Power BI – New Features and Need for Big Data Functionality

With January’s Power BI update, two items that I was looking forward to have been solved. The first one was the public preview of email subscriptions for report pages. The new feature allows Power BI Pro users to quickly subscribe to reports. The email will send a screen shot of the report whenever there is a change in the data with a link to the report on your Power BI web site. Detail of the new feature can be found here: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/introducing-email-subscriptions-in-power-bi-stay-informed-when-it-matters/

To setup a subscription to a report, log into your Power BI site and then navigate to the report you want to subscribe to. Click on the Subscribe button, arrow 1. This will make the Subscribe to emails window available. To subscribe to this report, click on the Save and Close button, arrow 2. You can also manage all your subscriptions on this window by following the “Manage all Subscriptions” link.

Power BI Subscribe to Email

The second new feature that I like is the ability to create measures when using the DirectQuery mode. There are a set of DAX functions that are disabled by default in DirectQuery mode. To enable these in Power BI Desktop, navigate to File > Options and Settings > Options.

Power BI

In the Options Window that appears select the DirectQuery feature under Global and then add a check to the “Allow unrestricted measures in DirectQuery mode”.

Power BI


The only problem with the DAX DirectQuery options is that it doesn’t enable date hierarchy for Year, Quarter, Month, Day when you add the date field to your visual, as it should as see in the screen shot below.

Power BI

This prevents the creation of any good DAX measures and is required for handling big datasets for data handling performance and visualization speed. Your left with importing your dataset into Power BI Desktop to complete your DAX measure. To vote for this functionality, follow this to vote for it: https://ideas.powerbi.com/forums/265200-power-bi-ideas/suggestions/16835431-automatic-date-hierarchy-for-direct-query-data.


Still loving all that Power BI offers and can’t wait for what is next. .

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


· 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.


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


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


**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


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

May the Force of PowerShell Module dbatools be with you

Dbatools is a great PowerShell module that has 106 ways to help ease the administrative burden faced by SQL Server DBA’s and developers. As a IT Consultant that handles Microsoft Dynamics products that install within SQL Server, I would suggest that this is a great module for us to know and use too.

For those that may not know what PowerShell is, it was developed by Microsoft for task automation and configuration management. You can learn more about PowerShell at Microsoft Virtual Academy

How to Install

There are four ways to install dbatools module into PowerShell. The PowerShell command that I used was:

Invoke-Expression (Invoke-WebRequest -UseBasicParsing https://dbatools.io/in)

The complete instructions on how to install the module can be found on dbatool’s download page: https://dbatools.io/download/

Getting Started

There are several scenarios to use dbatools. The developer’s goal with every command is to support:

  • SQL Server 2000 – 2016
  • Express – Datacenter Edition
  • Clustered and stand-alone instances
  • Windows and SQL authentication
  • Default and named instances
  • Multiple instances on one server

You can learn more about dbatools and the Functions associated with the PowerShell module here: https://dbatools.io/getting-started/

Functions to Know for Dynamics

As IT Consultant in the Microsoft Dynamics space, we are sometimes tasked with setting up SQL Server and/or migrating the Dynamics databases to the client’s new SQL Server. Some of the key functions I have used in the past to do this are:

clip_image001 Databases

clip_image002 Security

clip_image003 Server Objects

clip_image004 SSIS

clip_image005 Management

clip_image006 SQL Server Agent

Best Practice Commands

General Administration Commands

A complete list of the 106 Functions contained in the current version, 0.8.693. Can be viewed here, https://dbatools.io/functions/, and just follow the link for each Function on that page to get the details on that Functions use.


Until next time, I hope this helps you with your SQL Server Administration and database migrations.

Dynamic Security – a look at the final product


Recently I posted a blog titled “How to implement Analysis Services Dynamic Security based on Microsoft CRM user access rights”. That post talked about how to implement the back-end structure needed to put it in place but didn’t show the result of all that hard work.

The dynamic row level security (RLS) that we setup inside Analysis Services will work within reports and dashboards built inside Reporting Services, Power BI and Excel. Power BI has other ways of deploying RLS when not using an Analysis Services connection. You can learn more about that here:

· http://sqlkover.com/dynamic-security-in-power-bi/

· http://radacad.com/row-level-security-configuration-in-power-bi-desktop

The End Result

We built are Dashboard in Power BI Designer and published the Dashboard to our end users. One of the end users “Tom” has access to 558 CRM Customer account within the US. When he accesses the Dashboard, his can view results that he has privileges to. (See Figure 1 below)

Power BI dashboard image 1

Figure 1 – Tom’s access view

If “Tom” tries to access an area that he doesn’t have privileges to, say Canada, the dashboard allows him to select the filter and changes the chart(s) results to show no data. (See Figure 2 below)

Power BI dashboard image 2

Figure 2 – Tom’s view with Canada selected

Additionally, the chart(s) change based on the end user that’s accessing the dashboard. In Figure 3 below, I show an administrative user accessing the dashboard and the result shown to them when selecting the “Canada” filter.

