Tag Archives: SSAS Tabular

Demystifying “DirctQuery” and “Connect Live”

The terms “DirectQuery” and “Connect Live” are somehow confusing. I saw lots of people are using both terminologies as alternatives. But, the context of “DirectQuery” and “Connect Live” are very different indeed. Therefore, if use a a terminology when we’re talking about a different context then the whole situation might get quite confusing. in this post I try to explain the differences and make it more clear to prevent using a wrong terminology and make sure everyone is on the same page when we’re referring to “DirectQuery” or “Connect Live”.

When we use the “DirectQuery” terminology we are actually talking about connecting from Power BI Desktop instance to an RDBMS type of data source like SQL Server DB or Oracle DB.

There are two types of data connections when we’re connecting to RDBMS like SQL Server or Oracle DB from Power BI Desktop:

  • Import Data: which literally loads data into the underlying model to make it available in memory
  • DirectQuery: which doesn’t load data into model. Instead, it runs multiple concurrent queries on the RDBMS side (data source side) and gets the results. This is good to support real-time data processing.

Note: The same principal applies to SSAS Tabular.

DirectQuery/Data Import Mode in Power BI Desktop

On the other hand, when talk about “Connect Live”, we are referring to the data connection type from a reporting tool like Power BI Desktop OR Excel to an instance of SSAS, either SSAS Multidimensional or SSAS Tabular.

Continue reading Demystifying “DirctQuery” and “Connect Live”

SSAS Tabular Model Documenter

Import Power BI Desktop Model to SSAS Tabular 2017 Using Azure Analysis Services


A while ago I wrote a blog post on how to import you currently existing Power BI Desktop models to SSAS Tabular 2016. However, the method I explained is NOT supported by official Microsoft BI tools like SSDT, so you may consider it as a WORKAROUND only until Microsoft supports imploring Power BI models in SSDT. In this post, I show you how to import Power BI Desktop Model to SSAS Tabular 2017 using Azure Analysis Services. It is easy and hassle free.



  • In this post I do NOT explain how to install Azure Analysis Services
  • This method works only for SQL Server Analysis Services 2017 Tabular

How it works

As mentioned earlier it is really easy in compare with other methods I explained in my previous post. Azure Analysis Services is capable of importing Power BI Desktop files creating a Tabular model version of your Power BI model in the cloud. Then you can simply download Visual Studio project file and redeploy it in your on-premises instance of SSAS Tabular 2017. Let’s go through the steps…

  • Open Power BI Desktop
  • Import data from WorldWideImportersDW from any desired combination of fact tables and dimensions. I imported
  • Create some simple Measures like:

Total Sales = SUMX(‘Fact Sale’, ‘Fact Sale'[Unit Price] * ‘Fact Sale'[Quantity])

  • Save your Power BI Model and close the file
  • Login to your Azure PortalBrowse to your instance of Azure Analysis Services
  • Click on “Open” under “Web designer—preview”


  • This opens a new page for fabulous “Azure Analysis Services Web Designer”. You’re right, a web designer for tabular models. How cool is that? Smile
  • Click “Add” button under “Models” section
  • Yes, you got it, enter a name for your model and click “Power BI Desktop” button
  • Click “Browse” and select the Power BI file you saved earlier then click “Import”


Continue reading Import Power BI Desktop Model to SSAS Tabular 2017 Using Azure Analysis Services

Creating Custom Table in SSAS Tabular using Table and Row Constructors in DAX


A while ago I was working on a Power BI project which the customer wanted to define a new table directly in the model. The easiest way to achieve this in Power BI Desktop is to “Enter Data” which creates a new table by typing or pasting in new contents. I was thinking of that project the other day and thought, hey, how we can do the same in SSAS Tabular when there is no Power Query (M) language available in SSAS Tabular 2016. The good news is that Power Query will be available in the next version of SSAS Tabular in SQL Server vNext. But, until then a workaround would be entering data to a CSV file then load it to the model. Another way is to implement custom tables in DAX in SQL Server 2016 Tabular models using Table and Row Constructors. In this post I show you a way of creating custom table in SSAS Tabular using table constructors in DAX. You can do the same in Power BI as the same principle applies. Therefore, in case you’d prefer not to use “Enter Data” feature which effectively uses Power Query to create a new table in Power BI Desktop, then you can use DAX to do the same.


