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Power BI Desktop August 2015 Update

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This video, we are going to take a look at the new features included in the Power BI Desktop August 2015 Update. It's been only a few weeks since our GA announcement for Power BI Desktop at the end of July. And we already have quite a few new features to you in this August update. So let's go ahead and take a look at them in detail. We have lots of features spanning from new data connectors to improved transformations and improvements on other areas like data modeling and live analysis services connectivity. Let's just start from the top. The first item is the ability to import Excel Workbook Contents such as Power Query queries, Power Pivot data models, and Power View worksheets from an existing Excel Workbook to a new Power BI desktop file. We believe this is a very important capability because it will help many users who already have existing Excel workbooks with Power BI artifacts on them. It will help them get started with using Power BI Desktop and being able to augment and continue working on those reports inside Power BI Desktop and benefitting from all the new features that we are adding there every month including new visualizations, much more fluent experience across the operation modeling and presentation, and many of the other features included in Power BI Desktop. So let's take a look at how this feature works. I have an Excel Workbook. I'm in Excel 2013 and this workbook has a few different artifacts on it. So for instance, if I go to my Power Query tab and I go to the Workbook Queries task pane, as you can see I have five different queries on this workbook. I also have some of these queries loading into the data model. So let's go into the data model window. And as you can see, I have these five tables loaded into the data model. And also I have a calculated column which is line total, and I also have a mesher defined as the sum of the line total column. In addition to the data model elements on the Power Query queries, I also have a Power View worksheet which has a title, it has a card visualization with the value of the total sales mesher and a few other charts as well. And what we're going to do now Is use the new feature to migrate or convert or import the contents from this workbook into Power BI Desktop. For that, first I need to close my Excel file. And we're going to go into a clean or new instance of Power BI Desktop. This feature can be accessed from the File menu, so you need to close the start page. And then you can go into the File menu and go File Import, and you'll find the new option for Excel Workbook Contents. The first thing that you need to do is provide a link to the actual Excel file that you would like to convert. And then you'll start the process of converting this file. We give you lots of information so if you follow the Learn More link in this initial screen, it will give you lots of details about the current limitations or known issues with this feature, hopefully things that you'll be able to improve over time. When I click Start, Power BI Desktop will start analyzing the contents of this Workbook. You will start migrating all of your Power Query queries, converting measures to the formatting Power BI Desktop, upgrading the version of the data model, and finally copying all of the Power BI worksheets also into this new Power BI Desktop file. At the interval, as you can see, there is a summary dialog that will innumerate all of the items that were copied. So it copied all of the queries; it copied five data model tables; it created one new measure total sales; and then it copied the other one, Power View Worksheet. Once I click Close, these are reportable below leading Power BI Desktop. And I'll be able to continue working with it from here. So as you can see, I have the same five tables. If I go into Order Details, I have my Measure with Total Sales. I have the Calculated column that we created. And then we can continue extending it from here. So even if I go into the relationships dialog for instance, I would see all of the relationships defined across these five different tables, and I'll be able to start augmenting this data model and adding more data if need be or being able to create new pages in my report with new visualizations. Great. That's it for the first feature. As I was saying, this would be a very useful way for users to get started with creating content inside Power BI Desktop. We plan to have many more communication ways or interaction ways between Excel and Power BI Desktop over time both to import data from Excel and to export data from Power BI Desktop into Excel. And you can see this is the first attempt to start bridging some of those connections between both tools. The next group of improvements are new data connectors. We have two new data connectors this month. We have a new connector for Azure HDInsight Spark, and we have another one for Azure SQL Data Warehouse. Let's take a look at where they show up inside Power BI Desktop. If we go back to our File and you go into the Get Data dialog, you'll be able to find these two new connectors and they are the Azure menu. So as you can see, we have the second from the top is Azure SQL Data Warehouse and the last one is Azure HDInsight Spark. Once you select one of these and you go through the credential dialogs for each of them to kind of connect to the server that you specify, you'll be able to browse and navigate the tables within the navigator dialog experience just as with any other data source and be able to preview the data and either load it straight into your report or edit these tables up front through the query editor window. Let's take a look at the next improvement. We are adding support for specifying custom MDX or DAX statements when importing data from analysis services. This was a very frequently requested feature from many of you who already have existing MDX or DAX queries that you've built with other tools and you came to Power BI Desktop and you were able to import data from analysis services, but the problem is that you have to recreate those queries from scratch by means of using the navigator dialog to pick the specific dimensions and measures and then going into the query editor to apply additional transformations if you need it. But with this update, we're giving you the ability to just straightforward get your existing MDX or DAX query and paste it into Power BI Desktop. And you're on your own at that point and you'll be able to get the exact same output that you were able to get with other tools. So for instance, if we go back to our