Power BI 101, What Should I Learn?

This is the second part of my new series of Power BI posts named Power BI 101. In the previous post, I briefly discussed what Power BI is. In this post, I look into one of the most confusing parts for those who want to start learning Power BI. Many people jump straight online and look for Power BI training courses which there are plenty out there. But which one is the right training course for you? Let’s find out.

What do you want to gain from learning Power BI?

Regardless of attending paid training courses or being a self-learner, the above question is one of the most important questions you might ask yourself before going to the next steps. The answer to this question dictates the sort of training you must look for. Your answer to the preceding question can be one or none of the following:

  • I am a graduate/student looking at the job market
  • I am a business analyst and I want to know how Power BI can help you with my daily job
  • I am a database developer and I want to learn more about business intelligence and data and analytics space
  • I am a non-Microsoft Business Intelligence developer and I want to start learning more about Microsoft offerings
  • I am a system admin and I have to manage our Power BI tenant
  • I am a data scientist and I want to know how I can use Power BI
  • I am just ciourious to see what Power BI can do for me

As mentioned, your answer might not be any of the above, but, thinking about your reason(s) for learning Power BI can help you to find the best way to learn and use Power BI more efficiently. You can spend time and money taking some online courses and get even more confused. You don’t want that do you?

So, whatever reason(s) you have in mind to learn Power BI, most probably you fall into one of the following user categories:

Think about your goal(s) and what you want to achieve by learning Power BI then try to identify your user category. For instance, if you are a student thinking of joining an IT company as a data and analytics developer, then your user category is most probably a Power BI Developer or a Contributor.

To help you find out your user category let’s see what the above user categories mean.

Power BI Developers

The Power BI Developers are the beating hearts of any Power BI development project. Regardless of the project you will be involved with, you definitely require to have a certain level of knowledge of the following:

  • Data preparation/ETL processes
  • Data warehousing
  • Data modelling/Star schema
  • Data visualisation

To be a successful Power BI developer you must learn the following languages in Power BI:

  • Power Query
  • DAX

Depending on the types of projects you will be involved in, you may require to learn the following languages as well:

  • Microsoft Visual Basic (for Paginated Reports)
  • Python
  • R
  • T-SQL
  • PL/SQL

As a Power BI developer, you will write a lot of Power Query and DAX expressions. Most probably you require to learn T-SQL as well. The following resources can be pretty helpful:

Continue reading “Power BI 101, What Should I Learn?”

Power BI Governance, Good Practices, Part 2: Version Control with OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint Online

Power BI Governance, Version Control with OneDrive for Business, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online

One of the most important aspects of the software development life cycle is to have control over different versions of a solution, especially in a project where there is more than one developer involved in the implementation. Just like when you normally create a project in visual studio and you commit the changes back to a source control system like GitHub or Azure DevOps, it’s advised to keep the history of different versions of your Power BI reports. What we expect from a source control solution is to keep tracking of all changes happening in the source code while developing a project. So you can easily roll back to a previous state if you like to. 

The other benefit of having a source control process in place is when multiple developers are working on a single project. Every single one of them makes changes in the source code then they commit all the changes into the source control server without overwriting each others’ work. 

With Power BI things are a bit different though. Power BI report files are PBIX files which are stored in binary format (well, PBIX is basically a zip file isn’t it?) which at the time of writing this post, there is no official way to enforce Power BI source control in any source control solutions like GitHub or Azure DevOps (YET). 

Microsoft announced a fantastic feature last week (6/05/2020) named “Deployment Pipelines” which does exactly what we’re after, but it is currently a preview feature which is only available only to organisations with Power BI Premium. So it is out of the game for the majority of us.

Having said that, there is still a way to keep history of changes in the shape of different versions of PBIX files. This is called Version Control.

There are several ways you can enable version control over your PBIX files while developing the report. Regardless of the version control platform you need to think about having multiple environments and who can access them for doing what.