Power BI Dashboard image 3

Figure 3 – Administrative user view of Canadian Sales


I hope this helps you with your future Analysis Services development and Dashboard projects.

How to implement Analysis Services Dynamic Security based on Microsoft CRM user access rights


In Analysis Services implementations, there is always a demand for implementing security. In this post, I’ll describe a dynamic or attribute security solution in Analysis Services that I built at a customer based on Microsoft CRM Salesperson customer access rights. The data level or row level access is based on CRM security access rights and a SQL script and SSIS package will deploy the user Active Directory account and Customer Number to a custom CRM table. By leveraging the CRM security already established we will reduce the administrative tasks needed for making additional security changes in Analysis Services whenever there is a CRM security change.

The Setup

Here are the pieces that we need to deploy to put the security in place:

1. Microsoft CRM table script

2. DataMart Acct_Access table script

3. DataMart User table script

4. Add Dynamics Security role to Cube and define MDX to filter Active Directory user access

5. Create SSIS package to populate and update Acct_Access and User tables in DataMart

1. Microsoft CRM table script







CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Acct_Access](

[AccountNumber] [varchar](200) NULL,

[AccountID] [varchar](200) NULL,

[DomainUser] [varchar](200) NULL





2. DataMart Acct_Access Table Script





CREATE TABLE [dbo].[Acct_Access](

[Access_Key] [bigint] IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL,

[AccountNumber] [varchar](200) NULL,

[AccountID] [varchar](200) NULL,

[DomainUser] [varchar](200) NULL,

[Customer_Key] [bigint] NULL,

[User_Key] [bigint] NULL,

[Company_Key] [bigint] NULL,



[Access_Key] ASC



3. DataMart User Table Script





CREATE TABLE [dbo].[User](

[User_Key] [bigint] IDENTITY(1,1) NOT NULL,

[DomainUser] [varchar](200) NULL,



[User_Key] ASC





4. Add Dynamic Security role to Cube and define MDX script to filter Active Directory user access

Once this DataMart and CRM table structure is in place your next step is to bring it into your Analysis Services solution.  Here are the steps to follow inside BIDS/SSDT to leverage these tables

· Add the new tables (User and Acct_Access) to you Data Source View.

· Create a new dimension based off the User table.  Hide all the columns by changing AttributeHierarchyVisible to False.  You don’t want users to be able to view this dimension and process the dimension.

· Create a new Measure Group in the cube based off the Acct_Access table and name it Security.  Delete all measure it creates except for the automatically generated Count measure.  Select the single measure left to be hidden by selecting it and changing the Visible property to False.  This will hide the entire Measure Group from your users but you can still use it when writing MDX.

· Ensure these two have a Regular relationship setup in the Dimension Usage table of the Cube browser as seen in the screen shot below. 


· In the Solution Explorer, right-click on Roles and select New Role.  Name the Role Dynamic Security and give Read access in the General, Data Sources and Cubes tabs.  On the Membership tab add your CRM groups or user accounts to this Role.

· On the Dimension Data tab select the Customer dimension from the dropdown list.  Then select the Customer Number from the dropdown list.


· Inside the Dimension Data tab select the Advanced tab.  In the Allowed member set area enter this MDX:


{[Customer].[Customer Number].Members},

STRTOSET(“[Customer].[Domain User].&[“+username()+”]”),




5. Create SSIS package to populate and update Acct_Access and User tables in DataMart

With the table structure and the Cube solution complete, we need to create the SSIS package to populate and update the Acct_Access table in our CRM database and then bring the updated data into the DataMart. What we need:

a. First we create a SQL script task and add the script below to delete and repopulate the table with the current CRM customer access data. Change the yellow highlighted areas below for your environment needs.

execute as login = ‘Contoso\bcrowell’

delete Acct_Access


declare @DomainName varchar(200)

–Make sure you execute the step to create the domain user table with the correct permissions.

execute as login = ‘Contoso\bcrowell’

if exists (select * from sysobjects where name = ‘DomainUser’)

drop table DomainUser

select DomainName into DomainUser from SystemUser

grant select on DomainUser to [Contoso\Domain Users]

declare SEL_CUR cursor for select DomainName from SystemUser where IsDisabled = 0

open SEL_CUR

fetch next from SEL_CUR into @DomainName

while @@FETCH_STATUS = 0



execute as login = @DomainName

insert into Acct_Access(AccountNumber, AccountID, DomainUser) select AccountNumber, AccountID, @DomainName from FilteredAccount

fetch next from SEL_CUR into @DomainName



close SEL_CUR

deallocate SEL_CUR

drop table DomainUser


b. Add additional Data Flow task to take CRM Acct_Access data and populate/update the DataMart’s Acct_Access and User tables.


