as voted by the community that they want you to use in your pride video.

You can find the blog post details here: Power BI Pride 2017: share your pride with the world!

Power BI – Azure Consumption Insights Content Pack

There is a new content pack available in which you can now use to view your Azure Consumption.

You can find more details here: New Power BI content pack for Azure Enterprise users

What makes up a Power BI Desktop PBIX File

I know that I personally have been interested in what makes up a PBIX file and in this blog post below I will explain from my understanding what are the different parts that make up the PBIX file. It is rather interesting in that it is actually made up of a few different aspects.

How to view the contents of a PBIX file

The starting place, as well as a question some people might have, is how do you view or know what the contents of the PBIX file are?

From my understanding the PBIX file is loosely based on the XLSX file, in that there is a very simple way to see the underlying contents.

So in order to view the contents of a PBIX file you can do the following below.

  • Either right click on the PBIX file and select Rename, or double click the File to get the option to rename.
  • Then rename the file from the extension of PBIX to ZIP
  • You will get prompted with the following Window asking “Are you sure you want to change it?”
    • Click Yes
  • So now the file will have the ZIP extension

Now if you double click the ZIP file you will see all the contents, which I will go through the known contents in this blog post. How awesome is that?

Report Folder

The report folder contains the following 2 files below.

The Layout file contains all the information with regards to the Report Layout. Which is essentially the report sheets, as well as the placement of the visuals and all of their related properties.

This is a snippet of what the contents of the file looks like below, and as you can see it stores a lot of information that is not very friendly to read.

The LignuisticSchema file appears to hold the contents for the Sheet names if you rename them from the defaultPage 1

As you can see above I renamed a sheet to “Item count on Slicer” and when I open the LignuisticSchema file I see the following below.

[Content_Types].xml File

This XML file contains all the content within the PBIX file

DataMashup File

The DataMashup file contains all of your Query Editor information.

From my understanding it contains all of the following.

  • Connection Details to your Source Data
  • File Names or database names
  • All the Table information
    • Within each table it also contains all the steps

As you can see below here is a snippet from the DataMashup file and in the content
highlighted below it is where it has a step called “Calculated Week of Month

And here is the identical step in the Query Editor.

With the same syntax from the Query Editor.

It is important to note that you can actually copy the DataMashup file and send it to someone who is working with the same data, and get them to replace it with your copy. This will mean that they now have got all the Query Editor information in their
Power BI Desktop file.

DataModel File

The DataModel file is the file that actually stores all of your data in a highly compressed format.

Essentially this is your Power BI In-Memory Analysis Services model. As you can see below it has some detail information and then the stored data. This is where I think to myself a lot of the Power BI Magic happens because it is where the blazing fast query performance comes from.

The size of this file also is an indication of how much memory your Power BI Desktop file will consume.

As with my example the file size is 486KB, which once again shows how good the Vertipaq Compression Engine is.

If you are interested there is a great book which goes into much more details around the Vertipaq engine, in which you can read a snippet in terms of how the Vertipaq engine works here: The VertiPaq Engine in DAX

And I would suggest getting a copy of the book if you are interested in the finer details.

DiagramState File

The DiagramState file appears to store the information for the Table and Matrix locations, but not for the Matrix Preview from what I can gather.


It would appear that the Metadata file contains all the names with regards to what you see when in the Report View.

As you can see below from my Metadata file I have highlighted the Table names in Green below. I have modified the source data so that it is easier to read.

And highlighted the Parameter Names in highlighted the Table names in GREY below.

Here is a list of my tables

Here is the list of my Parameters

SecurityBindings, Settings & Version Files

When I opened up the files SecuritySettings, Settings and Version they appeared to not have any meaningful content or details to talk about. Possibly someone else might have some input as to what these files are responsible for.


I do hope that having a look at the contents that make up the PBIX file has provided a bit more insight as to how a PBIX file works and pieces together.

