BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (IOS Power BI App for SSRS, Enterprise Gateway, Printing, AT Internet Content Pack) – SQL Server 2016 (eBook, Mobile Publisher)

The year is finally coming to a close and it has been a really busy but amazing year.

I am looking forward to what will be happening in the Microsoft BI space next year, with the release of SQL Server 2016, as well as I have no doubt that there are a great things planned for Power BI.

Power BI – IOS Power BI App for SSRS

Whilst this is not the most amazing picture that there has been with regards to Power BI, I do think that this is a rather significant thing to mention.

The reason being is that this is the first time that we are starting to see the integration of Power BI and SQL Server (On-Premise) becoming one mobile application. Which is what was in the roadmap that was presented by Microsoft a few months ago.

In my opinion I do see that as next year continues we will see more features integrated. Which I personally think will be really great. What this will mean is that for people on the go, or who want to have a quick view of the data or information, it will always be at their fingertips. They will no longer have to have to log into multiple locations or have multiple mobile applications. They can open one mobile app, and then see the information that they need to see immediately.

I really am looking forward to see how this evolves next year.

If you have an iPhone you can find the updated app here: Microsoft Power BI – iTunes

Power BI – Enterprise Gateway

I am really pleased to see that they have moved so quickly with regards to getting the Enterprise Gateway for Power BI to support both Multi-Dimensional and Tabular models of SSAS. As well as already providing the support for SQL Server direct connectivity. As well as to SAP HANA.

I my opinion I do think that Microsoft is moving in the right direction and starting to provide some functionality for some of their Enterprise customers. And this is one tool that I know will be used to make the administration and access to in premise data sources that much easier.

As well as something that I will be using in the future.

You can find out the details here: Power BI Gateway Enterprise now supports live connections to Analysis Services and SAP HANA

Power BI – Printing

Just a quick note that they now have made it really easy to print your Power BI reports directly from Power BI.

Power BI – AT Internet Content Pack

Here is another great content pack from Microsoft. This time it is related to AT Internet, which help you get insights with your data. And this is yet another valuable content pack that can help its customers and potentially yourself quickly gain the insights to the information you have, to get the best return.

You can find more information here: Explore your AT Internet data in Power BI

SQL Server 2016 – eBook

Microsoft released this eBook, which I personally thought was the perfect timing. With a lot of people being on holidays it did mean that we have the time to read the book.

I downloaded it onto my mobile device, and while I did not read every single page, I did read most of the book. And I thought it was a great read. Not too technical, but it did give a lot of information on the sections that they put into the book. I was particularly interested in the Row Level Security (which I found in my mind has a similar implementation to SSAS), the Stretch Database (which I can foresee being used for large old data sets that are still required to be online, but not accessed frequently) and then Reporting Services.

I did read the entire Reporting Services section, and I enjoyed reading about the printing and how they have finally removed the Active X control. As well as the option to Export to Power Point, which I think a lot of people have been doing manually in the past. As well as other sections which I have read in separate blog posts in the past (Pining SSRS reports to Power BI, New Chart Types)

You can find out the information here: Free eBook: Introducing Microsoft SQL Server 2016: Mission-Critical Applications, Deeper Insights, Hyperscale Cloud, Preview Edition

And you can download it from here: Free eBook – Printable Copy

SQL Server 2016 – Mobile Report Publisher

It was great to see that Microsoft was able to meet their own deadline and have another release of SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.2 which included the new SSRS features.

And as we can see from the picture above they have incorporated the SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher, as well as the application to download and install. Along with this there is also a great blog post by Christopher Finlan which walks you through how to get this up and running.

You can find out all the details here: Mobile Report Publisher preview now available

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI Desktop (Date Hierarchy) – Power BI(Timeline Slicer Visual, Pin Excel Range to Dashboard, Power BI User Groups, Weekly Service Update, Visual Studio Application Insights Content Pack) – Microsoft BI Reporting Road Map – SQL Server 2016 SSIS Updates

With the Pass conference completed last week there has been a lot of information about SQL Server 2016 and the future does indeed look bright for BI within the Microsoft BI stack. And I personally think that in the future they will be leading in most of the BI areas.

