Data News – 2018 / 03

Welcome to edition 3 of my Data Platform News SELECTION. This weeks collection is a not as extensive as I planned to – but: we are having #SQLSatVienna 2018 this week and I am a “little” bit involved in organisation tasks…

Nevermind, enjoy the links…



Data Platform





Previous DataNews Selection posts:

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Data News – 02 / 2018

Welcome at edition 2 of my Data News selection of the past week. I’ve tried to capture as many links as possible. Some are brand new (like the #meltdownattach and #spectre ones), others are older but I found them this week. Take yourself some time and enjoy the reading…

PS: I am not sure if next weeks edition will be a very full one – Next week is #SQLSatVienna 2018 week and I think my upcoming week is filled with preparation work!

Security News (Meltdown, Spectre)

Documentation / Best Practices / References / Learning

SQL Server / Azure SQL Database / Azure Databases

Power BI / Business Intelligence / AI / Azure & SSAS / Azure / Machine Learning / IoT




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Data News – 01 / 2018

The new year is just a few days old and MS data platform related news and stories are floating the internet. One of my plans for 2018 is to collect the links and interesting stories I find during the week (and currently share them on twitter) and publish my Data News on my blog. I hope that I will find the time to release the data news periodically… but please be merciful with me if I get late with a new release..

Updates / Security News

Documentation / Best Practices / References

SQL Server / Azure SQL Database / Azure Databases

Power BI / Business Intelligence / AI / SSAS / Azure Analysis Services



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Check your Instance name when configuring Power BI Report Server

Today during a training session at PassCamp we encountered a small little thing to remember when configuring Power BI Report Server (PBIRS) on a server that already has SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) installed.

When starting the Report Server Configuration Manager the first dialog you see is the connect dialog:


  • Server Name – specify the name of the server hosting either SSRS or PBIRS
  • Report Server Instance – either connect to SSRS or PBIRS instance


A small option that is often overseen – but directs you to the right instance for configuration. In the RS Configuration Manager you quickly can spot the instance you are connected to in the left menu.


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Power BI documentation moved to

As of today, the Power BI documentation moved to Please do not forget to update your bookmarks to the new landing page:


Based on the infrastructure you can now provide your feedback to a certain page, share a page directly on your preferred social media channel or change the display theme for the page.


The link again:

Enjoy the reading,


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Power BI Q&A – Visual Enhancements

Today, I found out about a Power BI Q&A feature that enables you to customize the visual appearance of your Q&A results. Treb Gatte shows this feature in a short video, but I would also like to present it to you. Thanks to some of my twitter followers I got the hint that this feature is already available for (some)/ a longer time but I was not aware about it..

Nevertheless.. let’s start with the explanation.

  • Start a new Q&A session on the data set of your choice. I use the Retail Analysis Sample.
  • After you’ve entered a part of your question: the result to your entered question is displayed PLUS the Visualizations & Filter as well as the Fields! 

Q&A results (including Visualizations and Fields pane)

The new Q&A appearence – allowing visualization changes and customization!

  • Like “normal” report authoring the Visualisations pane allows you to customize the type of visual as well as additional settings changes (hint: i.e. change the data color of Q&A results! 🙂 or change the title or add data values… )

Customized visual (data colors changed, title added plus data labels)


The pinned Q&A tile – including all changed properties!

  •  You can even add your analytics features like an average line!

Q&A results with customized layout including analytics options

One tip: If you want to create a slightly changed version of your existing Q&A tile:

  • Edit the original one and change the options.
  • Pin it again and your changes are reflected in a new Q&A tile on your dashboard

Two versions of Q&A results

  • Starting with the right visual (Sales with Average) I now would like to build a chart with the TOP 5 stores. Before this update I had no change using “pure” Q&A to achieve that results. Let’s try it with the updated functionality
  • For the TOP N functionality, the chart needs to get a filter based on the Storename. Change the Filter Type to Top N and enter the required number of entries. What we also need is the measure that defines the ordering criteria… Easy job! Just open the Fields pane and look for This Year Sales (Value) in the field list. Drag&Drop it to the By value field and apply the filter! Et voila! The chart is filtered to 5 entries only!

Q&A with TOP N filtering!

  • As a result – I’ve added an additional tile to my dashboard. The results look really promising. Great customization options for Q&A!

The final dashboard including pure Q&A content


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Power BI Desktop – Query Reduction for Direct Query Models

In the November 2017 release of Power BI Desktop one feature got my attention: Query Reduction for Direct Query Models.

In some cases, sources for Direct Query models are either large (and therefore need some time to bring back the data) or slow (which could maybe be improved by some database tuning :-)).

Before the Nov2017 release, every change in a filter or slicer led to an immediate round trip to the data source which made some of those reports … let’s call it .. not perfect in the context of user experience.

Beginning with the Nov2017 release some options for Query Reduction has been introduced. Those settings can be changed in the File – Options dialog


In this blog post I am focusing on the “Show an Apply button” section. In order to work with these new settings you’ll have to enable them in the dialog.

Slicer Magic (with the Apply button)

If you are developing a new report with an underlying (Direct Query) data model plus enabled Query Reduction options you’ll get an additional Apply button for every slicer you add to your Power BI report:

pbiDesktop_Nov2017_06 Initially the Apply button is gray (which means no change in this slicers selection). If you change the slicer selection to another value you’ll see a change in the Apply buttons color.


The buttons color gets yellow but in contrast to a “normal” slicer reaction the visual itself is NOT filtered. This is exactly the behavior we wanted to see: no immediate round-trip to the underlying data source. Whenever you are ready with your selection – hit the Apply button and the query is sent to the data source. The Apply button gets gray again and the visual is filtered.


Filter Magic (Also with Apply button)

The second option in the Query Reduction section focuses on filter selections. If this option is enabled the filter functionality for Direct Query models (and their reports) change in the way that you explicitly have to apply the filter options.


Happy Power BIing,


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