Import Power BI Desktop Model to SSAS Tabular 2017 Using Azure Analysis Services

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NOTE: This method is no longer available (from 1st March 2019) as Microsoft discontinued supporting Web Designer in Azure portal. Microsoft is working on an alternative solution, but there is no timeframes or details to announce yet. Read more here. In the meantime, you still can import your Power BI Desktop Models to SSAS Tabular following the method described here

A while ago I wrote a blog post on how to import you currently existing Power BI Desktop models to SSAS Tabular 2016. However, the method I explained is NOT supported by official Microsoft BI tools like SSDT, so you may consider it as a WORKAROUND only until Microsoft supports imploring Power BI models in SSDT. In this post, I show you how to import Power BI Desktop Model to SSAS Tabular 2017 using Azure Analysis Services. It is easy and hassle free.

Requirements

Notes:

  • In this post I do NOT explain how to install Azure Analysis Services
  • This method works only for SQL Server Analysis Services 2017 Tabular

How it works

As mentioned earlier it is really easy in compare with other methods I explained in my previous post. Azure Analysis Services is capable of importing Power BI Desktop files creating a Tabular model version of your Power BI model in the cloud. Then you can simply download Visual Studio project file and redeploy it in your on-premises instance of SSAS Tabular 2017. Let’s go through the steps…

  • Open Power BI Desktop
  • Import data from WorldWideImportersDW from any desired combination of fact tables and dimensions. I imported
  • Create some simple Measures like:

Total Sales = SUMX(‘Fact Sale’, ‘Fact Sale'[Unit Price] * ‘Fact Sale'[Quantity])

  • Save your Power BI Model and close the file
  • Login to your Azure PortalBrowse to your instance of Azure Analysis Services
  • Click on “Open” under “Web designer—preview”

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  • This opens a new page for fabulous “Azure Analysis Services Web Designer”. You’re right, a web designer for tabular models. How cool is that? Smile
  • Click “Add” button under “Models” section
  • Yes, you got it, enter a name for your model and click “Power BI Desktop” button
  • Click “Browse” and select the Power BI file you saved earlier then click “Import”

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Exporting Power BI Data to SQL Server

Exporting Power BI Data to SQL Server

Update 2019 April: If you’re interested in exporting the data model from either Power BI Desktop or Power BI Service to CSV or SQL Server check this out. The method explained here is only applicable for Power BI Premium or Embedded capacities with XMLA endpoints connectivity.

In the previous blog posts I explained how to export Power BI data to Excel and CSV here and here. As promised in this post I explain how to export data from Power BI Desktop to SQL Server.

Hans Peter Pfister has already explained how to export data from Power BI Desktop to SQL Server using R scripts. Although Hans has done a brilliant job, it might be a bit hard to make it work if you don’t have any R experience and you don’t even know how to install and call R libraries. That’s so true about myself, I’m NOT an R guy, but, who knows, maybe I will be. Smile 

But, what if you don’t want to go with R? If you are more involved with BI than analytics, then using R might not really be your cup of tea. Luckily, there is another way to export your Power BI data to SQL Server which is more BI friendly. You can export Power BI data to SQL Server using SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services). So if you are familiar with SSIS, then it might be your your preferred choice.

With respect to Hans, in this post, I explain his method of exporting data from Power BI Desktop to SQL Server more in details so that anyone who is not that familiar with R can make it work. I also explain how to export data from Power BI Desktop to SQL Server using SSIS. If there is any other methods you’re aware of please let me know in the comment section below.

Exporting Data from Power BI Desktop to SQL Server with R

As stated before, Hans has already explained this method here. So I don’t explain exactly what he did, but, I use his method to export data from existing Power BI Desktop model to SQL Server and I explain it step-by-step.

Requirements

To make this method work you need to:

  • Latest version of Power BI Desktop, you can download it from here
  • Have access to an instance of SQL Server, either on your own machine or on a server in your local network to export the data to
  • Either install R for Windows, you can download it from here OR using an existing R-Server OR install SQL Server 2016 R Services
  • Install RODBC library for R, you can download the library from here

Note: I haven’t installed R Studio and nothing went wrong.

Installing RODBC Library for R and SQL Server R Services

As mentioned earlier, you can install R OR SQL Server R Services OR R-Server, but, as I haven’t tried R-Server myself I just explain how to install RODBC in R and SQL Server R Services.

You have to download the library from the link provided above, then extract the contents of the zip file which contains a “RODBC” folder. Then all you really need to do is to copy the “RODBC” to the “library” folder exists in either R or SQL Server 2016 folders in your “Program Files” folder.

Library folder in R

Library folder in SQL Server 2016

How Does It Work?

Open an existing Power BI Desktop model that you’re willing to export its data to a SQL Server table and follow the steps below: (I use “Internet Sales” model created on top of AdventureWorksDW. You can download my Power BI Desktop model at the end of this post.)

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Download Power BI Reports from Power BI Service

Download report from Power BI Service

A new cool feature added to Power BI Service is the ability to download Power BI reports from Power BI Service. This feature is highly demanded and it’s available from November 2016. I was really excited when I noticed that and I had to try it straight away. I was in a bus back to home on Friday, but, I couldn’t wait until I get home and test this cool feature. So I created a personal hotspot and started testing it in the bus. To make the level of my excitement clearer, I should reveal a secret. I get motion sick in the bus very quickly. It gets worth when I read something, even reading a text on my mobile. Man, it’s really horrible feeling. Knowing that I’ll potentially get sick, I turned on my tablet (a Windows 10 tablet of course) to test this new cool feature. So I logged into my Power BI Service account, I opened a report, clicked File menu and this is what I got

Inactive Download report from Power BI Service

But, why?

Two possibilities jumped into my head immediately:

  • The dataset of this particular report is not supported at the moment
  • The “Download report” feature is NOT supported in my area

So I opened Power BI Desktop and created a report on top of an Excel file very quickly, then I published it to the service and voila! It worked. So it is also available in my area.

 

Download report from Power BI Service

But, what was wrong with the previous report though? The dataset?

I checked the report’s dataset, it was on-premises SQL Server. Could it be a problem?

I created another Power BI report in Power BI Desktop on top of adventure works on SQL Server 2016. I published the model and interestingly the download report feature was still active. So how on earth I shouldn’t be able to download that report?

Well, I was in the bus, wobble about and I was feeling that the motion sickness symptom is coming for me and there were a bunch of “whys” in my head.

So I had to experiment some other datasets as well. I tested the following datasets:

  1. CSV files
  2. Folder
  3. SQL Server Direct Query
  4. SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) Multidimensional (Connect Live)
  5. SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular
  6. From Web
  7. Azure SQL Database
  8. Azure SQL Data Warehouse

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Webinar Materials: Power BI Under the Hood

Pass DW BI VC Power BI Under the Hood with Soheil BakhshiI’d like to thank you all for attending the webinar held on 30th September 2016. I talked about some amazing under cover aspects of Power BI Desktop model. In this session you learnt:

If you’ve missed the webinar you can watch it online here:

Download the Power Point presentation file here.:

Download (PPTX, 1.91MB)

Here is the PDF version of presentation:

Download (PDF, 534KB)