NOTE: You can rename the file from a ZIP back to a PBIX to get back to your original file and open it again with Power BI Desktop.

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Meet 1:1 with Microsoft Expert – May & June Webinars, Sample files as PBIX, Quick Measures Gallery, Mobile App Update – April)

Here are this week’s updates, with May starting next week I am looking forward to some interesting updates with regards to Power BI.

Power BI – Meet 1:1 with Microsoft Expert

If you are attending the Microsoft Data Insights Summit you now have the opportunity to have a 1:1 session with a Microsoft Engineer for 15 minutes. If I was attending this is something that I would have already signed up to before blogging.

You can find the details here: Meet 1:1 with a Microsoft expert at Microsoft Data Insights Summit – book your appointment today!

Power BI – May & June Webinars

As you can see below here are the May & June Power BI Webinars

You can find all the details for the Webinars here: May and June Webinars: Power BI Security, Best Practices from the Microsoft Operations Team, Power BI Embedded, Marco Russo on Design and more!

Power BI – Download Samples as PBIX Files

I have to say that in the past when I was using the Power BI Sample data, I did wonder why there were not any sample PBIX files.

Now they have created and enabled the downloading of the PBIX files in the link below.

The Power BI samples as .pbix files

Power BI – Quick Measures Gallery

After the success and implementation of the Quick Measures in Power BI Desktop there now is the Quick Measures Gallery.

In this gallery you can now submit what you would like to see added to the future Quick Measures in Power BI. I think that this is a great initiative, because it not only allows people to have their own measures featured in the Power BI Desktop, but it also allows people to view the Gallery, view the measures and use them for their own requirements.

You can find the blog post here: Introducing the Quick Measures Gallery

Power BI – Mobile App Update April

In this month’s Mobile App update they have released to all the platforms the capability to be able to have the background colour. As well as a lot of bug improvements and performance fixes.

Also in the blog post they did mention the option to develop custom visuals for Mobile phones. Which I thought was quite interesting.

You can view the blog post here: Power BI Mobile apps feature summary – April 2017

Power BI – On-Premise Gateway Configuration steps to an Oracle Database

I was recently working in an environment where the requirement was to connect to an Oracle database using the On-Premise Gateway, so that we could either DirectQuery or import the data and then refresh it using the On-Premise Gateway. So the steps below detail how to complete this successfully.

The example below was connecting to an Oracle databased called TRID

Downloading and installing Oracle Data Access Components (ODAC)

The installation of the ODAC is fairly straight forward and already has been very well documented in the Power BI website.

You can view the link below in order to download and install the correct ODAC version for your Power BI Desktop Installation.

Connect to an Oracle database

NOTE: Part of the installation is that you will need to setup and configure your tnsnames.ora file in order to successfully connect to the Oracle Database.

Configuration of tnsnames.ora

These steps below were configured by the Oracle DBA where I am currently working, I thought I would highlight what needs to be configured below in order to successfully connect to the Oracle Database.

I found this out when trying to connect to the Oracle database and it appears that this is what is required to ensure that I could connect successfully.

Below is a working version of my tnsnames.ora file


The important things that I needed to have configured were the following:

  • The first part is the name which is highlighted in GREEN above with my server called TRID
  • The other important part is to ensure that you have got the SERVICE_NAME
    configured and resolves back to the actual server with the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) highlighted in PURPLE.
    • As with my above example this was SERVICE_NAME=trid.domain.com.au

Setting the connection to the Oracle database in Power BI Desktop

The next step was for me to set up or create the connection to my Oracle Database.

NOTE: In my example below we connected using a database user and password and not integrated Windows Authentication.

