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Coffee Talk

Welcome to an experimental new feature here at PowerPivotPro, where members of the team discuss various topics related to Power BI, Power Pivot, and Analytics/BI in general. These conversations take place during the week on a Slack channel, and are then lightly edited for publishing on Friday.

This Week’s Topic: The PowerPivotPro Team Gazes into the Power BI Crystal Ball

For the first installment of our weekly Coffee Talk leading up to the Microsoft Data Insights Summit in June we will be discussing the enormous strides the Power BI team is making recently.

But first, let me introduce the team members we brought in for this week’s Coffee Talk, and their role within the PowerPivotPro team:

Myself, Kellan Danielson – I joined the P3 team in 2015 as a Consultant and am now responsible for ensuring we offer the highest level of service to everyone we interact with.


Austin Senseman – My counterpart, Austin joined the P3 team as a Consultant as well in 2015 and is now responsible for ensuring P3 functions like a well oiled machine.


Ryan Sullivan – Our newest Principal Consultant, Ryan is an expert in an annoying amount of tools and query languages. He is right at home here at P3 and is already making his presence known.


Matt Allington – Our Australian DAX aficionado, Matt is an unmatched resource for the team and also runs the blog


Reid Havens – One of our Principal Consultants, Reid provides consulting and training to some of our largest clients in the Seattle area as well as becoming a common voice on the blog.



Channel created April 4th. This is the very beginning of #coffeetalk_apr7 channel. Purpose: Weekly roundtable of what went on in the company, on the blog, in the wider community that we think is worth talking about!


2017-04-04 01:15
April Power BI Desktop updates are incredible this month. Let’s kick off this run of Coffee Talks leading up to the Microsoft Data Insights in June. Here is a link to the summary from Amanda Cofsky from the PBI Desktop team.


2017-04-04 01:19
I would like to zero in on one update in particular as it’s game changing in my mind before we jump into some others. Being able to Connect to Dataset in from Power BI Desktop. This is such a huge game changer and am already queuing up emails to clients on this one! Now we can literally have one source of record for Datasets in the Service without having to spin up another PBIX file. What are everyone’s thoughts on this update? How should folks be thinking about this as it pertains to their data strategy? What are the gaps in this preview release that the PBI team should know about?


2017-04-04 02:51
I’m loving the idea. It’s a great way to give report users a way to experience something akin to having a centralized tabular model, but without the need to have a server to host it. Pair this with “Analyze in Excel” and you can have a large amount of reports connecting to a single model. Fantastic


2017-04-04 16:57
@matt also posted a great article talking about the Quick Measures (Preview) now available in Power BI as well. SUPER useful for those who are just starting to get into DAX and can watch the software write the code for them.



2017-04-04 17:06
PowerBI hasn’t quite gotten a PivotTable equivalent. The Matrix Preview is a PBI visualization on the cutting edge of getting there and this month’s update provides column sorting, column resizing, and word wrap!


2017-04-04 17:08
The PBI Desktop connection to PBI Service files is an enormous step in the right direction for full cross-compatibility between PBI and Excel (keeping in mind that the DAX engine is the DAX engine, whether found in Excel/PowerPivot or PBI)


2017-04-04 17:54
I :heart: the Matrix Preview


2017-04-04 20:08
I do still miss the pivot table when I’m working in Power BI and yes they are moving in that direction – that new matrix just gets me excited in all the right ways!


2017-04-04 20:09
And also I just clicked through the “Quick Measure” functionality …


2017-04-04 20:12
The quick measure thing is removing an enormous bottleneck in peoples ability to create analysis, that enormous bottleneck is DAX. I’ve gotten emails from colleagues over the past few years saying “Do you really think *everyone* can learn how to use DAX?” and my answer has always been “Everyone who can use a pivot table and write a vlookup can learn DAX” but that still left out a bunch of folks. Now it seems that DAX barrier is fading away. As much as I love teaching people how to use CALCULATE, I couldn’t be more excited for this development.


2017-04-04 20:14
It’s getting harder and harder to say that Power BI isn’t the first choice (vs. Power Pivot) when building a data model with all these new features.


2017-04-04 20:19
I agree. It’s getting to the point where my DEFAULT is Power BI for reporting, and only the special exceptions are now being built in Excel.


2017-04-04 20:19
It was the reverse a year ago


2017-04-04 20:23
I think I still like Power Pivot more (assuming we’re talking about Excel 2016) and that’s probably just a lot of old habits refusing to die. Going back to the comment about the new PBI matrix vs the Excel pivot table. The pivot table is still the best reporting tool ever made and the new matrix in PBI, while a step in the right direction, isn’t close yet to what a pivot table can do. just my humble opinion, and i reserve the right to change my mind in 3-6 months :slightly_smiling_face:


2017-04-04 20:54
There’s still a lot of things *cough* macros *cough* that you can HIGHLY customize in Excel that just isn’t available in PBI.


2017-04-04 20:54
Benefit of that locked environment, more stable in PBI. Double edged sword for both (in my opinion). Always fun to think about which would provide the best environment when developing a new report :slightly_smiling_face:


2017-04-05 11:49
Going back to the quick measures feature, is there any DAX that this feature won’t be able to write automatically _over time_? A big part of our business is teaching people DAX, so let’s just have a real up-front conversation about it. How does this affect companies like us?


2017-04-05 16:46
I think the same argument can be made for any software that creates generated scripts for code (E.g. SQL, json, M, etc…) For really straight forward and simple queries I can definitely see it being automated (like they’re doing now). Creating complicated DAX formulas that reference multiple time intelligence functions, using addcolumns, values, etc… I think will be really hard to automate.


