NASCAR driver Kurt Busch’s BASIS Bio Stats

15 07 2014

I thought I’d share this visual from the folks to produce the BASIS Band fitness tracker (recently acquired by Intel).  I just ordered a BASIS Band for myself which is due to arrive from Amazon tomorrow.  I just spun up a new page on my blog to showcase data visualizations and this will be the first entry…

They strapped a band on Kurt Busch, aka The Outlaw, and monitored vital biometric stats during “The Double”, two back-to-back races on May 25th.  After monitoring nearly nine hours of sleep, Kurt raced the Indy 500 and then commuted by helicopter to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600.  As you can see, it was a full day and quite a ride – several, actually.

Nice application of a stacked column chart combined with marker line time-series charts with six series values and grouped call-out markers.



Kurt’s sleep patterns the night before race day


As I mentioned, this is featured on the new Visualizations page on my blog.  Please return for a collection of visualization examples and guidelines for using different tools, techniques and visual patterns.

Book Reviews – “Power Pivot Alchemy” & “Dashboarding and Reporting with Power Pivot and Excel”

1 07 2014

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There are two relatively new books on the market from Holy Macro! Books.  The first thing that I’ll point out is that this small publishing company is actually owned by one of the authors, which should tell you something about the ambition and caliber of the guys who are writing them.  I have several Power Pivot, DAX and dashboard design books on my shelves.  I’m very impressed with both of these books and they’ve made a valuable addition to my library.  Rather than a cursory introduction or restatement of product documentation, they both address real business problems and are based on a body of customer problems and field experience.  Now, I have to admit that I’m a little biased.  I know Rob Collie and Kasper de Jonge quite well from conferences and community involvement.  I’ve also met Bill a few times and know of his reputation in the industry as a tried and true Excel guru with an extensive library of books and training content.  Rob started his career at Microsoft on the Excel product team and the group that developed the Power Pivot technology.  He’s now a consultant and trainer, a Microsoft MVP and an active member of the online community.  Kasper’s background is the polar opposite of Rob’s; he started in the industry, doing consulting and project work and now works for Microsoft on the SQL Server Analysis team responsible for the ongoing development of this technology.  I didn’t realize this until reading their bios on the Rob’s PowerPivotPro site but Kasper actually filled the position at Microsoft vacated by Rob and from my perspective, that was a good transition and a continued partnership of experts who continue to give back to the community.  Kasper is also well-known in the industry for his online present, conference presentations and ongoing support of the MVP and professional community.  As far as I’m concerned, these two books could be bound together into a single volume that would be a comprehensive guide to Power Pivot design, problem solving and best practices.

In the past two years, I’ve spent a great deal of my consulting time developing SSAS Tabular models for clients.  I’ve also done a bit of work in Power Pivot but not nearly as much as the IT-centered version of the xVelocity in-memory aggregation engine from Microsoft.  So, why am I reviewing books about Power Pivot and not SSAS Tabular?  That’s simple: SSAS Tabular is the IT Pro extension of the Power Pivot foundation.  Last year, I reviewed Rob Collie’s book “DAX Formulas for PowerPivot: A Simple Guide to the Excel Revolution” and it just blew me away.  As a learning tool, I found the book to be golden for getting my head around all the basics of DAX even though the focus was on applying it to Power Pivot in Excel rather that Analysis Services.  This book is in the same relaxed, conversational voice that he is known for.

I have to admit that at first DAX was a big brick wall for me.  I’ve taught myself a lot of different languages and tools in my career just by being stubborn and persistent.  When I started using DAX I got the basics but more challenging problems were just insurmountable.  I hounded the known experts; Marco, Alberto, Chris, Darren, Rob and others who were gracious and patient but it took time for that light to turn on and to finally “get it”, or at least to get most of the important concepts.  If you’re like me, you’ll work on a problem obsessively, lose sleep, try to approach it from different angles and keep hacking at it until the answer comes.  Something I’ve learned the hard way about DAX is that it’s just not something you figure out on your own unless you’ve seen the solution demonstrated or solved similar problems before.

