If you’ve explored Microsoft’s new Power BI Designer, you’ve notice one intriguing feature: the number of sources used to pull data. With the source count growing continuously with every weekly update (it’s now up to 42), this array of options can appeal to any user, be they BI Developer or decision-making Executive. Given the quickening evolution of this product, it’s clearly in category of next generation Business Intelligence tools which will inevitably replace soon-to-be outdated options like Power Query for Excel with a web-based dashboard for ease-of-use and portability.

Also, there are tools available to cleanse your specified data prior to importing it which makes getting started easy when mashing up your data on the new dashboard. Let’s get started and walk through the process together. At first touch, the look and feel of the ‘Get Data’ navigator (as seen below) provides a familiar experience to users comfortable with existing BI features and MS Excel add-ons. Similar to look and feel of the Power Query navigator, the Get Data interface (seen below) facilitates discovery for any available data source and connects easily through a simple series of prompts.

Power BI Data Piraeus Consulting

What I also found particularly interesting was the array of expanded options available to users in contrast to the previous offerings. For instance, the ‘Web Source’ option, which a table from any page to be pulled in as malleable data. There are also a notable number of beta-tested options, like GitHub and Twilio.

Once the source type is selected, it would be wise to take advantage of the editing capabilities inside the navigator. This allows transformation and manipulation of the dataset before it’s uploaded.

When clicking on ‘Edit’ (as highlight below), Power BI Designer will automatically migrate the dataset to the editor view (shown below) allowing the data to be manipulated as needed.

Power BI Data Piraeus Consulting

Power BI Data Piraeus Consulting

Within this view, you can remove, split, and format columns, as well as append queries to clean up your dataset prior to the final import to your dashboard.  The ‘Transform tab’ in the top ribbon provides a treasure trove of options for these editing and formatting processes.

When importing multiple tables, there is now the ability to toggle between them in the menu located on the left. On the right, the ‘Applied Steps’ field keeps track of changes so users can revert back to, or undo, any transformations that have been applied. Ready to design a personalized dashboard? Click the ‘Close & Apply’ button on the far left of the ‘Home’ tab of the ribbon. At this point, there will be a clean dataset that’s ready to be visualized in any number of ways.

In a follow up post, I’ll further explore dashboard design in detail and how to ask the right questions from data to get the best optimized results.


By Drew Paxton | Consultant, Solutions and Development