I am not going to go into all the details as this has been covered in a whole host of other blogs that I follow. And I am sure that a lot of the people reading my blog have already found out all the new amazing news.

So here we go with all updates from the past week.

Power BI Desktop – Date Hierarchy

The above screenshot was taken from Jen Underwood, which is showing how in the future version of Power BI Desktop it will have the ability to be able to create the Date Hierarchy for you. I am sure it will be in a not too distance release.

Power BI – Timeline Slicer Visual

As promised as Pass last week here is another great Custom Visual available in Power BI.

I can see this being used a lot, as I have used it in Excel in the past and it does allow users the ability to slice their data by Month to Date, Year to Date, Quarter to Date etc…

You can find all the custom Visualizations here: Power BI Custom Visualizations

Power BI – Pin Excel Range to Dashboard

Another feature that will be coming to the Power BI Service is the ability to Pin an Excel Range into your Power BI dashboard.

I think that this will be really useful, because Excel does some things really well. And often it can show you a lot more information, which can easily be digested instead of trying to replicate it Power BI.

Power BI – User Groups

This is another great incentive, as I think as the momentum grows with Power BI this will be a great way to network with like-minded people.

As well as learn from other people who I have no doubt will have some amazing idea’s and experience to share.

Here are the details if you are interested to Sign up or see if there are people in your area: Power BI User Groups are here!

Power BI – Weekly Service Update

There were some interesting updates this week, which is that you now get a guide in what you want to do in Power BI.

As well as now individuals can also sign up for Power BI. I do think that this is a very clever move. As there are a lot of people who potentially might use it at work, and then want to use it for their personal projects. Along with this you can get the general public to start using this service. And often this can attract a larger crowd than the amount of people that will be exposed to the Power BI service. Which in turn could get Power BI into a company!

And finally is the duplication of an existing report. Which often can help when you want it to be very similar and do not want to have to re-create it all from scratch!

You can find out all the details here: Power BI Weekly Service Update

Power BI – Visual Studio Application Insights Content Pack

This week’s Content Pack is about Visual Studio applications and can give you insight into your applications that you have created and can show you potentially where you have issues.

You can find out how to use the content pack and more details here: Explore your Application Insights data with Power BI

Microsoft BI Reporting Road Map

As has been blogged quite extensively it is the first time since I have started my career in BI, that there has actually been a roadmap for BI from Microsoft.

I have to say it is great that we now have this visibility, because it means we can plan for what is coming. And incorporate some of the new changes into our existing and to be delivered projects. Which means we will be in a position to show the people in our business something that is new and fresh.

And the way that I see it, people like to see things change. Not everyone in the business, but at times even if the charts just change slightly or there is something additional it can mean that there is great adoption. It also shows that it is not something that been developed and never looked at again!

I do feel that they are focusing a lot on SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular. And for good reason, this product is playing catch up. It is also being used in Power BI, which we all really love and are using more often. And I can see that we are also starting to get the best of both worlds. And by that I mean we are getting a lot of the functionality from SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional, as well as from TSQL. Which means that we can leverage the best of both.

You can find out all the information about the BI Reporting Roadmap here: Microsoft Business Intelligence – our reporting roadmap

SQL Server 2016 – Integration Services Update

The link below are all the updates from Wolfgang Strasser (w|t) with regards to all the great updates that are coming to SSIS 2016.

I am looking forward to see how the Package Control Flow Templates, as the way I see, this will mean that you can leverage creating the template once, and then reuse it again and again. So for example if you create a Package Control Flow Template for a Slowly Changing Dimension Type 2. You can then use this in your framework for all your other developers.

You can read his blog post here: SQL Server 2016 Integration Services (SSIS) –Summary of SQL Pass Summit 2015 session

BI-NSIGHT – SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.0 (SSAS, SSRS, SSIS) – Power BI (Chiclet Visual, SparkPost Content Pack, Weekly Service Update, Personal Gateway Update, Tiles in SharePoint)

I expected this week to be a really interesting week with SQL Pass happening. As I was sure to see some really good and interesting updates from Microsoft and it sure is living up to this.

There has been a lot of information on Twitter and on other blogs, so here is my take on the developments.

SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.0 (SQL Server Database Engine, SQL Server Analysis Services, SQL Server Reporting Services, SQL Server Integration Services)

There was a whole host up dates with SQL Server 2016 CTP 3.0, which is great to see, as well as some announcements of what we can expect in subsequent releases.

I am just going to highlight below what I think is relevant in the BI space. But there will be links below where you can find the related blog posts, which have more information from the Microsoft teams.

SSAS

With regards to SSAS, it is good to see how much effort and work is going into the Tabular model. Which is what I thought would be the case.

I think that it is really great to see that they have changed the underlying structure from XMLA to JSON. The way that I see it, this is how they have implemented Power BI in terms of having the SSAS database sitting in memory in Azure. And without a doubt I am sure that they have learnt a lot, and from this they can then leverage this and bring it into the On Premise product. We all know how fast it is online!

The MDX Support for Direct Query is also a great update. I can see a lot of people leveraging this, and when you partner this with APS you can pretty much start to enable real-time analytics. Which can be a real game changer.

All the other updates that are coming into SSAS have mostly been completed either in Power BI Desktop or in Excel 2016. So it is great to see this in the Server product which will go a long way to ensure that it can scale and perform for enterprise workloads.

SSRS

I have eagerly been waiting to see what was going to happen in the SSRS space. And whilst I had seen some of the now released information it is great to see it being released to the general public. As well as how well it has been received.

The pinning of SSRS reports into Power BI is a really smart move. And the ability to also refresh this report in Power BI is pure Genius. What this means now is you can leverage both of your On Premise and cloud investments. And to the users this will be seamless.

What I also really like is that you can often create really interesting SSRS reports, and the executives and high level managers do not need to see the details. They just want an overview. And now by leveraging this all into Power BI, it becomes their one stop shop!

SSIS

There does not seem to have been a lot of love for SSIS, and to be honest it is a stable and really good product.

But what I did see is the Control Flow Template, and I am hoping that this is something similar to what you can currently do with BIML. What that is how I perceived it to be. And I am hoping that you can create different control flow templates for different control flows. So for example you could create a control flow template for a SCD Type 2. And then once you have it designed the way that you want, any other developers can then utilize it. This would go a long way in enterprises where you want to standardize the way of doing things.

You can read about all of the above here:

Power BI – Chiclet Visual Slicer

The one thing that I have been struggling with in Power BI was how to get a slicer to work, so that it looked good.

And low and behold there is a new visualization which can how do this. And to have it with images also is really smart. As people love to click on Images.

Another great announcement was from James Phillips that Microsoft would be releasing a new visualization every month, indefinitely. This is really great and I am sure that we will see some really interesting and useful visualizations in the future.

You can read all about it here: Visual Awesomeness Unlocked: The Chiclet Slicer

Power BI – SparkPost Content Pack

This week there is another interesting and great Content Pack. This time for SparkPost. Which you can now use to monitor your Email campaigns.

You can read about it here: Monitor Your SparkPost data with Power BI

Power BI – Weekly Service Update

Not only was there a host of announcements at SQL Pass, there was the weekly Power BI Service update.

Once again I am going to quickly highlight what there is in this week’s update.

They have made quite a few improvements with regards to the way we can share the dashboards in Power BI. All of these updates make it a lot easier to share the dashboard and to enable people to see how good Power BI is. The additions are (Sharing the Dashboards with AD Groups, People Picker and Sharing with a large number of Email addresses)

Along with this is the ability to start passing parameters into the URL. I have no doubt that passing URL parameters will keep on increasing and giving additional flexibility in the Power BI service.

You can read about it here: Power BI Weekly Service Update

Power BI – Personal Gateway Update

There was an update late last week for the Power BI Personal Gateway and it is mostly around bug fixes and performance improvements. Which is great to see because I do know that often we want it to run as smoothly and quickly as possible

You can find more information here: New version of Personal Gateway is now live!

Power BI – Tiles in SharePoint

And finally the guys from DevScope have now created a Power BI Tile for SharePoint.

I think that this will work really well, because it will give the ability to showcase all the work done in your Power BI reports, as well as not having to re-create reports over and over again.