Three weeks ago, I started reading “Power Pivot Alchemy” which is also a book centered on using the Power Pivot Excel add-in.  This time, Rob teamed with Bill Jelen (aka “MrExcel”) who is very well-known in the Excel community for his teaching tools and books on just about every facet of Excel.  Rob and Bill are a good team which comes through the pages as two very experienced experts giving very qualified advice about solving pertinent problems rather than a typical “how to” or reference book.  The book is written in the same casual voice with a lot of personality and humor leading the narrative.  This is an excellent book for the moderate to advanced skilled Excel Analyst who needs to create advanced formulas and pivot tables with strong emphasis on best practices and targeted solutions.

I recently picked up Kasper’s book (take a breath before reading the title), “Dashboarding and Reporting with Power Pivot and Excel: How to Design and Create a Financial Dashboard with PowerPivot – End to End”, and I’m finding it to provide very targeted guidance about the best ways to design models, write formulas and reporting and create dashboarding solutions with all of the new integrated features in Excel and Power BI.  I think that Microsoft has generally done a good job of talking to their users and building products that solve real problems but there is a bit of Kool Aid drinking that goes on in Redmond.  This is especially true among the vast majority of Microsoft employees who spend all of their time on campus writing code and imagining how customers might use their products. In this book, the author demonstrates a perspective based on his community involvement and direct support of Microsoft and partner customers.  I know this because Kasper and I have actually worked together to solve some specific customer problems and his assistance as an advocate from the product team has been invaluable.  The techniques described in this book are concise and very real-world, ranging from beginner to advanced level without wasting the reader’s time with lengthy explanations.

Someone recently mentioned that I’ve only given positive book reviews on my blog.  I suppose I’m not much of a critic and frankly I just don’t have time to review bad books – and I’ve read – or started to read – several.  Occasionally someone I know or work with in the community will ask me to review a book and if I’m not impressed, I’ll respectfully decline.  The only thing even remotely critical I can say about the format of these books is that some of the graphics seem a bit oversized.  It makes me feel like I’m reading the large print edition of the book.  Granted, this is a very visual topic and I’d rather have oversized graphics than not enough. 

I’m giving both of these books four-and-a-half stars out of five.

Packt Publishing is Turning 10, Offering $10 Books

1 07 2014

Packt has come a long way in just ten years as a leading technical publisher.  I’ve had the pleasure of contributing to a few different books over the past year and Packt continues to expand their library of over 2,000 e-books, print books and on-demand training videos.

To celebrate their birthday, all e-book and videos are deeply discounted to $10 through July 5th, which is quite a deal!  To use this discount follow this link.

Here’s the press release:

Packt’s celebrates 10 years with a special $10 offer

This month marks 10 years since Packt Publishing embarked on its mission to deliver effective learning and information services to IT professionals. In that time it’s published over 2000 titles and helped projects become household names, awarding over $400,000 through its Open Source Project Royalty Scheme.

To celebrate this huge milestone, from June 26th Packt is offering all of its eBooks and Videos at just $10 each for 10 days – this promotion covers every title and customers can stock up on as many copies as they like until July 5th.

Dave Maclean, Managing Director explains ‘From our very first book published back in 2004, we’ve always focused on giving IT professionals the actionable knowledge they need to get the job done. As we look forward to the next 10 years, everything we do here at Packt will focus on helping those IT professionals, and the wider world, put software to work in innovative new ways.

We’re very excited to take our customers on this new journey with us, and we would like to thank them for coming this far with this special 10-day celebration, when we’ll be opening up our comprehensive range of titles for $10 each.

If you’ve already tried a Packt title in the past, you’ll know this is a great opportunity to explore what’s new and maintain your personal and professional development. If you’re new to Packt, then now is the time to try our extensive range – we’re confident that in our 2000+ titles you’ll find the knowledge you really need , whether that’s specific learning on an emerging technology or the key skills to keep you ahead of the competition in more established tech.’

