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Power View and BISM: A Short Introduction

11 January 2012 · 8 comments · 18120 views

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Power to the User, Power to the BI Developer

This is a free, 10-minute introduction to Power View and BISM, we also have another, 16-minute, video about Power View, focused on interactive geospatial data mapping. If you are looking for an in-depth video tutorial on Power View, have a look at the 75-minute video Introduction to Power View, which is part of our full-length Microsoft Business Analytics and BI online course. Similarly, the full-length, 80-minute Introduction to BI Semantic Model can be found here.

Power View, part of SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services (SSRS) and Excel 2013, promises to make self-service reporting more productive, fun, and perhaps even exciting, thanks to new visualisations, such as the animated Scatter Plot (bubble chart). Only a few years ago, Hans Rosling, an always amazing to watch, Swedish professor of statistics, showed the world gathered at 2006 TED conference that data spanning periods of time can be easier to understand if we engaged our senses by animating otherwise pretty normal charts.

Six years later you can do just that with your own data, all by yourself, using the Scatter Plot feature in Power View. Actually, you can do more, as you can also use the size, and even the colour of the bubbles to present even more information. In this video (02:14) you can see a working bubble chart, and a bit later (05:13) you get to see how to create it from a BISM loaded in SQL Server Analysis Services 2012 Tabular Mode.

But why stop at using animation to show only the progress of time? How about animating your data where the Play Axis is another dimension, such as the stage in a sales cycle, or, perhaps, the level of customer satisfaction. In fact, there is no limit to what you can use as the baseline of an animation, and while some dimensional combinations might be a bit strange, there are many, as yet unexplored, opportunities for gaining more insight into your even oldest data sets.

BI Semantic Model (BISM) is an important part of this approach, as it serves as an indirection layer separating the world of analytical presentation from the world of analytical data sourcing. Its vision promises BISM to be the one and only model for all analytical user experiences. You can see a BISM representing a SSAS Tabular Mode data set, using the new SQL Server Data Tools (an evolution of BIDS, or BI Development Studio), at 03:17 in this video. The programming language of BISM is DAX, make sure to review our in-depth DAX tutoria. Towards the end of the video (09:10) you can hear a brief explanation of some key aspects of BISM.

If you would like to try Power View without having to install anything, you are in luck: this article serves as a launchpad to five live Power View demos hosted in SharePoint. They work in any browser that supports the latest version of Silverlight. Or, if you would like to install the entire technology stack, you will need to get a trial copy of SQL Server 2012 and SharePoint Server 2010.

Naturally, being part of SSRS, Power View is part of a larger family of tools—watch the SQL Server Report Builder video if you are new to this area.

Click here for our longer, and more comprehensive online training video focussed on BISM.