Friday, July 3, 2015

My first Power BI report without Excel

Hi Project addicts!

We recently had a lot of new announcements about PowerBI, embedding components such as Power Pivot, Power Query, Power Map, enabling auto refresh, etc... So I decided to roll up my sleeves and get into it with my new Project Online demo tenant. Moreover, since I'm not a developer, I'm always willing to discover reporting tools which don't require any development skills.

Funny thing (or not...), I still do not have Excel 2013, I'm stuck with an old version of Excel 2010, preventing me from installing the latest Power X add-ons to play with...

So that's it ? Obviously not, since Microsoft Power BI preview is now available, allowing you to designer powerful dashboard without even using Excel. See this reference:

So how does it work? 

First connect to with your O365 admin account. Once connected, you'll be able to download Power BI Designer. It is a client application which allows you connecting via odata protocol to your Project Online project data.
Figure 1: download Power BI Designer from Power BI Preview

You'll find all relevant information here:
You'll see that Power BI designer looks like Performance Point, in this old fashion presentation as well in the process of creating dashboards, eventhough it provides much more features and capabilities.

In Power BI Designer Preview

Once downloaded, you first create your odata connection on your Project Online instance. For the example, I retrieved projects data using the following URL:

Then I won't go into much details since there are many blogs explaining the process. Here is a very good one, very detailled:

Since I'm not a developer, I did a simple example, not playing too much with the query part but simply doing simple drag and drop operations and some formatting.
Here my first page:
Figure 2: dashboard's first page
And the second one:
Figure 3: dashboard's second page

Note that you have more advanced features such as the maps, or you can also edit the query if you are willing to, create relationships, measures and so one...

Once done, you can save your dashboard as a Power BI file (pbix format).

In Power BI Preview
Back in Power BI Preview, you can upload your dashboard. As you can see, uploading my dashboard from local drive to Power BI preview will create a data set, a report and a dashboard which can be shared will my colleagues.

Finally, I'll like to share 2 interesting features:

1- Q&A: you can type a question using a formal langage in order to find information based on your data set. This will return a graph with eventually a table, together with smart suggestions.

Figure 4: Q&A feature
From July 15th 2015, visualizations, Filter, and Field panes have been added to the Q&A. If I want to change the visual from line to bar chart, I just click on the bar chart icon.  Want to add a field to the visual, just click on the field or drag the field over to the appropriate location. 
Figure 5: vizualisations pane added to the Q&A

2- Schedule auto refresh: you can now schedule an odata auto refresh to keep your report up to date. See the article:

And just a last one for fun, where I used a "location" project custom field for a map chart in Power BI Designer to display the total projects costs by country with a slicer and a pie chart associated.
Figure 6: map chart with aa "location" project custom field, a slicer and a pie chart

Nice, isn't it?? That was just a simple example with a simple dataset and light formatting, but imagine what you could do spending a little more time on it!!

EDIT: sorry in advance for the video small size. I just tried a new capture tool and it seems like I can't get a bigger size..

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1 comment:

  1. Really good information to show through this blog. I really appreciate you for all the valuable information that you are providing us through your blog.

    Business Intelligence Developer