existing Power BI Desktop report and I go to Get Data dialog, you can select Analysis Services Database and you can specify your connection details. In my case, that's montegorefAzure and database name I have in this notepad. And note that this MDX or DAX query option it's only available when you use the second option in the Analysis Services Dialog which is the ability to select a specific item and import data. This query option is not available when you use the expiration mode. which in any case in this specific demo is disabled because I already created some different tables as you can see on the fill list which are created through the import path. So in this case, I'm going to go ahead and copy my, in this case, MDX query. It's select MDX queries to bring a few different measures and dimensions. And once I click OK, Power BI Desktop is going to go and run that specific query against your Analysis Services Database, and it's going to come back with the output in this form. This is a preview of the resulting table that came back after the query was executed. And just like with any other data source, you're going to be able to load these tables into your data models so that you can start creating reports on top. Or you could click the Edit button so you're in the Query Editor view, so you can apply additional data transformations or filtering up front. Let's go and take a look at the next set of improvements. There are a few improvements that we're doing to the Navigator Dialog. Let's take a look at them. Let's connect back to something that will take me back into the Navigator. So for instance, my favorite north window Data Fit. So we've done a couple of improvements. The first one is the ability to resize this Navigator dialog. So if you remember from previous update, we made it possible for you to resize the actual Navigator list of tables like basically this pane on the left. Now if you already have a table preview, and for some reason it's too wide like the one I'm showing right now with customers, you are able to resize the entire Navigator dialog so that you'd be able to see the table preview much more easily and we felt that need to scroll that map. As you can see, it's so easy to resize, and something that we are working on for an upcoming update, it's also being able to maximize this dialog. So for even easier use, you would be able to maximize. And most of the space will be taken by the table preview on the right pane here. All right. Let's go back. The other improvement in the Navigator Dialog is the ability to select multiple items through keyboard shortcuts like control click and shift click to select more than one table. Now we've also made a few improvements in the Query Editor environment. The first one is around Query Groups. So we're making it much easier to create and delete groups. So if I am in the Query Editor window and I go into the Queries pane here on the left, I'm going to be able to just right click and say—actually, right clicking on the back of the group, I'll be able to create a new group. These will let me create my own group. without the need of sending a query to this group up front which is kind of the way it was working up until now. So we've done that one as a top level improvement. And then we're also doing a few other things. So let me move a couple of queries into my own group. We are also enabling now the ability to decide whether you would like to delete a group or just ungroup the items. So if you delete the group, this will also delete all of the queries within the group. Like in this case, it would delete Categories and Customers. If I don't want to do that and the only thing that I want to do is Ungroup, I could use the second option, Ungroup, so that it would send those queries back to the general group, the other Queries group, which by default is not visible when you don't have any other group but this one in your workbook. All right. Let's look at the second improvement in the Query Editor is the ability to split queries. And this will let you basically easily reuse base steps, common base steps, that you have in a query. You'll be able to reuse them across different queries. Let me show you what I mean by that. If I select the table such as the Customers table, and let's say that I made a few transformations here. So for instance I removed those two columns, maybe I turn the Country column into upper case, so I can format this column as upper case. OK. And we'll also dismiss that tower. So as you can see, I have built a few different steps here. And they might be all common steps that I would like to reuse across queries, but maybe I suddenly need to do something that's specific to this query. So for instance, let's say that I would like to filter down to just a specific country. Let's say Argentina, for instance. And click OK. So now this query that used to be Customers is actually customers from Argentina. So we can rename it like that. But let's say that the next query that I need to build is customers from Brazil. And in order to do that, without this split query functionality, I would need to either duplicate this query and recreate all of the steps but then change the last filter step. Or I will have to be smart enough to know earlier in the flow. So basically before I create the specific step for this particular query, I would need to know that I need to stop there and create a reference to that query to then perform the last step over there. Because that's so complicated, what we ended up doing in this case is giving you the ability to extract previous steps from your query. That's available through a right click context menu option. You apply the steps. You could do this on any step except for the first one which obviously there's no previous step to that one. If I do it on the last one which is my Filtered Rows step, I'm going to be asked to provide the name for the new query which is going to be the base query. That query is going to contain the four steps that I have prior to Filter Rows in this case. So for instance, we can call that new query Customers which is going to be my entire Customers list. And you see now the new customers query here on the Queries Navigator. So these contain the four steps that we were talking about. And if we go to the Customers from Argentina query, you're going to see that it actually contains only two steps, the Source step which equals Customers. That's basically a reference to the Customers query that we just created, to the base query. And then I have my second step which is specific which is the filter for Argentina. So if I wanted to create now one for Brazil, all I need to do is duplicate customers from Argentina, and