On The Mend

22 06 2014

This is a just a quick post to explain why I haven’t posted for a while.  I was hospitalized week before last for an internal infection that resulted in a fairly extensive surgical procedure.  Believe me when I say that I had much better things planned for this summer.  Having some down-time, I was hopeful to do a little more writing but under medication, that didn’t seem like such a good idea.

Feeling better and making progress on recovery, I have a couple of posts in progress including a paper on establishing team member roles for BI projects.  That should be posted in the next day or two.

Thank you for reading and following this blog over the years and I promise some good content in the weeks and months to follow.

Thanks – Paul

PASS Business Analytics Conference Discount from Oregon SQL

16 04 2014

The 2014 PASS Business Analytics Conference is just a few weeks away and you know you want to go to see top speakers give over 70 sessions on how to use all the new BI tools and technologies that could make you the most important person in your organization.  This year the PASS BAC is May 7-9 in San Jose, California.  You can save $150 by using this discount code provided by the Oregon SQL PASS Chapter: BA4K8P.  Enter this when prompted on the registration page.

Aside from the great content, the greatest value I get from these conferences is networking with community leaders, authors, speakers, attendees and product developers.  Please stop me and say Hi


SQL Saturday Lisbon Portugal

14 04 2014

We’re on our way home from Lisbon, Portugal after speaking at SQL Saturday #267.  Having had the pleasure to attend and speak at quite a few SQL Saturday events over the years, I’ve never seen a group of event organizers work so tirelessly with as much passion and dedication.  Thanks to Niko Neugebauer, Vitor Pombeiro, Paulo Matos, Quilson Antunes, Murilo Miranda, André Batista and Paulo Borges for the late nights and long hours you all invested to make this a very special SQL Saturday.  The event was a great success; as well as a special day of sightseeing the day afterward for all the speakers.  After recruiting an impressive list of speakers from all over the globe, these volunteers went well beyond the call of duty to chauffer speakers from the airport to hotels, the event venues and around the city.  It was quite a treat.  Thank you!

SQL Saturday Preconference Optional System Requirements

7 04 2014

If you are attending the preconference session on Building a Complete BI Solution on April 11 in Lisbon at SQL Saturday #267, I will provide all of the project and data files that I will be using at the beginning of the session.  You are welcome to follow-along with the finished project files but this is not a requirement to attend the session.  You are also welcome to simply attend and take notes and then you can download the samples later.

We will be using a fairly large volume of data for a laptop machine which increases the system requirement but you can load a subset of the data files if you prefer.  There are two different demo solutions and the system requirements are different for each.

system requirements

participation options:

  • watch & take notes
  • download workshop files & work with them later
  • follow along with all or part of the demonstrations, using the finished solutions*

Personal BI solution

  • Office 2013/365 ProPlus edition
  • Power Query
  • Power Map

Enterprise BI solution

  • SQL Server 2012 Developer edition
    all features installed
  • SSAS tabular instance
  • SSRS in native mode
  • 20 – 40 GB of disk space
    (whether you load part or all data)

* please use provided solutions rather than building as you go.  we can’t provide support or troubleshooting for your development environment.

Creating a Business Intelligence Solution with D&B Business Data & Excel 2013 BI Tools

26 03 2014

This series of video sessions will demonstrate how to create a business intelligence solution with sets of business data from multiple sources.  In the first session, I import business records from 5 different D&B data feeds using the Windows Azure Marketplace with desktop BI tools in Excel 2013 ProPlus.  In future sessions, I will combine public data sets, use features of Power BI and migrate to an enterprise scale BI solution with SQL Server, SSAS tabular and SharePoint.

D&B data fees in the Windows Azure Marketplace can be used to get detailed, current demographic and financial information about specific businesses or companies in different regions and categories.  These business records can be used for things like market analysis, sales, verification and research.

