Archive for the ‘Power BI’ Category

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.

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

Thoughts after attending the Azure Machine Learning Meetup

November 26, 2014 Leave a comment

This is a long overdue post about the feedback after I attended the Azure ML meetup  hosted by Microsoft and Big Data Analytics user group. Overall, it was a great and informative session. Big thanks to Shashank Pawar and Rami Mukhtar.

The session stated with high level overview about what Azure ML’s capability. A few demos were given to showcase how easily you can leverage the ML to turn the predictive analytics into REST API that can be invoked easily. One of the fascinating demo Shashank showed is that you can call the ML web services on the fly from an Excel formula (CodePlex project – Azure Machine Learning Excel Add-In) while filling a table in Excel. Chris Webb has also blogged about using Power Query to do sentiment analysis for Facebook posts via Lexicon based API from ML.

One of the very interesting thing during the session is that no one, not even single one, asked about what algorithms Microsoft has been added into ML. The questions are pretty much focused on How R is integrated into the ML. People had asked about the performance, parallelism, available R packages, ability to upload custom R packages etc. It looks like most people who are interested in ML are actually considering using ML as the wrapper to operationalize R execution. And I’m not sure whether Microsoft thinks the same way. Will Microsoft treat the R execution as the first class citizen in the ML stack? ML offers a graphical interface to provide basic data exploring such as data profiling etc. I doubt how many people will actually use those features. I would imagine data scientist would just use their own “tool of the choice” and only use ML to operationalize the model. Personally, I would love to see the ML evolves to a predictive analytics automation engine with rich APIs for automation rather than a standalone predictive analysis packages.

A side note, one of the data source supported by ML is Power Query! This is a great idea and I’m really looking forward to seeing more demo of using PQ together with ML.

Embedded SQL Reporting Services Reports into Tableau Dashboard

November 13, 2014 Leave a comment

I blogged about Add Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services charting capability to Tableau a few days ago. And I also blogged how to use SSRS data driven subscription to mass generate hundreds of images to be used as Tableau custom shape. However, Tableau does not support high resolution images in custom shape. Hence, I’ll show you another approach and probably an extremely powerful way: Directly Calling and Displaying a SQL Server Reporting Service Reports inside Tableau Dashboard

Look at the below two screenshot:

1 – Embeded SSRS Reports in Tableau Dashboard – with command toolbarEmbeded SSRS Reports in Tableau Dashboard - with command toolbar

2 – Embeded SSRS Reports in Tableau Dashboard – no command toolbarEmbeded SSRS Reports in Tableau Dashboard - no command toolbar

For experienced SSRS developer, I’m sure you already guess the trick: use SSRS URL access inside a Tableau Web Page control. Basically, in the first one, the URL is:

http://<SSRS Server>/ReportServer?%2fGaugeSamples%2fThermometerChart&rs:Command=Render&Value=102

and the second one is:

http://<SSRS Server>/ReportServer?%2fGaugeSamples%2fThermometerChart&rs:Command=None&Value=102

The first parameter (rs:Command) tells SSRS server whether to render the command toolbar and the other parameter (Value) tells what the Thermometer Indicator’s value should be.

Personally, I’m very excited about this integration. It opens a door of endless possibility. For example, you can:

  • Leverage existing Microsoft BI assess and integrate into Tableau dashboard
  • SSRS is able to handle pixel perfect chart rendering and can be used as a dynamic charting library inside Tableau dashboard. As you can see in the first screenshot, there is a property called “Size of the bulb at the bottom of the thermometer”. You can expose lots of properties through parameters and let Tableau to invoke them on the fly. Imagine you have drop downs in the Tableau dashboard to passing parameters to SSRS reports to precisely control the chart rendering. This is probably what Tableau is lacking of at the moment.
  • Powerful operational reports. SSRS far better superior operational reports capability than Tableau. Now you can use Tableau to give the user a high level glance and dive into super detailed details.
  • SSRS has auto refresh feature that you can let the chart to refresh every X seconds. Great for operational BI. (I have tested whether the auto refresh is working inside Tableau web page control myself. I’ll test it out later.)
  • SSRS has actions (Similar to Tableau dashboard action) that can chain various SSRS reports together to provide “guided navigation” as well as “execute some operational tasks” together with each SSRS report execution. Imagine the scenario that you deep dive into the details and then click the report action inside the SSRS report which invoke a SQL Server Integration Services Package (SSIS, Microsoft’s ETL platform) on the fly and execute a Python script to generate another Tableau Data Extract. I don’t want to dive into details. But when you bring the entire Microsoft BI stack together, you are talking about something beyond the imagination.

The Power View should work as well using this URL integration approach but at this stage, Tableau offers much better interactivity. As the Power BI platform gets more mature, maybe it is another great story. Stay tuned…

Categories: BI, Power BI, SSRS, Tableau Tags: , , ,

Floor Map Visualisation

November 6, 2014 3 comments

In a recent POC project, I have to produce the data visualization over custom images, namely, floor maps. I’ll briefly talk about what I did for Excel 2013 and Tableau 8.2.4
Excel 2013

Excel 2013 floor map visulisation

The only option is to use VBA Macro. I know, I know, VBA should be the past and we should avoid using it. However, with Excel 2013, it is the only option. Basically, I insert a image (floor map, PNG format preferred). “Format” ribbon –> “Color” –> “Set to Transparent Color”. Once you got the floor map displayed, “Insert” ribbon –> insert a shape to overlay the shape on top of the floor map. You can also set the shape to be transparent, as shown below. Of course, in the final solution, the transparent level should be controlled via the VBA code.

Excel Format Shape Pane

Excel 2013 allow you to assign Macro to all your shapes and custom images and text box. This is the entry point you can do some very powerful interactive features to your workbook.



Tableau 8.2

Tableau is no doubt the best commercial data visualization software and the overall dashboard design experience is awesome.

Tableau 8.2 floor map visulisation

Tableau 8.2 floor map visulisation

Categories: BI, Excel, Power BI, Tableau Tags: , ,

Filtering and Custom Maps arrive to Power Map with September update

September 10, 2014 Leave a comment
Categories: BI, Power BI Tags: ,