Power View and BISM: A Short Introduction

11 January 2012 · 8 comments · 17702 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.


CJ Smit · 20 January 2012

Nice video, high quality and smooth with just enough information being presented. I have sent the link to the website and video to all my friends. Thanks and regards.

Rafal Lukawiecki · 20 January 2012

Thank you for the feedback, CJ. It helps a lot, as it is not easy to predict how well would the video play back from different parts of the world.

Piechota · 3 February 2012

Very smooth and informative session. Really will forward this one to my BI-students at Leuphana University. Thanks, regards, keep the faith.

Rafal Lukawiecki · 3 February 2012

Thank you. Let us know, please, if your students have any comments, or requests.

hxy0135 · 5 April 2012

Hi Rafal,
Could you please help me with the following two questions?
I uploaded two Power Pivot files into my Power Pivot Gallery, one have “Create Power View Report” ICon shown, one has not. What change on the xlsx should I make in order to let it show “Create Power View Report”?
I have a multidimensional cube running, can I use Power View Report on top of the cube directly? Or I need to create a tabular model one top of the cube and base on Power view Report on the tabular model?

Thank you very much!

Rafal Lukawiecki · 5 April 2012

Dear Hua, make sure that the second PowerPivot, which, you have uploaded, is PowerPivot for SQL Server 2012 (aka PowerPivot v2). Just open it in the new PowerPivot, and re-save it, then re-upload it.

If you want to use a multidimensional cube with Power View, the easiest way is to create a new Tabular Project from it, using the cube as the source of the data, on the same import wizard that you would use to get data from SQL, Oracle, Access etc. When you get the MDX screen, either compose the query, or use the query designer, which is very much like the designer you get when building a Report Builder report, to extract the data you want to have in Power View. Deploy to the server, create a BI Semantic Model Connection File (shown in this demo) and build a Power View from it.

hxy0135 · 6 April 2012

Thank you Rafal for your quick response.
Yes, that fixed the problem with my PowerPivot workbook.


ness · 20 October 2014

Hi Rafal,

So nice presentation. Thank you for sharing Rafal! :)

I am new in tabular modelling. Right now our project is to pull data from cube, I am wondering if for example we have Avg Digital Access, Sales measures from cube. Looks like all the measure are converted to Dimension and cannot be used as measure in pivot table. Do I need to recalculate this to make a measure? For example for the Sales Measure that coming from the cube, once in tabular, I just need to use the Sales:=SUM (Sales) to get the same measures value in tabular? And for example the average we compute it in cube as Digital Access/Number of Days. I tried using this Dax fnc: Avg DigitalAccess:=AVERAGEX(TableName,TableName[Digital Access]), but I am not getting match values when I compared my tabular values against the source cube. The sales in tabular is much higher same with the avg that I get from the cube.

I tried searching online but I can’t find lots of information about SSAS multidimensional as source in Tabular mostly are coming from Relational database.

Your help and advice will much be appreciated.

Thank you,