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SQLBI - Marco Russo

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Campaign for #PowerPivot and #Tabular textual modeling language #msbi #ssas

If you think PowerPivot and Tabular are good tools but sometime the design tools are not fast/complete/flexible enough, please consider voting this suggestion on Connect to request a textual representation Tabular or PowerPivot Data Models.

This is the simplest way to improve the Productivity of PowerPivot and Tabular users/analysts/designers. 

I would like having a simple textual representation of a BISM model, that can be translated back and forth to a XAML representation of the data model (this could be then integrated within Visual Studio, but other development tools might use this language as well).
I’d like to write (for Tabular) something like:
TABLE Customers (
    CustomerKey INTEGER,
    Name STRING,
    Weight FLOAT
TABLE Sales (
    CustomerKey INTEGER ref Customers[CustomerKey],
    Quantity INTEGER,
    Amount CURRENCY
This would be the syntax to keep the functional-style, even if I would prefer a more declarative language such as:
TABLE Customers
    CustomerKey INTEGER
    Name STRING
    Weight FLOAT
    CustomerKey INTEGER ref Customers[CustomerKey]
    Quantity INTEGER
    Amount CURRENCY
We can discuss about the syntax, but we all know that this can be done, especially for Tabular which has a smaller number of properties to handle if compared to Multidimensional (which could benefit from the same approach, too).
The implementation of tools enabling the translation of models to/from this language would be cheaper that writing/improving advanced graphical editors and many other features that you have for free once you have a text file:

  • Source control
  • Revision history
  • Version comparison
  • Team development

This is the single feature for Tabular/PowerPivot with the best ROI that I can imagine.
And if Microsoft does not time to implement it… well, at least they could publish a document such as “Tabular Language Draft 1.0” and somebody in the community will implement the necessary translation tools. Having an "official" Language is important, because in this way nobody would spend time on something that could change too much in the future.
Are you convinced? Nice!
So please, help me in this campaign for a PowerPivot and Tabular textual modeling language.
This is the call for action:

  1. Vote this item on Connect
  2. Spread the word as loud as you can!

Don't wait, do it now!

Published Tuesday, June 4, 2013 1:14 AM by Marco Russo (SQLBI)



jerome said:

Not sure if I understand the added value here.

the amount of information to be stored in the model is more than just a table definition.

like translation, folders, additional metadata etc...

so creating another way to represent this is just to move the problem of storing the metadata differently.

an XML storage offers more flexibility than a language.

Microsoft must provides a better DIFF tool to be able to work in a team with tabular, SSAS, SSRS and other XML models.

not just PowerPivot / Tabular is impacted.

So asking MS to do something, yes, changing just the way the model stores the metadata for Tabular, I think its not the right solution.

June 3, 2013 8:27 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Jerome: you are right, but since we have a DIFF tool working in text file and we have merge operation working correctly in Visual Studio, this could solve the problem in Tabular and PowerPivot. I am not asking to change the metadata storage for Tabular, I'm asking to define a textual representation of an XML model for humans. The two languages can be translated by a tool, but humans could read and manipulate them in an easy way.


June 4, 2013 12:33 AM

Ari Zelanko said:

This is still hugely needed.  I don't see that the Connect suggestion has gotten any response at all.  Does anyone know if there has been progress on this front?

February 27, 2015 2:52 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Discussion at conferences with MS PMs, still no official committment.

February 27, 2015 4:11 PM
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About Marco Russo (SQLBI)

Marco Russo is a consultant, writer and trainer specialized in Business Intelligence with Microsoft technologies. He runs the SQLBI.COM website, which is dedicated to distribute resources useful for BI developers, like Integration Services components, Analysis Services models, tools, technical information and so on. Marco is certified as MCT, MCDBA, MCSD.NET, MCSA, MCSE+I.

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