  • I clicked on Get Data and then selected Oracle database
  • Then I clicked Connect.
  • NOTE: In my instance I got the following window shown, which explains that I have an older version of ODAC, I clicked Ok to continue
  • On the Oracle database window it now prompted me for the Server and if I am going to use the Import or DirectQuery Data Connectivity mode, as well as additional advanced options.
    • In my example I simply put in the Server Name and left it defaulted to Import
    • I then clicked Ok
  • The first time I connected it prompted me for the Security Connection details.
    • As mentioned before I used the Database security connection details
    • I then clicked Connect.
  • This then brought up the Navigator, which from then I could then connect to my required tables.
  • And then loaded the data into my data model and completed my Power BI Desktop File.
  • Once I had completed my Power BI Desktop file I then uploaded it into the Power BI Service.

Configuration of the Power BI Service Gateway

In the steps below I now will show how I created and configured the Gateway to connect to the Oracle database.

NOTE: I had already installed and configured the On-Premise Gateway within the domain I am working in. You can reference this installation guide: On-premises data gateway

  • I logged into the Power BI Service and then clicked on Manage Gateways
  • I then clicked on Add Data Source
  • Now this is one of the MOST IMPORTANT configuration steps when I was configuring the Data Source Name
    • This Data Source Name MUST be identical to the Server Name I created in my Power BI Desktop File Data Source Connection.
    • As I did previously I used the Oracle Server name TRID
    • So now when I created my new Data Source I configured it with the following below, again NOTING that the Data Source Name is identical to my Power BI Desktop File Server Name as highlighted below.
    • Then I clicked Apply.
    • And as you can see above it says Connection Successful which means that my Gateway successfully connected to the Oracle database.
  • The final step that I did was to give the required users access to the Gateway
    • NOTE: You must add the users in here that you want to be able to connect to the Gateway Data Source and configure the data refresh.

Configuring the dataset to use the Gateway connection

The final step that I had to complete was to configure my dataset to use the Gateway connection.

  • I went into the Power BI Service.
  • Then clicked on Settings and selected Settings
  • Then I clicked on Datasets
  • I then went to my dataset that I had previously uploaded, where I wanted to connect to it using the Gateway connection.
    • I then expanded the Gateway connection
    • Now I had the option to Use a data gateway
    • And in here I selected my Gateway that I had previously configured.
    • I then clicked Apply.
  • Then the final step was to test that it was all working and I did this by going into the Datasets and clicking Refresh now
  • Once that had completed I went back into Settings, then Datasets and clicked on my dataset.
    • Then at the top I clicked on Refresh History
    • And then I could view that my refresh completed successfully.

This will hopefully guide you to get your Oracle connected with the On-Premise Gateway.

Another quick note is that the steps when connecting to a SQL Server are very similar, especially the steps in the Power BI Service.

Any comments or suggestions are welcome and please leave them in the section below.

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Community Blog Highlights – Power BI Germany – Latest Updates for Power BI Desktop – How Microsoft uses Power BI to run its Cloud Business – Connecting Datasets to Power BI Service) – SQL Saturday Brisbane (I’m presenting) – SQL Server (SQL Server 2017 – DAX Editor for SSDT – New Get Data Experience for SSDT)

I thought that this might be a quieter week, but once again there are a whole host of updates from Power BI updates, to SQL Server 2017 announcements. Quite a bit to read through so I hope you enjoy it.

Power BI – Community Blog Highlights

I actively participate in the Power BI Community, as well as when I feel like I have something meaningful that will also contribute to the Power BI Community get it published onto the Power BI Community Blog. And in this month’s highlights I am thrilled to have my latest blog post as part of the highlight.

The other posts are below:

Power BI – Infographic for Power BI from an end to end perspective, by Gilbert Quevauvilliers

Design Pattern – Groups and Super Groups!, by Greg Deckler

Get Your Own Power Query Editor using Notepad++, by Lars Schreiber

What I Learnt Building Power BI Custom Visuals, by Chamara Ranasinghe

A Simple and Fun Guide to Microsoft Flow and Power BI, by Ruth Pozuelo

The Ultimate Waterfall Chart , by Klaus Birringer

Power BI – Germany

I know from personal experience that having your data reside in the same country you are working from means a much easier and broader adoption of Power BI. Now for people living in Germany they are able to fully comply with all the requirements in terms of having data hosted within Power BI.

