What started out as a rather quiet week in terms of news and what is going on within the Microsoft space, when I started going through my daily routine today there was some pleasant updates!

SQL Server 2016 Preview (CTP2)

After the Microsoft Ignite conference it was announced if I can remember correctly that there would be a SQL 2016 preview out by Summer (Living in Australia this means Winter). And it would appear that they are ahead of schedule.

I was very eager to install and see if there were any significant changes in the current CTP version of SQL Server 2016. For me this relates to the updates in SSRS, SSAS OLAP and SSAS Tabular.

I was also pleasantly surprised to see that you could create an Azure SQL Server 2016 VM. I thought this is fantastic, because I would not be required to download the 2.5Gb ISO file. I looked into my Azure Account, and at the bottom of the list under SQL Server I could see the option for SQL Server 2016 CTP2 Evaluation. So off I went, created the VM, assigned it some decent resources, and I think it total it took 10 – 15 minutes and my VM was ready for me to log in. This is a real pleasure and so easy and simple to get my hands on testing out the latest version of SQL Server.

One of the first things that I did was to see if there were any changes in SSRS. I had to quickly configure the ReportServer database, and then the URL, and I was good to go. Unfortunately when the page finally loaded it was the same look and feel that we have been used to since SQL 2008! So it is not there yet, but I am sure it is coming sooner than later!

I then also did a quick search to see if there was an updated version of SSDT, which from what I read would be part of Visual Studio 2015, and no luck here either. My thoughts were that they might have the new design interface for SSRS.

Next I went and installed SSAS Tabular, as this is not installed by default and on the Analysis Server Configuration page, I saw the following below.

After doing some quick reading, the PowerPivot Mode, is for when you want to install SSAS Tabular for SharePoint.

Another quick note, which I really thought is worth mentioning is that they are now going to provide the ability to have Ongoing Preview Updates. This is great, because if you have a found a bug or they release some new functionality you can then get this via an ongoing update.

You can read about the announcement here: SQL Server 2016 first public preview now available!

You can read all about what is new in SQL Server 2016 here: What’s New in SQL Server 2016

So that is where I am at currently with SQL Server 2016 CTP2.

SSAS Partition Manager

I have been following this for some time, as in the past I created my own framework and process in order to dynamically add or remove SSAS Partitions for SSAS OLAP.

They now have updated their software to make this process very simple and easy for you to use, but also can be done on either SSAS OLAP or SSAS Tabular. When I get the chance and opportunity I will definitely be looking into using this. A great, clean and easy way to create and manage your SSAS partitions.

You can get all the details here: SSAS Partition Manager for Tabular and Multidimensional Cubes

Power BI – QuickBooks Connector

Just a quick note, that there is another great connector for Power BI.

If you are currently using QuickBooks online, you can now use Power BI to gain some valuable insights into your data.

This is another connector that is adding to the growing list of automated connectors in Power BI! Really great to see how much momentum it is gathering.

You can find all the details here: QuickBooks Online content pack for Power BI

Excel 2016 – Updates

Just an update on what I have found when I updated my Excel 2016 preview.

Initially I did not see anything that struck me when looking at Excel. So I thought I would just use it as I currently am, and I am sure using it on a daily basis something will pop up.

And it sure did when I created a Power Pivot workbook and then dragged in a Date column into my Pivot Table, after which I then had the following automatically created for me as shown below.

I then was inquisitive and went into my Power Pivot model and I could then see the following columns below, where they were dynamically created as well if I wanted to, see the DAX that they used.

I was amazed to see that after watching it so recently online via the Channel 9, that they had already implemented it into the Excel 2016 preview version.

Continuing on using my same Power Pivot example above, I then put in a Pivot Chart, as I find that it is always easier to view the data than try and read the data.

Now if you look at the picture below in the bottom right hand corner you will see that there is a at first I was unsure what this did.

I then clicked on the Plus and what happened was is that it expanded my Date Hierarchy to the next level down which was the Hour. So both the Pivot Table and Pivot Chart was expanded. As you can see below.

I know that this is not ideally something that is way out there or over the top. But it is really useful and makes it that much easier to interact with the data. Ideally when you just have the Pivot Chart. It means that the user can drill down or drill up without having to leave the Pivot Chart!

That is it for this week, lots to still go and look at and test out thanks to the SQL 2016 CTP2!