Session 1 – Getting started (48:00)
Analyzing Dunn & Bradstreet business records data from the Windows Azure Marketplace
using Excel 2013 Power Query, Power Pivot and Power View to create a basic dashboard

To watch this video with more playback controls, you can also view it on ScreenCast here.

Session 2 – Enhancing the Solution (32:00)
Combining Dunn & Bradstreet Customer Records with Public & Enterprise Data
Geographic visualization with Power Map, publishing to Power BI and using Q&A to search a model with natural language



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Sessions at SQL Saturday, Lisbon April 11 & 12

22 03 2014

If you plan to attend SQL Saturday 267 in Lisbon, Portugal; I hope you can join me.  My three presentations  include a full-day preconference on Friday, the 11th of April on Building a Complete BI Solution with Office & SQL Server.  There is still plenty of time to register.

On Saturday, the 12th of April, I have a session at 3:30 PM titled Visualization Choices: What, When, and How? and at 5:00 PM titled Tabular Models: Easier & Faster Than Cubes; Really?

Here are the preconference details:

Building a Complete Business Intelligence Solution with Microsoft Office 2013 & SQL Server 2012

This full-day, interactive demonstration will show attendees how to use Business Intelligence tools to create a complete solution delivering dashboards, self-service and mobile BI.  We will create a solution with and without SharePoint integration using on-premises data sources.

Attendees should have a basic knowledge of SQL Server design and management tools and should know how to use Office Excel 2013.  At the conclusion, attendees will know how to use SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), the Excel PowerPivot add-in, Report Builder and Power View to create and deliver dashboard and self-service reports.  We will also demonstrate the use of 3rd-party tools to deliver mobile extensions to an on premise BI solution.

BI Solution Components

Begin with a brief and high-level introduction to the components of traditional BI solutions to help attendees appreciate the usual scale and cost.  Discuss the options to scale these items for small and large projects.  Discuss the trade-offs for each and the value of centralized solutions, data quality and master data management.  Discuss the challenges of designing, building and maintaining large-scale BI solutions.

  • Data loading & transformation (ETL using SSIS)
  • Staging (SQL Server relational)
  • Dimensional model (SQL Server relational)
  • Semantic model (SSAS Tabular)
  • Report portal (SharePoint & native)
  • Dashboards (SSRS & Power View)
  • Reports (SSRS & other tools)

Introducing Self-Service Semantic Models

  • Introduce xVelocity (briefly compare PowerPivot & Tabular SSAS)
  • Introduce the PowerPivot add-in
  • Importing data
  • Accessing & integrating data sources
  • Add an Excel linked table
  • Add relational, multidimensional & text files
  • Use an SSRS report Atom Feed

Build a PowerPivot Model

  • Import tables from multiple sources
  • Model relationships
  • Set table & column properties
  • Create calculated columns
  • Create simple calculated measures using auto sums
  • Browse the model using an Excel pivot table
  • Set data types, formatting & basic content types

Advanced PowerPivot Properties

  • Create KPIs
  • Create hierarchies
  • Browse the model using Excel

Sharing Models & Collaboration

  • Deploy the Excel model to SharePoint
  • Discuss settings, security & reporting options
  • Demonstrate the PowerPivot Gallery
  • Refresh options & scheduling

Introduce Power View

  • Create basic reports in Power View
  • Add tables, matrices, column & bar charts
  • Convert tables to slicers & analyze measures
  • Add a KPI
  • Use a hierarchy to drill-down in a Power View matrix

Use Advanced PowerPivot Features to Enable Power View Visuals

  • Add geographic content types
  • Add date part content types & a hierarchy
  • Create a map visual with a geographic hierarchy
  • Visualize geographic hierarchies with a drill-down map
  • Visualize data points using latitude & longitude
  • Add Power View filters
  • Add multiples
  • Add cards & panels
  • Create multiple views in Power View
  • Style a Power