As a side note I also saw that Microsoft is the first company to offer a data centre in South Korea which is great to see.

You can find the blog post details here: Experience your data with Power BI Germany and meet your compliance and regulatory needs

Power BI – Latest Updates for Power BI Desktop

I recently came across this link below, which always will point to the latest details with regards to the Power BI Desktop.

I would suggest bookmarking this page, to ensure you always have the latest information available.


Power BI – How Microsoft uses Power BI to run its Cloud Business

This is a really interesting blog post where they details how Microsoft uses Power BI to monitor Power BI as well as all the other BI components that fall under James Phillips. What amazes me is that for each of the KPIs shown in the screen there is a General Manager responsible for that particular product.

What this also shows is how to build an effective KPI dashboard which is easy to view and know when something is not going as it should.

You can find the interesting read here: How Microsoft uses Power BI to run its growing cloud business

Power BI – Connecting to the dataset in the Power BI Service

In this blog post from the Power BI team they go into some details around how and why you would want to use the Power BI Dataset in the Power BI Service.

One thing that I found interesting and I guess I had never thought of is that you can now connect to ANY dataset that has been published to the Power BI Service. This includes datasets from Curated Content Packs which makes the development experience that much easier.

You can find the details here: Connecting to datasets in the Power BI service from Desktop

SQL Saturday Brisbane – I’m Presenting on Power BI Real World Tips and Tricks

I am so excited that I will presenting for the first time at SQL Saturday Brisbane on Saturday 27 May 2017.

The session details are Power BI Real world tips and tricks. Below is the session excerpt:

Out in the real world, people are starting to use Power BI to gain insights into their data that were previously never seen. With Gilbert currently working full time in Power BI projects, he has first hand experience on how to leverage Power BI in work place.

By providing real world, real working examples I plan to show how some simple tips and tricks can make their reports and dashboards amazing and insightful. This will be an interactive and demo rich presentation.

The real world tips will cover the following sections of Power BI:

  • Query Editor
  • DAX
  • Visuals
  • Power BI Service

You can register for SQL Saturday here: SQL Saturday Brisbane – 27 May 2017

SQL Server – SQL Server 2017

I personally think that with the release date of SQL Server 2017, that Microsoft is looking to continue what it has been doing with the combination of experience with Power BI and deploying updates to Azure SQL Server.

This is allowing them to deploy and implement changes to SQL Server in at a faster pace. I do also personally think that with the deployment and testing with Azure, they can test real world scenario’s with a diverse environment to make sure that it works as expected. This allows them to then take all these learnings and put it into an On-Premise Solution.

You can find the details here: SQL Server 2017

SQL Server – DAX Editor for SSDT

It was just a matter of time before the DAX editor became part of SSDT (SQL Server Data Tools) and now it is finally here.

This will no doubt make the creation and editing of measures and calculated columns a lot easier and quicker to develop.

They are planning to have Intellisense as well as Code Formatting in future releases

You can find the details here: Introducing a DAX Editor Tool Window for SSDT Tabular

SQL Server – What’s new in SQL Server 2017 for Analysis Services

As you can see above there have been a whole host of enhancements for Analysis Services in SQL Server 2017.

The new Object-Level Security to secure more data looks really interesting in that you can now also secure it on a column level. As well as performance improvements for the developer experience, which I personally know in the past at times was particularly slow.

Along with improvements to the DMV’s, similar Date Hierarchy implementations that are currently in Power BI.

As well as other improvements you can read about here: What’s new in SQL Server 2017 CTP 2.0 for Analysis Services

Server – New Get Data Experience

With the new release of SSDT they have updated the Get Data Experience for SSAS models with level 1400.

