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«November 2015»

DirectQuery in Power BI Desktop

In the latest Power BI Desktop a new Preview features was released that now allows you to connect using DirectQuery to either SQL Server or Azure SQL Databases.  DirectQuery is a really neat feature that allows you to point to the live version of the data source rather than importing the data into a data model in Power BI Desktop. 

Normally when you want to get an updated dataset in the Power BI Desktop you would have to manually click the refresh button (this can be automated in the Power BI Service), which would initiate a full reimport of your data.  This refresh could take a variable amount of time depending on how much data your have.  For instance, if you’re refreshing a very large table you may be waiting quite a while to see the newly added data. 

With DirectQuery data imports are not required because you’re always looking at a live version of the data.  Let me show you how it works!

Turning on the DirectQuery Preview

Now, because DirectQuery is still in Preview you must first activate the feature by navigating to File->Options and settings->Options->Preview Features then check DirectQuery for SQL Server and Azure SQL Database


Once you click OK you may be prompted to restart the Power BI Desktop to utilize the feature.

Using DirectQuery in Power BI Desktop

Next make a connection either to an On-Premises SQL Server or Azure SQL database.

Go to the Home ribbon and select Get Data then SQL Server.


Provide your Server and Database names then click OK. ***Do not use a SQL statement.  It is not currently supported with DirectQuery***


From the Navigator pane choose the table(s) you would like to use.  I’m just going to pick the DimProduct table for this example and then click Load.  You could select Edit and that would launch the Query Editor where you could manipulate the extract.  This would allow you to add any business rules needed to the data before visualizing it.


Next you will be prompted to select what you want to connect to the data. Again, Import means the data

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The Big Data Blog Series

Over the last few years I’ve been speaking a lot on the subject of Big Data. I started by giving an intermediate session called “Show Me Whatcha’ Workin’ With”. This session was designed for people who had attended a one hour introductory session that showed you how to load data, to look at possible applications … Continue reading The Big Data Blog Series
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Alternating Group Colors

  • 1 June 2010
  • Author: briankmcdonald
  • Number of views: 12711

Formatting reports can be a fun process. I personally look at myself as a Monet or Picasso when creating my reports. I start off with a blank canvas (report), get my materials to paint with (data for my report) and then I get to paint my masterpiece (report). Or at least that’s my goal when creating reports! J At any rate, we have all seen examples on how one could alternate row color of a tabular style report, but not too often does one come across an example where one could alternate the colors of entire groups of records. As such, I have provided a quick snippet you can use to tweak a report to have alternating group colors.

=IIF(RunningValue(Fields!Category.Value,COUNTDISTINCT,NOTHING) MOD 2 = 0,"PaleGreen","White")

As shown in figure 1 below, select the row you want to apply the alternating colors expression on (shown by the RED SQUARE). Then open the properties for your selection. Navigate to the Fill – Background Color property (shown by the YELLOW HIGHLIGHT) and enter the expression shown above.

Figure 1: Sample

Example Design

Using the AdventureWorks database as my source and the above sample, you will have similar results as I have below.

Figure 2: Alternating Group Color Results (Zoomed Out)


For your convenience, I have included a zip file containing this example project. You can download it HERE.

Since I am writing this in order to help others and if you have found this article helpful, please rate it below. If you would like to provide constructive criticism to help me provide the information that you would like to see, I would love to hear that as well!

Until next time, “keep your ear to the grindstone” – Good Will Hunting


Brian K. McDonald, MCDBA, MCSD
Business Intelligence Consultant – Pragmatic Works Consultants

Email: | Blog: BI Developer Network

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