Introducing DAX Calculations

  • Relationship navigation
  • Contextual filters
  • Time intelligence functions
  • Advanced & conditional aggregation
  • Add a time intelligence calculation (rolling summary, parallel period, etc.)
  • Create a hierarchy with calculated date columns
  • Browse the added calculations & columns using Power View

Using Excel as a BI Dashboard & Reporting Tool

  • Use the Excel pivot table with measures & calculations
  • Use advanced pivot charts
  • Add slicers
  • Conditional formatting rules & visuals
  • KPI indicators
  • Deploy Excel to SharePoint and open report in browser
  • Discuss sharing & collaboration options for Excel Services

Tool Choices & Criteria

  • Solution options with SharePoint and without SharePoint
  • Discuss the criteria for choosing among different tools for browsing & presenting results. 
  • Create a dashboard using SSRS Report Builder 
    • Create dashboard elements using Report Builder 
      • Balanced scorecard with KPI indicators & drill-down
      • Gauge panel (bullet graphs)
      • Column or line chart for trending & comparisons
  • Use Power View to create a dashboard
  • Considerations for mobile dashboard design & self-service using tablet devices (iPad & Windows Surface)

Enterprise Scale

  • Migrating PowerPivot to a tabular model
  • Introduce partitioning
  • Introduce SSAS security
  • Introduce perspectives
  • Discuss advanced business solution scenarios

Final Steps & Summary

  • IT & business partnering, support tasks 
  • Business user education
  • Report sandboxing & branding
  • Periodic report review & consolidation
  • Planning your first implementation
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SQL Server and BI Events in San Jose, California

13 03 2014

San Jose is the place to be for two big events this spring.  SQL Saturday Silicon Valley (#276) is this weekend, March 15.  Current registrations will make this one of the largest SQL Saturday events in history.  Follow #SqlSat276 and go to for event information, session schedules and downloadable content.

Join the BI Expert Panel Group on LinkedIn

Ask us your tough BI questions and we’ll use them for discussion in our BI Expert Panel session.


The PASS Business Analytics Conference is also coming to San Jose on May 7-9 and will be the premier event for the Business Intelligence and Business Analytics communities.  Please join us as we bring the community together once again.

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PASS Business Analytics Conference Keynote Speaker Announced

18 02 2014

With the BAC just about three months away, PASS has announce that David McCandless, author of Information Is Beautiful, will be the leading keynote speaker.

Microsoft’s Kamal Hathi and Amir Netz will open the conference.  Kamal is the General Manager responsible for managing the overall strategy, design, development and delivery of SQL Server business intelligence technologies.

Amir is a Microsoft Technical Fellow, the world’s leading Business Intelligence expert, chief designer for Microsoft SQL Server and founder, inventor and architect for Microsoft’s BI technologies.


The PASS announcement today:

Information Is Beautiful Author David McCandless Keynoting at PASS Business Analytics Conference 2014

Leading an all-star speaker lineup of data experts from Intuit, Microsoft, SurveyMonkey, Wells Fargo, Yahoo! and more


CHICAGO, Illinois — February 18, 2014 — Award-winning information designer and data journalist David McCandless, author of Information Is Beautiful, will take center stage at the 2nd annual PASS Business Analytics Conference in San Jose, CA, May 7-9, leading an all-star speaker lineup from across the world of business analytics.

With his information design work appearing in over 40 publications internationally, London-based McCandless uses data visualization and infographics to explore new directions for journalism and discover new stories in data. His popular blog and book, Information Is Beautiful (HarperCollins 2009), are dedicated to visualizing ideas, issues, knowledge, and data. He’s also had pieces exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Wellcome Trust gallery in London, and the Tate Britain.

“By merging data, visual design, and storytelling, David McCandless’ work continues to instruct and inspire data professionals as we strive to translate data into meaningful information,” says PASS President Thomas LaRock. “We’re thrilled to welcome him to the PASS Business Analytics Conference as he shares his love of data and challenges us to better understand our businesses and the world around us through data.”