It appears that they are looking to align with what is currently being implemented in Power BI, which is fantastic to see because it will mean a more consistent developer experience.

They are continuing to add more data sources with each release.

You can find all the details here: New Get Data Capabilities in the GA Release of SSDT Tabular 17.0 (April 2017)

Power BI Dataset tips and potential pitfalls

There has been a lot of hype around the new feature in the Power BI Service where you can connect directly to the Dataset in the Power BI Service

There have also been quite a few blog posts on how to connect and leverage the datasets in the Power BI Service, what I am going to focus on is around the tips and potential pitfalls to be aware of when using the dataset in the Power BI Service, which could make this experience as efficient and beneficial as possible.

Quick Overview of the Power BI Dataset

In my opinion the Power BI Dataset is very similar to SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular Models. Which I have been fortunate to having worked with the Tabular Models for quite some time.

This is due to the fact that you first have to first plan and look at all the requirements
before building your Tabular Model or in this instance the Power BI Dataset.

Without having a solid plan in terms of your fact tables, dimension tables, column names, measure names, hierarchies this could result in having to change the Dataset, which in turn could lead to reports failing or ceasing to operate due to changes being made.

Tip – Changing dataset columns or measures

One of the biggest things that I experienced in the past was when there was a change to the dataset columns or measures. This would result in the report failing to load or the particular visual failing to load.

In the steps below I will show what this looks like when it fails and then how to resolve the issue.

What happens when the dataset column or measure changes

What I have done is uploaded a Power BI Desktop file to the Power BI Service and gave it the name of DATASET – Data Gateway Refresh. This is so that I know that this is my Dataset that I want to connect to and work with.

I have then connected a new Power BI Desktop file to my Power BI Dataset to DATASET – Data Gateway Refresh as shown below.

I then created a simple report and uploaded it into the Power BI Service as shown below called Data Gateway Report

As you can see from above I have used a measure called [Total Value] and a column from my Date table called “Calendar Year“. As well as the overall Total Value which also uses the [Total Value] measure.

Now as explained previously if I was required to change the measure from [Total Value] to [Total] and I did this in my Power BI Dataset Model and upload the changes to the Power BI Service.

So in my Power BI Dataset Model I changed the following as shown below:

To the new measure called [Total]

I then uploaded this to the Power BI Service. I did get prompted to replace the existing dataset to which I clicked in Replace.

I then went into my report previously created Data Gateway Report from the DATASET – Data Gateway Refresh, and clicked on Refresh, and what I got was shown below.

When I clicked on See details I got the following as shown below.

The error description I must say is a lot better than it used to be in the SSAS Tabular Models. As you can see from above it is referring to a field that needs to be fixed. Along with that it is giving you the field name that it no longer can find. And with my example this is called [Total Value].

How to resolve or fix a column or measure name change

The first option to resolve this issue is I went back to my Power BI Dataset and renamed the measure or column to what it previously was.

As with our example I then go back to my Power BI Desktop file where I have the dataset and rename it back from [Total] to [Total Value].

I then re-published the dataset to the Power BI Service.

I then once again go back to my report previously created Data Gateway Report from the DATASET – Data Gateway Refresh, and clicked on Refresh, and what I got was shown below.

This is by far the quickest and easiest way to resolve the issue.

The second and more timely and longer solution is if for some reason you must keep the new measure or column name (could be something as simple as a typo) then what you will have to do is to then re-create the reports again. This can be rather time consuming but I have experienced this in the past and have had to rebuild the reports.

Pitfall – Deleting dataset

A potential pitfall is if I decided for some reason that I needed to delete the dataset. Possibly because there is a requirement for it to be renamed something else, or for some other valid reason.

The pitfall is what when I deleted the associated dataset it not only deletes that dataset, but also the existing reports and dashboard tiles that are connected to that dataset.