EnvironmentAccessible toDescription
DevelopmentDevelopersData modellers and report writers access this environment for development purposes.  
User Acceptance Test (UAT)Developers, SMEs, Technical Leads, Power BI AdminsAfter the development is finished the developers deploy the solution to the UAT environment. The solution will then be tested by SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to make sure the business requirements are met.
Pre-prod (Optional but recommended)Technical Leads, Power BI AdminsAfter the solution passed all UAT testing scenarios Technical Leads or Power BI Admins will deploy it to Pre-prod for final checks to make sure all data sources are correctly pointing to production data sources and all reports and dashboards are working as expected.  
ProductionTechnical Leads, Power BI Admins, End UsersAfter pre-prod checks completed Technical Leads or Power BI Admins deploy the solution to the Production environment which is then available to the end users.

Version Control Options

If your organisation does not have a Premium capacity then “Deployment Pipelines” feature is not available to you. So you need to come up with a solution though. In this section I name some Version Control options available to you

  • OneDrive for Business
  • Microsoft Teams/SharePoint Online
Continue reading “Power BI Governance, Good Practices, Part 2: Version Control with OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint Online”

Data Classification in Power BI

Power BI Data ClassificationIn many corporations depending on the type of data is being used there could be different types of the sensitivities that should be applied to that data. Data Classification fulfills in Power BI Service this matter very easily. In today’s post you’ll learn how to setup Data Classification in Power BI Service.

First of all I want to inform you that Data Classification is NOT a sort of security or privacy setting. It is only a TAG which is all about informing Power BI users across a corporation to take extra care when they want to share data with other people inside or outside of that corporation. For instance some data might be OK to be shared externally outside the company, but, the other data might not be shared with groups of people even within that corporation.

Depending on your corporation you might have different levels of sensitivity like

  • High Sensitive Data
  • Medium Sensitive Data
  • Low Sensitive Data

So depending on what level of sensitivity, for instance for High Sensitive Data, the Power BI users should be really careful of who they share Power BI Dashboards and data with. In Power BI Service we can easily setup data classification on our dashboards so anyone who is looking at that dashboard is able to understand how sensitive that dashboard is and who they can share it with.

Requirements

To be able to setup Data Classification in Power BI Service you have to:

In case that you want to add another admin user,and if you already integrated your on-premises Active Directory with Azure Active Directory (AD) then you can either grant necessary admin rights to that user from your Azure portal in Azure AD or directly from Office 365 Admin Centre.

The user needs to be an Office 365 “Global Administrator” to be able to setup data classification in Power BI Service. A global administrator will have access to “Admin Portal” panel within Power BI Service which includes data classification and many more other important settings.

Make a User Global Administrator in Office 365

After you signed into your Power BI Service account,

  • Click “Admin” tile from the app launcher

Office 365 Admin Centre

Continue reading “Data Classification in Power BI”

SSRS 2016 and Power BI

SSRS 2016 and Power BI

Without a doubt SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) is one of the most powerful reporting tools for several years. There are tons of features that you can use to make a report that suits your customers’ needs. Despite programmability and extensibility are key strengths of Reporting Services platform when it comes to creating dashboards, SSRS has absolutely nothing to offer as SSRS is a report authoring tool. So it never supposed to offer dashboards. In old days we could create web parts in SharePoint or we could install Performance Point and include SSRS reports in Performance Point dashboards. But, setting up and implementing dashboards in SharePoint/Performance Point was always a painful job. Happily with the new version of SQL Server 2016 we are able to pin visuals from existing on-prem SSRS reports to a Power BI dashboard. In this article I explain how SSRS 2016 and Power BI integration works.

Requirements

When you meet the above requirements you can pin visuals from existing SSRS reports to Power BI or you can create brand new reports and pin the visuals to Power BI.

Note: You can only pin report visuals to Power BI that means you won’t be able to pin tables and matrix to Power BI.

Note: If you don’t want to install the developer edition of SQL Server 2016 OR for any reason you cannot use the developer edition, don’t worry, the functionality I’m going to explain is available in other editions of SQL Server 2016. Indeed, the only editions that doesn’t support SSRS integration with Power BI are “Express Edition” and ” Express with Tools” editions. Check this out for more information.

Register SSRS with Power BI

After installing SQL Server you need to configure Reporting Services. As configuring Reporting Services is out of scope I leave it to you.

Note: At the time of writing this article I was using SQL Server 2016 CTP3. The same principles apply to SQL Server 2016.

  • Open “Reporting Services Configuration Manager”
  • Enter the “Server Name” and “Reporting Services Instance” then click “Connect”

SSRS 2016 Continue reading “SSRS 2016 and Power BI”