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Building Datazen Dashboards from Existing Power Pivot Models

Guest Post by Andrew Todd

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Build awesome dashboards for mobile and desktop using Datazen

Datazen is a great visualization tool that is free to Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise customers. If you haven’t worked with Datazen yet, check out this post by Rob and Chris! Datazen allows you to design an awesome dashboard before you even work with any data! You simply draw a visualization, and then Datazen reverse engineers the exact layout of the aggregate table that you need in order to make that visualization work.

If you already have a PowerPivot model that you use for reporting, naturally you’ll want to use it to build visualizations in Datazen rather than reinvent the wheel entirely. One way to incorporate your dozens or even hundreds of measures and model logic (not to mention dozens of hours) into Datazen visualizations is through DAX queries.

Two Paths to Datazen DAX Query Nirvana…

Ok, you’ve built a fantastic BI dashboard in Datazen and your chakras are perfectly aligned. Now, there are two enlightening paths that you could take to build tables for Datazen visualizations with DAX queries:

A) Create a new ‘Data Connection’ in Datazen to your PowerPivot model hosted on SharePoint/SSAS Tabular, using the Analysis Services Data Provider. You can automate the refresh of data with SharePoint/Power Update and in Datazen itself.

B) Query your Power Pivot model using DAX Studio and save the workbook to a One Drive folder, then import the data into Datazen. This process can also be automated using Power Update.

Let’s take a closer look at both of these methods, starting with a SharePoint hosted Power Pivot model.

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Grab Bag of Fun

Post by Rob Collie

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Assortment of Quick and Fun Topics

I keep something called Ye Olde OneNote List of Future Blog Topics.  You know, I think of something and go “ooh, that would be a good thing to write about,” so I add it to YOOLOFBT.

Problem is, said list sometimes grows a lot faster than the rate at which I produce finished blog posts.  So…  good topics just get buried sometimes.

Today, let’s make sure a few of those topics get to see the light of day.  Like children who’ve been cooped up in the house all winter, they need to go outside and play in the yard.

#1:  DataZen Post “Wins”

Last week’s post on Datazen positively shocked me with the number of page views it got.  It set the all-time record for single-day views of a given post, AND that traffic also led to the single best day for overall PowerPivotPro.com traffic.  (A rising Datazen topic lifts all posts.  Something like that.)

And it wasn’t close, either.  Both new records eclipsed the former records by healthy margins.

The take-away, I think, is that mobile visuals SELL.  This excerpt from last week sums it up nicely:

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So if you’re trying to increase Power Pivot buy-in at your company, Datazen is worth a look.  It’s a gateway drug.

#2:  Power Update Passes 2000 Downloads

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Datazen = Beautiful Mobile Dashboards to Make Power Pivot Shine

Post by Rob Collie and Chris Finlan

Datazen: A Beautiful, Mobile-Optimized Dashboard Delivery System That Makes Your Power Pivot Work Shine VERY Brightly

Datazen (The Latest Addition to Microsoft’s Suite of BI Tools) is a Mobile Monster
(Monster in a GOOD Way.  Yes, PowerPivotPro has its own DZ Custom Theme – You Can Too)

Datazen Q&A With Chris Finlan

***Intro from Rob:  Today I’m interviewing Chris Finlan of Microsoft about MS’s recent acquisition of Datazen, and what this means to us in the Power Pivot and Power BI community.

ROB:  Last month, Microsoft purchased a company named Datazen.  Most people had never heard of Datazen before, but you had pointed them out to me last summer I think.  You were already a big believer in them at that point, as were your customers.

CHRIS:  Yeah, I love Datazen.  I’m as passionate about it as you are about Power Pivot. I think it’s an extraordinary product, and have felt this way for quite some time Don’t believe me? Check out the date of my review in the Windows Store.  (Spoiler alert:  it was April of 2013 – that’s before I even applied for a job at Microsoft).

ROB:  You’re truly a trendsetter in tech and clothing.  I think one of the natural first reactions/questions from the community is, “wait, did MS just buy one of Power BI’s competitors, and if so, when do I use it versus, say, Power Pivot?”

CHRIS:  No, DZ was designed from the beginning to “only” be a visualization layer on top of the Microsoft Data Platform.  In your post on Visualizations Layers in Perspective: The Last Mile, you pointed out three key reasons at the end on why you’d buy a visualization tool.  Datazen checks all three boxes (and oh by the way, there’s no longer anything to buy – it’s simply a benefit you receive when you license SQL Server Enterprise with Software Assurance).

ROB:  Which means it’s free for many existing MS customers.  More on that later.  But I also want to talk about how DZ can be used to “light up” the great work being done by Power Pivot practitioners, because hey, that’s what we do around here.

Any Flat Table in Excel Can “Power” a Datazen Dashboard

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EX:  Power Pivot Produces a Flat Pivot (or DAX Query Table),
and DZ Can Use That Excel File as a First-Class Data Source.
(The ONLY Server Required Here is a DZ Server – No SharePoint, No SQL, No SSAS)

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