As with my example, below you can see the existing Dataset and the report that it connects to using the new feature in the Power BI Service called View Related, which shows us all the related content to the DATASET – Data Gateway Refresh

Now when I go and delete the Power BI Dataset called DATASET – Data Gateway Refresh, I do get prompted with the following shown below.

I have highlighted that it does indicate that it will delete all reports and dashboard tiles.

Once I have clicked Delete, not only does it delete the dataset but also my report previously created call “Data Gateway Report”

How to resolve a deleted Dataset

This could result in a potential issue where users of the existing report can no longer access or view the report. A workaround that I would do is to re-upload the dataset, as well as I would re-upload the Power BI Desktop file which contained the report that connected to the dataset. (As there should always be the original Power BI Desktop file for the Dataset and the Report)


Whilst the new Power BI Service dataset is a great new feature. As well as improve over time. It is also important to know what tips and pitfalls could make this experience as efficient and beneficial as possible.

I would be interested to hear if anyone else has any tips or pitfalls when using the Power BI Datasets?

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Service March Update – New Navigation Experience, Desktop Terms & Definitions – Whitepapers) – BI Survey (BARC BI Survey 2017) – Excel – (Get & Transform Updates for April 2017)

There has been a variety of updates and blog posts in the past week, so here are my BI updates.

Power BI – Service March Update

There were quite a few service updates for March within the Power BI Service.

The first was the granular controls which was a very welcome feature. And I know that something that a lot of companies have been asking for. (As well as where I am currently consulting)

Another great new feature was the capability to view related content. This gives the user the ability to see how their content is related, as well as to quickly go into additional items from the view related content.

There was also an improvement for the troubleshooting for DAX queries, which helps with the diagnosis of errors or issues.

Then there was the custom scheduled cache refresh which is really handy in terms of how to handle this for DirectQuery sources.

As well as the ability for Amazon Redshift, and finally the move of the Custom Visuals into the Office Store.

You can find the blog post here: Power BI Service March Feature Summary

Power BI – New Navigation Experience

I have enabled the preview features on Power BI for quite some time, and I have to say with each iteration it has gotten easier and better. The new navigation experience is awesome. And makes interacting with Power BI in the service a lot easier. This is especially true when you start to have multiple workspaces, compounded with multiple dashboards, reports, workbooks and datasets.

This new navigation experience makes it a lot simpler to use and navigate.

You can find the blog post details here: Get ready for the new Power BI navigation experience

Power BI – Desktop Terms & Definitions

There is a really insightful blog post by Sam Lester from Microsoft where he goes into the terms and definitions when using Power BI Desktop.

If someone new is starting out in Power BI and using the Power BI Desktop this is a great place to start.

You can find Sam’s blog post here: Power BI Desktop – Terms and Definitions

Power BI – Whitepapers

There is now a central location for all the related whitepapers for Power BI.

This will be really handy because it will be easy to reference this for customers and clients going forward.

As well as I enjoy reading and learning from released whitepapers, so this means that I now have a central location for some great reading material.

Here is the link to where you can find the whitepapers: Whitepapers for Power BI

BI Survey

Every year I have been working in the Business Intelligence space I have been participating in the BARC BI Survey, and due to being a participant I get a copy of the results once completed. I find this invaluable to see what is happening in the BI space.

If you are interested please follow the link to complete the survey: BARC BI SURVEY 2017

Excel – Get & Transform Updates for April 2017

It is great to see the changes and updates that are made to Power BI filter down into the Excel Get & Transform.

In the April update they have included the following updates:

  • Support for the same file extensions in Text and CSV connectors.
  • ODBC and OLE DB connectors—support for Select Related Tables
  • Enhanced Folder connector—support for Combine Binaries from the Data Preview dialog
  • New Change Type Using Locale option in Column Type drop-down menu inside Query Editor
  • New Insert Step After option in the Steps pane inside Query Editor

You can read up about it here: April 2017 updates for Get & Transform in Excel 2016 and the Power Query add-in