then I can change my filter. And we can change Argentina For Brazil. Click OK, and now this is going to be customers from Brazil. And I can then rename this query to make it much more clear. So that's my customers from Brazil query. So see how easy it is now to extract common base steps from a query through the extract query steps new option that we added. And we use those queries by duplicating them and having common references to the base query in place. Let's go back to the list. Besides the ability to split queries and the improvements on Query Group creation and deletion, the third improvement that we're doing on the Query Editor is having specific query icons to reflect the type of the query in the Navigator pane. So you probably notice that at this point already through my task pane that the queries task pane have different icons now. So as you can see, these are all tables. This one with question mark is just because they haven't been analyzed yet. So when I select one of them and actually get an updated result, they turn into tables. But then if I were to have something different from a table, let's say for instance a create a blank query that results in something like a text result. So for instance if I say ABC, that's a text result, so it looks like ABC. Let's say actually something that doesn't map to the default icon, so my query in this case is just a name. So you see how the icon still maps to ABC which is the generic text icon. Now let's say that I do something different. For instance we can do a number. So this square is going to be = 1 + 1. That's 2. So as you can see now, 123 is the type. And we can do that for more complex types as well. For instance, say that I wanted to do a list. So (1-10). Now this is going to give me a list icon which looks like a single list of items. But I could also turn this into a function. And then you're going to see what the function icon looks like which fairly you're familiar to because it's already exposed in other places through our UI. So this hopefully will make it much easier for you to understand or navigate through your queries. And it's not just about the name of a query, but in some cases you need to know the actual query type so that you're able to identify the query that you would like to get. Just a little usability improvement that should makes things more clear for you inside the Query Editor window. Going back to the list and switching gears to another group of improvements. In this case they are around the Data View. So we have the ability to resize columns. Let's go into the Data View and take a look. I'm going to Deny apply my changes. So if I go back to my main Power BI Desktop window and I switch into the Data View, so as you can see, I have the Category field and I'm able to resize it now to see the content there. So for instance, the description field, it didn't quite fit, so now it does. We have a Max Width limit and also a Min Width limit. That's something like that. So it will make things easier for you to browse and be able to preview your data properly inside the Data View so that you can then start enriching those tables with measures and new columns and additional data modeling metadata. Now let's go take a look at the second improvement on this data modeling area which is the ability to move measures from one table to another. So if I go to the older details table where I have a measure total sales and I select that measure, you're going to see now here in the ribbon that the data modeling ribbon tab has all of the operations that are contextual to the currently selected item, in this case the measure such as formatting and the controlling decimal numbers and all that. Now we've added the Home table so I can move this measure from one table to another. In this case, it's under older details, but I could easily move it to orders, for instance. OK. Let's take a look at the last improvement this month which is a usability improvement on top of the Live Analysis Services Connectivity. It's the ability to change the database from the Edit Queries dialog. So let's go into this existing file where I've created connection to a Analysis Services tabular model. I have a few tables that are all coming from data source. Live connection basically is direct connection as you can see in the status bar. So if I went to Edit Queries in this case, in the previous update from last month, you'd be able to change the server, and that's it. Now imagine that instead of changing the server or in addition to changing the server, I would like to change the database or even the model that I'm pointing to. Now when you click OK— before it used to stay at that point in the report and that's the only thing you could do. But now we take you back into the Navigator dialog so you'd be able to browse for that specific database and model and just get the exact same experience that you get on the first time connection you're able to get now on the Edit Past. So you'd be able to fully reconfigure where your live connection points to and of course it's important to call out that if you already created some visualizations on top of that tabular model and then you repoint to a different one, all of your visualizations will update and will start pointing to the new Analysis Services tabular model which you have to take into account that it should contain all of the same elements that you're consuming in your visualizations or otherwise your visualizations will be broken. But all in all a very powerful capability. We know that many of you have suggested us to increase or improve this because you tend to create some of these live reports against some sun blocks or internal environments that you use just for testing and for every prototyping of features. And you move them to a production environment after you're done and you would like to make that step happen in your reports as well before publishing them into Power BI. Great. So that's all for this month. We have many, many new features coming in September and October. The team is very busy right now not only celebrating GA from a few weeks ago but also working on the next big wave of features. So please continue sending us feedback and stay tuned for updates from our team in the next few weeks. Thank you very much.

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Duration: 23 minutes and 6 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: csintl on Oct 6, 2015

Check the August 2015 Power BI Desktop updates including new Excel import capabilities, Spark support, Analysis Services live connection and much more.

Learn more at https://powerbi.microsoft.com/desktop

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