Have you created a robust model in Power BI Desktop and you are looking for a way to import it to an instance of SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular? Hmm, it would be highly beneficial if you could import Power BI model to SSAS Tabular and it potentially saves lots of development time and costs. The good news is that with SQL Server 2016 and SQL Server Data Tools for Visual Studio 2015 it is possible. In this post I show you how to import Power BI Desktop model to SSAS Tabular 2016. Unfortunately, you cannot do the job in any prior versions of SQL Server, SQL Server Management Studio or SSDT.
Update1: As per April 2018, the process has slightly changes since I wrote this blog post. Now you can find it under “Downloads” tab, under “Servers” section. (Thanks to “David Shannon” for pointing this out.)
“Basic”: To quickly install basic features like SQL Server Database Engine
“Custom”: You go through SQL Server installation wizard to choose what you want to install
“Download Media”: To download SQL Server setup files and install them later
A while ago Microsoft decided to provide Developer edition of SQL Server 2014 and 2016 for free. So we should be able to download SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition for free legitimately. If you search for it on the Internet you’ll quickly find out that it is NOT that straightforward. In this post you see how to download SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition for free legally.
But, what is the difference between SQL Server Developer Edition and any other editions? Well, generally speaking, the Developer edition has all features of an Enterprise edition, but, it’s not for commercial use. To learn more about different editions of SQL Server 2016 have a look at here. I encourage you to see this datasheet as well.
To be able to download SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition for free you need to have MSDN Subscription or you can join Visual Studio Dev Essentials.
Download SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition using MSDN Subscription:
If you do have an MSDN subscription you can easily download SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition for free. Just click here and download.
Join Visual Studio Dev Essentials and Download SQL Server 2016 Developer Edition:
Joining Visual Studio Dev Essentials is free and simple. While you join Visual Studio Dev Essentials lots of benefits will get unlocked including a free SQL Server Developer Edition.
As I promised in my earlier post, in this article I show you how to leverage your Power BI Desktop model using Query Parameters on top of SQL Server 2016 Dynamic Data Masking (DDM). I also explain very briefly how to enable DDM on DimCustomer table from AdventureWorksDW2016CTP3 database. We will then create a Power BI Desktop model with Query Parameters on top of DimCustomer table. You will also learn how to create a Power BI Template so that you can use it in the future for deployment.
I’m not going to provide much details about DDM as you can find lots of information here. But, to make you a bit familiar with Dynamic Data Masking I explain it very briefly.
Dynamic Data Masking (DDM)
Dynamic Data Masking (DDM) is a new feature available in SQL Server 2016 and also Azure SQL Database. DDM is basically a way to prevent sensitive data to be exposed to non-privileged users. It is a data protection feature which hides sensitive data in the result set of a query. You can easily enable DDM on an existing table or enable it on a new table you’re creating. Suppose you have two groups of users in your retail database. Sales Persons and Sales Managers. You have a table of customers which in this post it is DimCustomer from AdventureWorksDW2016CTP3. This table contains sensitive data like customers’ email addresses, phone numbers and their residential adders. Based on your company policy, the members of Sales Persons group should NOT be able to see sensitive data, but, they should be able to all other data. On the other hand the members of Sales Managers group can see all customers’ data. To prevent Sales Persons to see sensitive data you can enable Dynamic Data Masking on the sensitive columns on DimCustomer table. In that case when a sales person queries the table he/she will see masked data. For instance he see uXXX@XXX.com rather than firstname.lastname@example.org.
Create a table with DDM on some columns
It’s easy, just put “MASKED WITH (FUNCTION = ‘Mask_Function’)” in column definition. So it should look like this:
CREATE TABLE Table_Name (ID int IDENTITY PRIMARY KEY, Masked_Column1 varchar(100) MASKED WITH (FUNCTION = ‘Mask_Function’), Masked_Column2 varchar(100) MASKED WITH (FUNCTION = ‘Mask_Function’),
Alter an existing table and enable DDM on desired columns
As you guessed you have to use “ALTER TABLE” then “ALTER COLUMN”. Your T-SQL should look like:
ALTER TABLE Table_Name ALTER COLUMN Column_Name1 ADD MASKED WITH (FUNCTION = ‘Mask_Function’);
ALTER TABLE Table_Name
ALTER COLUMN Column_Name2 ADD MASKED WITH (FUNCTION = ‘Mask_Function’);
A template is basically a Power BI file that represents an instance of a predefined Power BI Desktop which includes all definitions of the Data Model, Reports, Queries and parameters, but, not includes any data. Creating Power BI Templates is a great way to ease the deployment of existing models. Creating templates is very easy, you just click File –> Export –> Power BI Template. We will look at this more in details through this article.
You are asked to implement a new level of security on customers’ data (DimCustomer on AdventureWorksDW2016CTP3 database) so that just privileged users can see the customers’ email, phone numbers and residential address. Privileged users are all members of “SalesManager” database role. You are also asked to prevent “SalesPerson” database role to see sensitive data. But, all members of both “SalesManager” and “SalesPerson” database roles can query DimCustomer table. The users should NOT have SQL Server logins.
One of the coolest features added to the April 2016 release of Power BI Desktop is “Query Parameters”. With Query Parameters we can now create parameters in Power BI Desktop and use them in various cases. For instance, we can now define a query referencing a parameter to retrieve different datasets. Or we can reference parameters via Filter Rows. Generally speaking we can reference parameters via:
In addition, parameters can be loaded to the Data Model so that we can reference them from measures, calculated columns, calculated tables and report elements.
In “Power BI Desktop Query Parameters” series of articles I show you how to use Query Parameters in different scenarios.
In this article I’ll show you some use cases of Query Parameters based on some scenarios as below:
Note:As Dynamic Data Masking (DDM) is a new feature of SQL Server 2016 and it is not available in the previous versions of SQL Server you need to install the latest version of SQL Server 2016. So you will need SQL Server 2016 and Adventure Works CTP3 only if you want to use Query Parameters on top of Dynamic Data Masking (DDM).
Scenario 1: Parameterising a Data Source
Parameterising a Data Source could be used in many different use cases. From connecting to different data sources defined in Query Parameters to load different combinations of columns. To make it more clear I break down the scenario to some more specific use cases.
Use Case 1: Parameterising Data Source to Connect to Different Servers and Different Databases
Suppose you have different customers using the same database schema. But, the databases hosted in different instances of SQL Server and also the database names are different. With Query Parameters we can easily switch between different data sources then publish the reports to each customers’ Power BI Service.
Open Power BI Desktop
Click Get Data
Select “Blank Query” from “Other” then click “Connect”
In Query Editor window click “Manage Parameters” from the ribbon