The DAX Unichar() Function And How To Use It In Measures For Data Visualisation

April 12, 2017 Leave a comment

Great! One of my favorite feature in Tableau is now available in Power BI.

Chris Webb's BI Blog

A few weeks ago I was asked whether it was possible to display line breaks in text in a Power BI visualisation. It turns out it isn’t possible – at the moment Power BI always strips line breaks out of text when it gets loaded into the Data Model. However while researching this I came across the DAX Unichar() function, which returns the unicode character associated with an integer value – and which also seems to be completely undocumented for some reason, I guess because it’s new (it isn’t in Excel 2016 DAX yet as far as I can see).

It’s very straightforward to use: for example, the DAX expression UNICHAR(65) returns the character A; see here for a list of unicode characters and their associated codes. You can have a lot of fun with this function in Power BI when you use it to return symbols that in turn…

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Categories: BI

Tableau 10 Cross Join – An alternative way to achieve CrossJoin / Generate in MDX / DAX

November 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Just watched the Tableau Conference 16 session “Cross Database Joins: The unexpected solution to many tough analytics problems”. It is an awesome session, solved some problems which can not be solved by Tableau (before V10) alone.

Essentially, it is trying to solve the famous “event in progress” or “events with duration” questions. This kind of questions can be solved in SQL Server Analysis Services Multidimensional mode, Tabular mode, Power Pivot or Power BI since the beginning. Having said that, this also means the modelling capability of Tableau is one step closer to the OLAP (such as Power BI or Power Pivot for Excel).

A side note, now, within Tableau’s world, the near impossible accumulative distinct count should be able to achieve by this cross database join approach.

Connect any number of tables together via a common column


One of the key powers of Power BI is the ability to bring data from different sources into a single model and then join them together by creating relationships among tables to perform analysis and create reports across all the data in the unified model. But a lot of people are confused when they run into one of the errors below while trying to create a relationship between two tables inside Power BI Desktop:

  • We cannot create a relationship between ‘Table A'[Column X] and ‘Table B'[Column Y]. This could be because there is missing intermediate data to connect the two columns.
  • You can’t create a relationship between these two columns because one of the columns must have unique values.
  • You can’t create a relationship between these two columns because the ‘Column X’ column in the ‘Table A’ table contains null values.

Those who are familiar with relational database theories can appreciate the sound principles underlying…

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Categories: BI

Power Query List.Accumulate – Unleashed


Following a reader’s request, today we will unleash the power of List.Accumulate.

The official documentation on List.Accumulate here was very confusing for me:

List.Accumulate(list as list, seed as any, accumulator as function)as any
Argument Description
list The List to check.
seed The initial value seed.
accumulator The value accumulator function.

OK. I understood the list argument quite right, but the other two arguments were post-nuclear-bomb science fiction.

So let’s try to understand the example that was used in the official page:

// This accumulates the sum of the numbers in the list provided.
List.Accumulate({1, 2, 3, 4, 5}, 0, (state, current) => state + current) equals 15

Oh, so the code above sums up all the elements in the list. That is nice. Let’s make sure the calculation was done right. 1+2+3+4+5 = 15. Yes, this is right 🙂

To prove that the code works, we can paste it to the Query Editor after creating a blank query:

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Categories: BI

Embed Tableau into Microsoft Power Point 2016

April 29, 2016 1 comment

In a recent project, I was asked to embed a Tableau dashboard into Microsoft PowerPoint. Also, as we use SharePoint Online, the embedded Tableau dashboard must work in the PowerPoint Online environment.

So far, the best option I found is to use an free Office Store app called “Web Viewer”: link

Once installed, you can find the icon, as shown below:Office_Store_App_Web_Viewer

Launch the app and specify the URL in the below format

With Tableau Toolbar:
https://<Tableau View URL>?:embed=y&:toolbar=yes

Without Tableau Toolbar:
https://<Tableau View URL>?:embed=y&:toolbar=no

This will allow embedding the Tableau view into the Power Point slides.


  • Microsoft official app for Power Point
  • Tableau dashboard remains fully interactive
  • Works in Office 365 and SharePoint Online environment


  • Tableau Server Single Sign On is required for seamless experience
  • As the “web viewer” only takes HTTPS for security reason, you must configure SSL and enable https on Tableau Server
  • Once SSL is enabled, you need to install the security certificate on your mobile device to get the Tableau mobile app works. Refer to the Tableau document for more details.



Categories: BI, Tableau Tags: ,

Re: Are Tableau and Power BI the future of Business Intelligence?

August 20, 2015 1 comment

Recently, I come across a LinkedIn post regarding MS Power BI and Tableau: Here

I love both and I posted my comment:

No doubt Tableau offers the best interactive data visualization front end but is weak at data preparation. You always need to use Tableau together with at least one data preparation package such as Alteryx, which is popular in high end Tableau community. With the recent release of Tableau 9.0’s LOD calculation,it is closing the gap with traditional OLAP technology such as SQL Server Analysis Services Multi-dimensional mode. But not there yet, for example, the lacking of SCOPE assignment (cell value overriding). But I do admit, using Tableau is addictive. It is an art, not just a tool.

Power BI is different. Within Power BI stack, Microsoft Power Query has VERY strong self service data preparing (ETL) and sharing (shared query repository, a.k.a Data Catalog) capabilities. Power Pivot, on the other hand, is a very powerful true (multi-tables) data modelling engine. You can build full dimensional modelling in Power Pivot and you can scale up from desktop based Power Pivot to server based SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular cube. Combined with the next generation SQL Server 2016, it is deeply integrated into the whole Microsoft Data Platform not just BI but whole data management landscape.

Categories: BI, Power BI, Power Query, Tableau

Use Power Query to connect to Salesforce custom domain

February 14, 2015 2 comments

Power Query Salesforce connector is great but it does not support Salesforce custom domain at the moment.

Well, that is the limitation of using the PQ UI. You can actually make it work if you use M directly.

With the help of Curt Hagenlocher from Microsoft, I figured out how. What he said:

You should be able to use a custom domain in Power Query itself by manually editing the formula to include the login domain name. That is, instead of
You’d have



Categories: BI, Power Query Tags: ,