Microsoft’s Kamal Hathi and Amir Netz, back by popular demand, will kick off the conference on Day 1 with their lively mix of real-world demonstrations and intriguing data explorations as they tour the latest in business analytics and BI technologies that empower users to gather, analyze, and visualize data.

Bringing together business analysts, data scientists, and business intelligence and IT pros, the PASS BA Conference will feature 65+ best-practices, how-to, and strategy sessions by top BA/BI experts from Intuit, Microsoft, SurveyMonkey, Wells Fargo, Yahoo! and more. The event will also showcase thought-leading panels, the latest partner solutions, and a variety of networking opportunities designed to give attendees the contacts, tools, and expertise they need to get the most out of their organization’s data.

For more information and to register at the discounted rate by March 31, visit

About PASS
PASS is an independent, not-for-profit community organization dedicated to empowering data professionals who leverage Microsoft technologies to connect, share, and learn. With a growing membership of more than 100K, PASS enables networking, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning through local and virtual chapters, online events, local and regional events, and international conferences such as the PASS Business Analytics Conference. For more information, visit the PASS Web site at

All brand names, product names, and trademarks belong to their respective holders.


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Book Review of Microsoft Tabular Modeling Cookbook

18 02 2014

by Paul te Braak, from Packt Publishing
on Amazon

Good technology books usually come in one of two forms.  Some of the books on my shelves go deep technically, contain useful tidbits of code but read like the phonebook.  Just a few are interesting and insightful.  This book is a rare gem that does both.  Paul te Braak is well-known in the Business Intelligence community for his expertise and contributions and he delivers a unique guide that starts with the basics and proceeds to cover all of the essentials with depth and practical examples to solve some challenging business problems.

You might expect a book that introduces fundamental concepts to gloss-over advanced topics and avoid complex applications.  This book covers the essentials of data modeling and analysis with Excel and Power Pivot in language that is plain and easy to understand but it doesn’t stop with the basics.  It covers practical and useful applications without insulting the reader’s intelligence.  As an experienced data modeler, I found several useful techniques and new methods to use the tools and language.  Paul’s coverage of practical techniques spans the spectrum of business applications and product features.  This is a rare book that is not only a good tutorial with many hands-on examples that can be repeated by the reader but it’s also a great reference of useful techniques and code samples.

Highlights include:

  • The integration of Excel features such as ranges, tables, pivot tables and pivot charts with the additional features of Power Pivot and Power View that extend and enhance these capabilities
  • Examples and instructions are directed at Excel 2010 users and the author compares some the different features in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013.
  • Fundamentals of the DAX calculation language
  • Importing data as text, different date formats and implied data type columns
  • Beyond the basics, a schema.ini file is used to define column data types
  • Importing data from a database, working with database tables, views and queries, managing connections and challenges encountered running the table import wizard multiple times
  • Data feeds using OData and using a Reporting Services report to provide a data feed
  • Decisions a designer makes to enable the user’s experience when browsing a model.  This includes sorting values, navigating hierarchies that enable drill-down interaction. 
  • DAX “X” functions (SUMX, MINX, etc.) to perform row-level aggregation
  • Working with parent-child hierarchies using specialized DAX path functions. 
  • Advanced browsing features, adjusting pivot table options to optimize the user experience
  • Building and using KPIs and using alternate table relationships
  • Time calculations and date functions.  This chapter covers running totals and totals to date
  • Date part aggregate functions (MTD, YTD, etc.),
  • Essential data math and comparisons
  • LastYear and PriorPeriod functions, TotalYTD
  • Manufacturing calendar, working with “445” dates
  • Creating a dynamic relative time measure, using a shell dimension table
  • Using DatesBetween to show the average value for the past 10 days
  • Apply advanced modeling technique to bin, sort and rank values for reporting
  • Expand concepts introduced in chapter 3, using the DAX “X” functions to perform row iteration in advanced financial applications
  • Defining and working with many-to-many relationships.  This is often no trivial task to completely understand many-to-many relationship requirements and to apply a working solution that provides the intended results
  • Addressing inventory and stock-keeping challenges
  • Conditional aggregation at different levels
  • Budgeting and forecasting vs actuals
  • Programming Excel to enhance the users experience
  • Excel VBA event programming to respond to slicers
  • Using cube functions
  • Interacting with charts and slicers
  • Building solutions for the enterprise
  • Using the SSDS Tabular designer
  • Migrating Power Pivot models to Tabular server solutions
  • managing connections, implementing impersonation, managing security
  • Using roles and perspectives
  • Generating and using XMLA script
  • Defining and implementing role-based, dynamic row filtering
  • Performing currency conversion
  • Managing and optimizing  a Tabular solution
  • Deployment scenarios
  • Using SSDT to deploy and process models
  • Using the SSAS Deployment Wizard
  • Generating and using deployment scripts
  • Creating and managing partitions
  • Scheduling and executing processing tasks
  • Utilizing DirectQuery for real-time data results
  • Using Profiler to troubleshoot and optimizing a model
  • Querying a model using DAX
  • comparison of similar and different concepts in multidimensional and Tabular semantic models
  • Query with MDX
  • Query with DAX
  • DAX tools and debugging techniques
  • Using DAX query techniques to simulate SQL query operations
  • Column aliases, joins, filters, deriving tables
  • Samples and top ranked results
  • Using Power View to present results and visualize data
    • Essential design features
    • creating a table report
    • using a matrix to pivot results
    • time and data filters
    • advanced filters
    • creating charts
    • bar charts
    • stacked charts
    • cluster chart
    • using tiles to navigate sectioned results
    • using images
    • managing tables with default field sets
    • table behavior and cards
    • data categories and visual behaviors
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Power BI is Released

10 02 2014

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for as Microsoft has announced the general availability of Power BI in Office 365.  Today’s announcement represents a milestone in a long road of product development and technology evolution, literally years and even decades in the making

What is Power BI?  In short, it is a complete set of integrated tools for data modeling, analytics and visualization hosted in Microsoft’s secure cloud environment.  The Power BI tools integrate with Microsoft Office 2013, mainly Excel, and can be synchronized with on-premises data.  This new offering fills a much needed gap by giving power users access to rich tools for business analysis tools.

Content is hosted in SharePoint Online and leverages mature, enterprise-scale Microsoft BI technologies in a platform that is usable by business power users.  These simple tools are based on technologies like SQL Server Analysis Services, Power Pivot, Power View and new capabilities of Power Query, Power Map and natural language Q&A.

The Power BI product team announced general availability this morning, February 10, 2014.  You can sign-up for a preview or subscribe to Power BI for about $20/month for Office users user or $40/month for new users.

The best way to appreciate the power of Power BI is to watch the demo contest videos where about 70 different members of the community demonstrated the tools in 10 minute videos.  If you’re just getting started with these tools, there is a lot to learn and a tremendous amount of value to be gain by using these tools in your business.  How do you get started?  Attend the PASS Business Analytics Conference and watch my blog for useful information and links to other resources in the community.

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Reporting Services Migration Guide Released

7 02 2014

It’s great to see Microsoft’s ongoing support for Reporting Services.  Not long ago, a client needed some help migrating their entire arsenal of SSRS reports from report servers to a new enterprise-wide SharePoint deployment.  It wasn’t easy and there were limited options to automate the process.  That’s why I’m excited to share the announcement that the Migrating Content Between Report Servers white paper has been released.

This paper covers how to use the new Reporting Services Migration Tool which is currently in beta release. 

Using the tool, you can migrate these objects: Reports, Shared Data Sources, Shared Datasets, Folders, Subscriptions, Snapshots, Credentials stored in the data sources and subscriptions, Cache Refresh Options and Processing Options.

You can generate migration scripts that can be managed and executed with PowerShell.

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