I’m not the first to deploy some of the techniques used above and I started my learning by reviewing these two blog posts below and modified it to work with security rights already setup in Microsoft CRM.

· http://bidn.com/Blogs/analysis-services-dynamic-security

· http://bifuture.blogspot.com/2011/09/ssas-setup-dynamic-security-in-analysis.html

I hope this helps you with your future Analysis Services and Dashboard development projects.

How to Create GP Workflow 2.0 Custom Reporting

Recently, I completed a GP 2015 R2 upgrade with Workflow setup for vendor and check batch approval. Microsoft has made changes to the Workflow to move it off SharePoint and the old Workflow version’s reporting capabilities could only be accessed through the Workflow web site. Knowing that the client was subjected to audit reviews on a quarterly basis, I needed to come up with a way for them to produce reports on both current/open and historical/approved workflows. I created the following SQL view in their company database and then in GP used SmartList Designer to create a SmartList based on the view.





CREATE VIEW dbo.vw_WorkFlow_Status


WITH CTE_FINAL (WorkflowInstanceID, Workflow_Name, Workflow_Step_Name, Approver, Workflow_Action, Completion_Date, Completion_Time, Comments )


(select d.WorkflowInstanceID,



CASE WHEN a.ADDisplayName is null THEN ”

ELSE a.ADDisplayName

END as [Assigned Approver],

CASE WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 1 THEN ‘Submit’

WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 2 THEN ‘Resubmit’

WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 3 THEN ‘Approve’

WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 4 THEN ‘Task Complete’

WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 5 THEN ‘Reject’

WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 6 THEN ‘Delegate’

WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 7 THEN ‘Recall’

WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 8 THEN ‘Escalate’

WHEN d.Workflow_Action = 9 THEN ‘Edit’

ELSE ‘Final Approve’

END as Workflow_Action,

convert(varchar(10),d.Workflow_Completion_Date, 101) as [Completion_Date],

right(‘0’+LTRIM(right(convert(varchar,d.Workflow_Completion_Time,100),8)),7) as Completion_Time,


from dbo.WF30100 d

LEFT JOIN WF40200 a ON d.Workflow_Step_Assign_To = a.UsersListGuid

WHERE d.Workflow_Action = 10)

Select –c.WorkflowInstanceID,




c.WfBusObjKey as Approval_Request,

CASE WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 1 THEN ‘Not Submitted’

WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 2 THEN ‘Submitted’

WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 3 THEN ‘No Action Needed’

WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 4 THEN ‘Pending User Action’

WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 5 THEN ‘Recalled’

WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 6 THEN ‘Completed’

WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 7 THEN ‘Rejected’

WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 8 THEN ‘Workflow Ended’

WHEN c.Workflow_Status = 9 THEN ‘Not Activated’

ELSE ‘Deactivated’

END as Workflow_Status,

CASE WHEN d.Approver is null THEN ”

ELSE d.Approver

END as Approver,

CASE WHEN d.Completion_Date is null THEN ”

ELSE d.Completion_Date

END as Completion_Date,

CASE WHEN d.Completion_Time is null THEN ”

ELSE d.Completion_Time

END as Completion_Time,

CASE WHEN d.Comments is null THEN ”

ELSE d.Comments

END as Comments

FROM dbo.WFI10002 c

LEFT JOIN CTE_FINAL d ON D.WorkflowInstanceID = c.WorkflowInstanceID


Grant Select on dbo.vw_WorkFlow_Status to DYNGRP

Once your done adding the SQL view you can create a SmartList report with SmartList Designer and the complete SmartList should look like the screen shot below.

SmartList Workflow Report

Dynamics GP SmartList default produces no data

Recently when working with the client that has eOne Solutions SmartList Builder installed they came across an issue where their default (*) Sales Line Items SmartList was not producing data when they clicked on it.  Dynamics GP would freeze and the process would be stuck in the Process Monitor.  When you install the SmartList Builder add-in to Dynamics GP, it copies all of your SmartLists and the favorites that you created into eOne Solution tables.  Any Dynamics GP user that selects the “Modify” button on the SmartList window will duplicate any default SmartLists and cause the issue of that SmartList then not producing any data. This button’s functionality should be removed from the general GP users security role to eliminate this from happening in the future.

GP SmartList 1

To fix the issue follow the steps below –

  1. Open SmartList Builder

GP SmartList 2

  1. Select “Existing” and then any SmartList ID with “*” at the end. (i.e. Sales Line Items* in screen shot)

GP SmartList 3

  1. Select the SmartList and then click on “Delete” button to remove modified default SmartList causing the issue.

GP SmartList 4

4. Select SmartList and the Default SmartList you were having an issue with and it should now produce data with no issues.