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SQLBI - Marco Russo

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Learn #tabular and #dax at PASS Summit 2014

During the last months I’ve seen an increasing adoption of Analysis Services Tabular (and I’m writing a longer article about a particular area of adoption which was probably not expected – more on that in a few weeks). This year at PASS Summit 2014 there are plenty of opportunities to learn (or improve skills on) Analysis Services Tabular:

  • Mon, Nov 03, 2014: Data Modeling in SSAS Tabular – pre-conference seminar by Marco Russo (yes, myself)
    • This one-day seminar introduces the Tabular models using Visual Studio. The only prerequisite is a knowledge of SQL language. Previous experience in Analysis Services Multidimensional or other OLAP / Analytical tools is welcome but not required. If you already created projects in Tabular, you will understand how the Tabular engine works and how to create optimal data models. Compression efficiency is important, and this impact the way you model tables and relationships. DAX is not included in this day, because it is covered by Alberto in another seminar the following day.
  • Tue, Nov 04, 2014: From 0 to DAX – pre-conference seminar by Alberto Ferrari
    • Either you use Tabular or Power Pivot, even if you started your Tabular experience the day before, this seminar introduces you the DAX language syntax and the important concepts (filter context, evaluation context) you have to know. This knowledge makes you able writing the formula you need, without the “try and see” approach that could be very confusing in DAX. Have you had this experience, writing a DAX formula that didn’t result in what you expect? This is the right seminar for you.
  • General sessions (75 minutes):
    • Advanced Modeling with Analysis Services Tabular (Alberto Ferrari)
      • This session is about how to overcome “limitations” in Tabular data modeling by creating virtual relationships, balance at point in time without snapshots, dynamic currency conversions, measures of active events, surveys, and basket analysis.
    • DAX Patterns (Marco Russo)
      • I will explain some of the patterns available in DAX Patterns web site. Yes, you can read the articles and use the patterns, but this session has the goal of explaining how these pattern works, and not only how to use them.
    • Working with Time Functions in DAX (Michael Antonovich)
      • I don’t know Michael, but if you never used Time Intelligence functions in DAX, this is a topic that you have to study. When you fill ready, you can still discover how to rewrite Time Intelligence functions with Time Patterns!
    • Load Testing Analysis Services (Bob Duffy)
      • Bob wrote interesting articles about performance of Analysis Services, like this one about partitioning in Tabular, and I will certainly attend this session as an attendee (I hope it will not be overlapped with mine!)
  • Even if not strictly related to Tabular, I made a personal selection of sessions that a BI Developer engaged with Analysis Services Tabular and/or Multidimensional should see:

This is going to be a very interesting PASS Summit. I’ve seen a rich sessions portfolio also for ETL, DWH SSIS, SSRS, And, of course SQL Server! Please let me know if I missed some important session for the BI Developers target!

SIDE NOTE: BI Sessions at PASS Summit - I’ve seen comments about moving BI-related sessions to PASS BA Analytics, giving more sessions to SQL Server. I’m not sure it would be a good idea for PASS. Today, PASS BA Analytics is a conference that is not mature, I would like to see more advanced sessions for BI Developers, but the point is that PASS BA only attracts a few hundreds of attendees, whereas the PASS Summit attracts a 35-40% of the audience made by people working in Business Intelligence arena. Dropping all the BI sessions would mean probably cutting a large part of the conference budget. I’ve seen PASS growing well and the SQL Saturday initiative is incredible. I understand that nobody would take the risk of damaging the main source of revenues of the organization that makes all this possible. Thus, I see a future for PASS BA Analytics are the conference for emerging tools and technologies (sort of “build” conference for BI – it’s not that today, but it’s a direction I would like to see), whereas PASS Summit is the conference for established and released tools and products (sort of “TechEd” conference for BI & SQL DBA & DEV).

Published Tuesday, July 8, 2014 6:57 AM by Marco Russo (SQLBI)



Sasha said:

I need to flag first occurance of each value in a column date dimension, is it possible to do that with DAX?

Thanks in advance...

August 7, 2014 11:29 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

DAX doesn't have the notion of physical order, like SQL. Thus, you can create a calculated column to do what you want, but you need some other column that can be used to sort rows within the same date.

August 8, 2014 1:49 AM

Sasha said:

I have a month field in dimension itself (the dimension where I have to flag the first occurrence.)

In the dimension, there is a field let's say "ProdcutName"

I want to see the first month when each distinct product showed up for the first time.

If I take min(month) , will it provide us with the first month for each product?


August 8, 2014 2:14 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

It depends on the data model. However, I would solve it with a measure and not with a calculated column.

Please, try to describe the problem using Adventure Works, so it's possible to give a solution that can be beneficial to many other.

August 8, 2014 4:10 AM

DEV said:


I don't have currency symbols coming through the source but need to hardcode them in the Tabular model,

Is it possible to do that?

I can't use the data format b/w , because currency symbols have to change dynamically in the report based on the currency type selection

August 18, 2014 3:05 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Dynamic format is available only in Multidimensional at the moment. In Tabular you can only rely on string display, but you would display a string and not a number (which has many other consequences).


August 18, 2014 3:59 AM
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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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