If don’t already have SQL Server 2016 it’s probably time to download and install it. I use AdventureWorksDW as sample database in this article.


You are involved with an SSAS Tabular project and the customer asked for a report in Power BI with dynamic Card so that the values shown in the Card visual should dynamically change based on selected measure from a slicer. You have several different measures in the model and the customer wants to show some of them dynamically in only one Card visual. Consider you have the following measures to be shown in the Card:

  • Total Internet Sales
  • Internet Sales in 2014
  • Total Number of Internet Sales Transactions

You have to create a logic so that the users can selected any of the above measures to show in a single Card visual.

How it works

After you meet the requirements, you’re good to start implementing the above scenario in SQL Server Data Tool (SSDT). Creating a calculated table in SSAS Tabular 2016 is fairly easy. All we need to do is to create a custom table with two columns. One column stores friendly names for measures and the other one holds DAX expressions for the measures. As you might have noticed, I’m talking about creating a custom table in DAX and populating it with values. Continue reading to see how. What we are going to do is to create a calculated table using table constructors in DAX. Table and Row Constructors weren’t available in previous versions of DAX in SSAS Tabular. They are very similar to Lists or a list of Tuples just like what we have in MDX.

I’ll explain this later when we created our sample model in SSDT. Continue reading Creating Custom Table in SSAS Tabular using Table and Row Constructors in DAX

Using “IN” Operator in DAX

IN operator in DAX

If you are a SQL guy I bet you’ve used “IN” operator zillions of times. You might also looked for the same functionality in DAX and I’m sure you’ve found fantastic blog posts showing you how to mimic the same functionality in DAX. The October release of Power BI Desktop is full of new analytics features such as Grouping, Binning and TOPN filtering. On top of that, one new awesome feature that is not documented at time of writing this article, or at least I haven’t find anything over the internet, is “IN” operator in DAX. In this post I show you how to use it in your DAX expressions.


Note 1: You need to install SSMS2016 to be able to write DAX queries provided in this article. Alternatively, you can use DAX Studio . If for any reasons you cannot use SSMS 2016 or DAX Studio and you only have Power BI Desktop, don’t worry, I’ll provide some examples in Power BI Desktop as well.

Note 2: If you run previous versions of SQL Server it’s absolutely alright. There is nothing special in AdventureWorksDW2016CTP3 for this article that you don’t get in older versions of the sample database. But, keep in mind that SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition is now free and you can download it very easily. Check this out if you’re interested to see how.

Getting Started

After downloading the latest version of Power BI Desktop run it then

  • “Get Data” from SQL Server
  • From AdventureWorksDW2016CTP3 load “FactResellerSales”, “DimProduct”, “DimProductCategory”, “DimProductSubCategory” and “DimDate” to Power BI Desktop model
  • Find the local port of Power BI Desktop by opening “msmdsrv.port.txt” file from the following path:

“%UserProfile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Power BI Desktop\AnalysisServicesWorkspaces\AnalysisServicesWorkspaceXXXXXXXX\Data”

Note: The “XXXXXXXX” postfix is a random number. 

  • Open SSMS 2016 and connect to Power BI Desktop model as an Analysis Services local server. Do you want to learn more about how to connect your Power BI Desktop model from different software? Then check this out.

SSMS Connect to Power BI Desktop Model

  • Open an MDX new query
  • Run the following DAX query

Here is the results:

Writing DAX in SSMS

Now we want to filter “CalendarYear” so that the query shows sales values for 2011 and 2012 only. One common scenario we had to do in prior versions of Power BI Desktop, Power Pivot or SSAS Tabular model was to use a logical OR operator “||” like below:

From now on we can write the above query using “IN” operator in DAX like below:

Here is the results:

IN operator in DAX

Continue reading Using “IN” Operator in DAX