Power BI 101, What is Power BI

Many people talk about Power BI, its benefits and common challenges, and many more want to learn Power BI, which is excellent indeed. But there are many misconceptions and misunderstandings amongst the people who think they know Power BI. In my opinion, it is a significant risk in using tools without knowing them, and using the technology is no different. The situation is even worse when people who must know the technology well don’t know it, but they think they do. These people are potential risks to the businesses that want to adopt Power BI as their primary analytical solution across the organisation. As a part of my day-to-day job, I communicate with many people interacting with Power BI. Amongst many knowledgeable users are some of those who confuse things pretty frequently, which indicates a lack of understanding of the basic concepts.
So I decided to write a series of Power BI 101 to explain the basics of the technology that we all love in simple language. Regardless of your usage of Power BI, I endeavour to help you know what to expect from Power BI. This is the first part of this series.

What is Power BI?

I do not frequently get the “What is Power BI” question from my customers, my website’s comments, or my students within the training courses. It is indeed a question that I often ask people. I usually ask the question to indicate people’s level of understanding on different occasions, such as when a friend wants to know more about Power BI, or in a job interview from a candidate who applied for a Power BI related role, or my students attending a training course. Depending on the context that I ask the question, the responses are often pretty different.

It is the general rule of thumb to know what a “thing” is before using it. The “What is X?” (and X is the name of a “thing”) is a broad question, so the answer is also broad. Therefore we usually need more digging to get a better understanding of the “thing”. 

In our case, the “thing” is Power BI, so the question is “What is Power BI?”. And the answer is:

“Power BI is the Business Analytics platform part of a larger SaaS platform called Power Platform offering from Microsoft.”

Now, let’s dig a bit more with two more questions:

  • What is a Data Platform?
  • What is Saas?

Let’s quickly answer those questions.

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Quick Tips: Adding Leading Zero to Integer Values (Padding) with DAX and Power Query

Quick Tips: Adding Leading Zero to Integer Values (Padding) with DAX and Power Query

There are some cases that we want to add a leading zero to a digit, such as showing 01 instead of 1, 02 instead of 2 and so on. We have two options to do this in Power BI, doing it in Power Query or doing it with DAX.

Adding a Leading Zero in Power Query

The first method is doing it in Power Query using the Text.PadStart() function.

Here is how the syntax of the function:

Text.PadStart(text as nullable text, count as number, optional character as nullable text)

And here is how the function works:

Text.PadStart(input string, the length of the string, an optional character to be added to the beginning of the string util we reach to the string length)

For example, Text.PadStart("12345", 10 , "a") returns aaaaa12345 and Text.PadStart("1", 2 , "0") returns 01.

Let’s create a list of integer values between 1 to 20 with the following expression:

{1..20}
Creating a List of Integer Values Between 1 to 20 In Power Query
Creating a List of Integer Values Between 1 to 20 In Power Query

Now we convert the list to a table by clicking the To Table button from the Transform tab:

Converting a List to a Table in Power Query
Converting a List to a Table in Power Query

Now we add a new column by clicking the Custom Column from the Add Column tab from the ribbon bar:

Adding a New Column to a Table in Power Query
Adding a New Custom Column to a Table in Power Query

Now we use the following expression in the Custom Column window to pad the numbers with a leading zero:

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