2017-04-05 17:05

I think to truly talk about DAX’s future we need to know what DAX _really_ is… a query language. What other query language can we use as an example? SQL! In it’s various forms, there are loads of GUIs that allow users easy access to functionality. However, in 43 years nothing has quite been able to take the place of someone in the driver’s seat.

Let’s also take a look at a GUI that does a great job of creating code… PowerQuery. People still spend time and money working with me and other members of the team learning how to use the GUI.

So… even if the GUI does a great job of automating DAX, I feel comfortable that there will still be a market for us to empower business users by showing them how to use it and that there will also always be work for us as advanced DAX consultants.


2017-04-05 17:08
Fully agree about the Get and Transform GUI! That comment is also a great segue to mention that even despite the ability to do a TON of things using that user interface (for which countless people still need to be trained even how to use). To do the really cool/awesome stuff in there, you need to know how to throw open the advanced editor and get dirty with some code writing in there. A lot of which doesn’t have any equivalent in the GUI to accomplish.


2017-04-05 17:56
I love you guys


2017-04-06 04:41
I would like to change the discussion to all the updates Power Query got this month.


2017-04-06 04:44
There was so so many new features added. The option to split columns into rows instead of separate columns, the new new add column by example which helps you write m code, and my personal favorite is the ability to use this search feature (image) to go to a column in a WIDE table. That last one I will find super helpful. I can think of many times where I simply scrolled through the query preview trying to find a column on a super wide table. This will save so much time and effort. This honestly might be my favorite update release of this year, if not the last 6-8 months.


2017-04-06 15:02
Best news is that we all know they’re holding out on all the best new features for the Data Insights Summit! Let’s wrap it up for the week. Lightning round question. What do you think is going to be the biggest power bi related announcement at the Data Insights Summit?


2017-04-06 15:08
Filter Columns in Data Table View… hopefully


2017-04-06 15:20
So simple but yes that would be awesome. It’s so awkward to have to go back in the query editor to examine a table.


2017-04-06 15:56
@kellandanielson @reid @matt any prognostications?


2017-04-06 16:27
Slicers on dashboards or custom measures in workbooks with live tabular connections


2017-04-06 16:50
Love that, it’s got to be a technical challenge to get the slicers on the dashboard, but do-able. Measures on top of tabular .. that makes me think of this story. A king asks a wise man “how does the earth hold itself up in space, there must be something that supports its massive weight.” and the wise man says “The earth rests on a giant elephant, that holds up the earth.” The king then says “Well then what is supporting the elephant?” The wise man says “well there’s a giant turtle under the elephant that supports the elephant that supports the earth.” at that point the king begins to ask what’s under the turtle and the wise man stops him and says “Let me stop you right there .. it’s turtles all the way down.”


2017-04-06 16:51
I love this story and I hope this clears things up for all the Sturgill Simpson fans out there


2017-04-06 18:41
The world on a turtle makes me think of the Discword series, haha.


2017-04-06 20:58
Great question Austin. I think they are holding off some big developments for MDIS for sure. The ones, if nothing else, I HOPE will be announced are: 1) Measure Dependancy View (like the Query Dependancy View in Query Editor, 2) Printing from Power BI Desktop and just better integration with PowerPoint in general. But similar to last year, I am sure they will release something that I will not be mentally prepared for :slightly_smiling_face:


2017-04-06 21:32
Even though it’s been in the works for a while, i think Power BI fully on-prem is going to be the big story!


2017-04-06 21:33
I think you’re probably right on the money with that one.


2017-04-06 22:02
I also vote for extensible measures with a SSAS Tabular model. This will drive enterprise adoption (and our training demand) as “lay people” will want to learn how to write measures. They have listed this as “started” so who knows.


2017-04-06 22:04
Oh hey Matt!


2017-04-06 22:38
Thank you everybody so much for taking the time to contribute to our first round of Coffee Talks, running up to MDIS in June. Stay tuned next week for our next round of what’s happening in the world of Power Pivot, Power BI, and generally what’s new in the world of DIY Analytics. Until next time…


This Post Has 7 Comments
    1. Agreed mim! It’s just practical to think you would want to be able to print from any application really. I got a survey a few weeks back from the PBI team about Printing features so I’m hoping that means we are closer to getting that! 🙂

      1. the reason there is no printing yet, is because of PowerBI service, In Microsoft world view , PowerBI desktop is just an authoring tool, and you consume the reports and eventually print them in the web, now what’s happening PBI Desktop is becoming a mature product by itself and more people are using it as standalone tool or at least a visualization tool, I hope Microsoft recognize that , and stop throttling the product just to “protect” Excel , which is no sense as both serve different needs.

        I added an idea here, I don’t think it will be ever implemented, but i wanted just to say, there are a lot of people who wants a desktop Based BI solution.

        1. Completely agree. I also believe the PBI team (as well as many vendors) don’t want to take the analysis outside of the tool and that most decision makers want something they can hold in their hands or can put in a PowerPoint deck. “Leaving” the tool may come across as a con in this space but in the case of Microsoft, it’s definitely the opposite as each tool in their suite can serve multiple masters.

          The other thing that I believe is worth noting is that PBI Desktop is a place where a lot of exploration happens and wanting to print and get feedback is a natural step in the process. Publishing to for a report that likely has flaws that are being worked out is an added step in an otherwise rapid process.

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