This post is really a collection of field notes and some lessons learned from recent project experience. I’ve done plenty of SSAS Tabular projects over the past few years – usually starting with a Visual Studio project rather than Power Pivot. I’ve also done a bit of Power Pivot work for clients. These projects were either delivered to an analyst using Excel on their desktop or some business users through SharePoint. But, authoring in Excel Power Pivot and deploying to a server-hosted Tabular model has been mainly theoretical up to this point so I thought I’d share my experience. Continue reading
I’m pleased to share the first two articles in a series for SQL Server Pro Magazine. Here’s a short excerpt from each with a link to the full article:
Getting Started with Datazen, Microsoft’s New Mobile Dashboard Platform (Part 1)
Microsoft Datazen is a new tool from Microsoft built on a mature and time-tested foundation of enterprise services and visualization components from Component Art. Interactive, touch-friendly, analytic dashboards created by data professionals are available to users on desktops and practically all modern mobile device platforms.
Getting Started with Datazen
The story you are about to read is going to sound too good to be true but it is true and it’s awesome.
About two years ago, I was helping a big consulting client evaluate mobile BI dashboard options for their Microsoft BI solution. A friend on the BI platform team at Microsoft asked for my thoughts about a new mobile dashboard tool called Datazen. My initial impression was that the product needed to mature to meet my client’s needs but the interactivity and visual experience was stunning. Half joking (in a Freudian sort of way), I told him that Microsoft should buy the company and finish integrating it with their BI platform. Imagine my delight when I learned last month that it actually happened.
Last month Microsoft announced that they had acquired the DataZen mobile BI platform and were adding it to their enterprise BI product suite. This is very exciting news that rounds out the Microsoft BI capabilities of their entire product portfolio. What’s more, is that they plan to make if free for SQL Server Enterprise customers who have Software Assurance agreements.
Watch for a series of articles about getting started with DataZen in SQL Server Pro Magazine online.
I presented a session at the PASS Global Summit in 2013 showcasing DataZen called “New York, London, Paris Munich; Everybody’s Talking About Mobile BI”. A product team leader in the Microsoft BI Visualization team had introduced me to DataZen and recommended I take a look. This led me to recommend that we evaluate the product for one of our enterprise BI clients and to talk about my experience in the conference session. My response to the Microsoft team was to recommend that they acquire DataZen. Whether I actually had anything to do with this product acquisition or not, it does give me a sense of satisfaction to know that it is now part of the Microsoft family.
So, what, exactly is DataZen and what are its capabilities and challenges? Continue reading
I’ve recently seen a wave of questions from clients and peers about difficulties exporting reports to Excel lately. Every few weeks I get a call or question about this. This topic has been a recurring theme for a very long time and one that I have encountered many times over the past – oh, eleven years or more – using SSRS. Business users like Excel because it’s what they know and they can reformat and manipulate data in a workbook. People like Reporting Services because all the hard work of connecting to data sources, writing queries, totaling, grouping and formatting the results gets done once and then all they need to do is run the report. Users want the best of both worlds and they expect that when they export a report to Excel that they should have their cake and eat it. In other words; they should be able to get a report, with all the goodness of headers, scrolling regions, pagination, interactive sorting – you name it – to work exactly the same way in Excel. Many improvements have been made to all of the report rendering extensions over the years and the Excel export story is better than ever but here’s the deal – bottom line – the more rich formatting and advanced functionality that gets designed into an SSRS report, the less likely it is to export all that functionality to Excel or any other rendering format. Continue reading
I’ve just finished a series of four articles for SQL Server Pro Magazine, along with sample projects and hands-on exercises. The series will take you through SSAS Tabular model design from start to finish, using the Adventure Works sample data in SQL Server 2012 or 2014. Here are links to all four articles followed by an excerpt from each.
Part 1 – Getting Started with SSAS Tabular
Part 2 – Easy DAX – Getting Started with Data Analysis Expressions
Part 3 – Tabular Model Administration
Part 4 – Deep Dive DAX – Solving Complex Business Problems with Data Analysis Expressions
Starting Your Modeling Career with Analysis Services Tabular Models Part 1
This is the first of a four-part series about getting started with Tabular model design using SQL Server Analysis Services in SQL Server 2012 and 2014. You will learn the basics from start to finish and build a complete solution. A sample project is provided for for each stage of the solution so you can follow-along with each article. Continue reading
I’ve spend a good three days on and off working with the new “Microsoft” DataZen dashboard tool and I think this is going to be significant addition to the enterprise BI offering. It’s not quick and easy to setup the server, configure data sources, data view queries and design dashboards but the end result is worth the investment. This is an impressive tool and users are going to love the dashboard experience. Continue reading
At the beginning of many new BI projects it can be challenging to get everyone using common terminology and language. This is especially true when people have biases with different vendor products or may have learned to use terms with different meanings. Miscommunication can be costly on a project so getting everyone on the same page is important. This list is intended bridge the gap for technical and non-technical members of the project effort. Continue reading