Power BI Visuals in On Premise SQL Server Reporting Services

Yesterday, January 17, 2017, Microsoft released the Power BI reports in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) technical preview. You can read all about it here. I downloaded the technical preview and installed it on my system and deployed a Power BI Visual to my SSRS web site. Here are the steps to get it installed on your system.

· Download the SSRS Technical Preview and Power BI Designer for the preview

Power BI SSRS

· The Technical Preview has the following system requirements:

    • Your own VM or server (not one in production use)
    • Windows Server 2012 or later (or Windows 8 or later)
    • .NET Framework 4.5.2 or later
    • SQL Server Database Engine (2008 or later), to store the report server database
    • SQL Server Analysis Services (2012 SP1 CU4 or later), to store your data models

· I first installed the SQLServerReportingServices.exe on my system and accepted the licensing terms and agreement and then selected the “Install” button.

POwer BI SSRS

· After the installation completed I needed to configure the technical preview of SSRS by selecting the “Configure Report Server” button.

Power BI SSRS

· I provided my SQL Server name to Connect the Reporting Services Configuration Manager.

Power BI SSRS

**NOTE – While the configuration manager let, me configure the SSRS technical preview web site with my original VM’s computer name of ‘BARRYCROWEL38F0’ I could not publish by Power BI report with that computer name. I shortened the name to 7 characters and removed the numbers from the name to get the Power BI Designer Technical Preview to function with the SSRS web site.

· Design a Power BI visual with the Power BI Designer Technical Preview. In my visual, I connected to an SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) database. To publish you report to SSRS, select the ‘Save As’ menu option.

Power BI Technical Preview SSRS

· Following the screen prompts and supply the Reporting Server.

Power BI Technical Preview SSRS

· Then enter the report name.

Power BI technical preview SSRS

The final product is a Power BI visual with slicer functionality in an on premise SSRS web site.

**NOTE – the current SSRS technical preview does not work with custom visuals or R visuals.

Power BI On Premise

Conclusion

I’m loving the first on premise technical preview and can’t wait for what next.

Design Best Practices to Build Killer Dashboards

When buying real estate its all about location, location, location. Like real estate, dashboards or data visualizations are all about one thing – data, data, data. With that in mind here are some of my data visualization best practice design tips. Make your data visualization:

  • Relative
  • Interactive
  • Simple

Make it Relative

Make sure that the data underlying your dashboard is up-to-date, accurate and that your selected KPIs, metrics and charts tell your intended story or current business challenges.

Data can be from this quarter, this week, this hour—whatever the right timeline is for your business. Stale data can lend to you thinking you’re making fact-based decisions, but the data is no longer representative of or relevant to your current situation.

Make it interactive

Your dashboard or data visualization has to be relevant to its intended audience. Dashboards need to start with an audience in mind. Who is the consumer of the dashboard? What are their information needs? What do they already know? What are their experiences and prejudices? As we design the dashboard, understanding the consumers of the dashboard will help us craft a product that they love to use.

A complicating factor is that most dashboards have multiple audiences. In fact, delivering the same dashboard across an entire organization has the potential benefit of getting everyone on the same page. However, a diverse audience is hard to serve well. Therefore, try to prioritize the audiences so conflicts can be more easily handled.

After figure out your intended audience, you need to choose the right KPIs, metrics and make it visually engaging – you’ve got everyone looking at the same page. But once they’re on the same page, viewers will have unique questions about what they see. Create your dashboard so that individual viewers can interact with it to get the answers they seek.

Keep it Simple

This one is critical. No Clutter! Resist the temptation to make your dashboard too ashy or over-designed, with gauge-like graphics and widgets. Any dashboard or data visualization should follow the Fibonacci Spiral principle. It is a pretty cool thing to use/apply to your dashboards. Use it wisely and when it works, it works really well. Not all visualizations have to fit the Fibonacci Spiral though. For more on the Fibonacci Spiral principle, please see these links:

· https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIf1cy0GxUM&feature=youtu.be&t=20m16s

· http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/golden-ratio-photography/

For simple and well thought out dashboard designs choose the right chart to tell your story. So how do you choose the right chart? While a few years ago Dr. Andrew Abela published a good Diagram helping to decide about which charts are a better fit for a given data and problem at hand (please click on image below to see it in full size).

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Dr. Abela also published interesting thoughts about visualization taxonomies and recommended this 3 years old book by Dan Roam, who also published this Visual Thinking “Codex”. Juice Analytics converted Dr. Abela’s diagram to online Chart Chooser application, I suggest to review it when building your dashboard and selecting a chart to visualization your data.

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Final Thoughts

Hope this helps you with your future dashboard and data visualization designs..