Keeping up with Power BI

Power BI, or even other self-service business intelligence tools have very short release cycles. A set of features that you see wished for, magically appears the next month. You deem yourself a Power BI expert, a few months of working on another project, you come back, you see the changes that Power BI has gone through; it is enough to make you feel incompetent a grown man cry. For example, just last month, when I was speaking at SQLSaturday in Nepal, a question was posed as to how one could implement row-level security in Power BI. I answered that it was only possible via Analysis Services live connection. And guess what, perusing through some articles a few days later I come across that Microsoft had in fact announced role based security for Power BI (to secure rows).

To keep up with all these madness, there needs to be a method; and Microsoft provides means for the methods, and here’s a list of them that you could use to keep yourself sane with the changes going on with Power BI:

The Power BI blog: an invaluable site that publishes announcements in detail as to what is coming, what has been released in the latest update, and innovations etc. A bi-weekly read (at the beginning and the end of the week) to keep your mind afresh of what’s being going on.

The Power BI twitter handle: Keeps you up to date as to what’s new with links to the blog, things you can learn about, what Power BI enthusiasts are up to, tips and tricks and juicy tidbits. A daily read in the morning and in the evening is recommended.

The Power BI community: A wonderful way of getting to know what issues people like yourself are coping with, what solutions are out there, or you could even jump in and help. A weekly glance through is recommended, with additional time spent on something tht interests you.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed by what Power BI has become, I’m sure you wouldn’t really feel it.

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Learning Power BI

Two questions that was repeated several times after my presentation at SQLSaturday Nepal this year were “How do I get started with Power BI?” and “Do I need prior knowledge on BI concepts to learn Power BI?”. I’ve had these questions directed at me at other times too.

I’ll answer the second question first. No, you need not know all sorts of BI concepts to learn Power BI. Power BI is BI for the masses. Which means you have a whole bunch of non-technical people in there, and it would not be fair to make them all learn every intricate business intelligence principle and theory. Self-service business intelligence is all about putting data in the hands of the user; the business analysts, power users and end users. Self-service business intelligence follows the principle of data discovery, where the user pulls in data of interest from various sources, mashes them up and then interactively visually analyzing the data to come to a conclusion. To do this the user must not be overwhelmed by principles and theories.

To answer the second question, learning Power BI is made easy, and I will tell you how:

Guided Learning: This is a series of tutorials including video lessons. Each lesson being only a few minutes, it is an ideal way to learn Power BI at your own pace.

Power BI Documentation: With more information on the various aspects of Power BI, the documentation section makes it an easy stop to get more sense into why something may not be working and what you can do to get something working.

Power BI Community: The ever present community around Microsoft products can be found for Power BI too. When you are really stuck, this is where you go to get solutions to your problems solved. And vice versa, you too could help out others with their problems.

Submit Ideas: Looking for a feature that you really need, and Power BI does not have it? You can submit your own idea, and based on the votes you get, there is a chance that you might have that feature incorporated in a future release. In fact a lot of new features do come from ideas submitted as feedback; making Power BI truly the mass’s tool.

Use these resources for your Power BI learning needs, and I think you should be golden.