If you want to find more details and pricing, you can find it here: Power BI Tiles for SharePoint

BI-NSIGHT – Power BI (Custom Visuals, Visual Contest Winners, Row Values in Q&A Answers, Desktop Update, Weekly Service Update, Mobile App Update, Azure Enterprise Content Pack) – Datazen (Windows Publisher 7 App)

Once again in the past two weeks, the Microsoft machine has been adding more features and user requests to Power BI.

It continues to amaze me at how quickly they can get things into the product, as well as continuing listening to what the community looking for and responding.

Let’s get into all the details!

Power BI – Custom Visuals

I have read and also thought about this during the Power BI Visual contest, in terms of how they were going to be able people to get these amazing new visualisations into the product. And low and behold we now know how this can be achieved.

What amazes me is that they have created something that is so simple (to import the visualization), as well as by keeping it on an open source framework there is never any person who can monetize their visualization. And this is really great because it means that people will share and use other peoples great work. As well as promote Power BI.

I have to be honest I have not seen what the other competitors are doing with regards to this, but I am sure that they must be worried. The pace that Microsoft is delivering changes, as well as extending Power BI back to the users is incredible. And the way I see it, it is leaving the competitors in their dust. And this makes me really happy to be part of the Microsoft story. As well as making my job a whole lot easier.

You can read more about it here: Visualize your data, your way using custom visuals in Power BI

Power BI – Visual Contest Winners

This competition was a great idea from Microsoft and did show how smart and creative people are.

There were some amazing entries and worthy winners.

You can find out more about the competition here: Power BI Best Visual Contest – Announcing the Contest Winners!

Power BI – Using Row Values to answer questions in Q&A

This was something really interesting which I saw in Jen Underwood’s blog post.

It is now that Q&A will not only look for information in the Column names, but also in the row values.

This is really incredible and will mean that you can get even more answers from your data. As well as be able to have more creative questions for your end users.

Power BI – Desktop Update

Once again it was time for the Power BI Desktop update, and they did not disappoint.

There have been quite a few blogs from other people with regards to all of the updates. And they are all really welcome and interesting. It is great to see that they are almost in line with the updates that are happening on the service (Cloud) site.

I am not going to go into all the details, which you can read from the link further below.

But what did catch my eye, and once again I think is yet another smart move from Microsoft is to have the ability to Preview new features. I see this is a smart move, because what it is doing is to show the users of Power BI what is potentially coming down the road. But along with this, it also gives Microsoft the insight to getting valuable feedback from the real world. As well as to see who uses the preview features.

You can find out all the details about the Power BI Desktop Update here: Custom visualizations support and 22 other features in the Power BI Desktop October update

Power BI – Weekly Service Update

Another week starts to come to an end and another Power BI Service update.

This week they have listened to what the community is asking for and made the service updates.

What I really liked is the read-only members for your Power BI Groups. As often you could have spent a lot of time getting everything correct for your dashboards and your reports, to unfortunately get some user modify it.

Also having the ability to add featured questions to Q&A means you can guide and help the user find answers to their questions.

You can find more details here: Power BI Weekly Service Update

Power BI – Mobile App Update

Yet again another great update to the Power BI Mobile App.

This is a great area that they are improving on all the time. Which is really vital due to people being so mobile these days having a good mobile app means that people can leverage all the great work that was previously completed.

Having notifications, as well as making the experience faster means that people will use it more and want to interact with it more. Meaning that it will have a greater adoption with users. Along with improving the charts, as often as they say a picture is worth a thousand words.

You can find out about it all here: Power BI mobile Mid-October updates are here

Power BI – Azure Enterprise Content Pack

This I think is a really great content pack, due to having a lot of things happening in Azure, and it is often good to see what is happening within Azure.

There might be certain departments who are over utilizing Azure, and others who are not doing anything. And this gives you a great ability to see what is happening and great insights.

You can read all about it here: Visualize your Microsoft Azure Enterprise Data with Power BI

Datazen – Publisher Update for Windows 7 App

It is great to see that Microsoft is still investing time and effort into the Datazen publisher application specifically for the Windows 7 environment.

You can find more details and how to download and install the Publisher App here: Datazen Publisher for Windows 7 available now