Monday, October 31, 2022

Let Me Google That For You

In case you're not familiar, let me first explain what I mean with the title.

Let Me Google That For You is a website, that let's you create a demo of how to do a user-specified Google search. It was designed for tech-savvy people that are frequently asked for help. Its purpose is to gently, but sarcastically, point out that by searching for the problem yourself first, you'd probably come a long way to the answer.

While Google is the brand name of a leading internet search engine company, it's also quite commonly used as a verb:
To search the internet for information about (a person, topic, etc.):We googled the new applicant to check her background.
And of course, there's also a Bing alternative: Let Me Bing That For You.

How to google

Because once in a while I see people ask questions that I can (easily) google, I thought it might be worth writing down how I like to perform my searches. 
It might be obvious already, but I like to use Google for that. I find it to be better at its job than others, even for Microsoft tech like Power BI and Power Platform.

When searching for information, there are a few things I like to do:

Start with the topic

Start with a 1 or 2 word, preferably as short as possible, topic, like:
    • Power BI
    • Power Query
    • DAX
    • (Power BI) REST API
    • PowerShell Power BI

Keep it short/to the point

After that, add your question on the topic, but also as short as possible. Try not to add too much filler words like and, or, the and a(n). I also tend to stay away from How do I type of questions.

I like to keep it short and to the point: power bi rest api authorization header

While the search results might not differ thΓ‘t much, the most important thing to me is that Google suggests search words for you. That way you will get the most commonly asked questions to choose from. That's particularly usefull when you don't know exactly what you are looking for.
In case of an error message it's often quite clear, but if you're looking for more general things, or for authorization with an API, you might not know it's called a bearer token.



Errors

In my line of job I unfortunately quite often run into errors. I always use the exact error message that I encounter: word for word. If the error is too long I might try the first part/sentence of it. But keep it exactly as it is. But again, I start with a 1 or 2 word topic, followed by the error message.
A good habit was to create a blog post on the topic if I couldn't find a solution easily. Mainly back in the days when I used to work a lot with SSRS and SSDT.


Ask for help

Sometimes you just can't find it on the interwebs. Then your best bet is to ask for help! There's quite a good chance someone has run into that same problem before.
Ask you co-workers, use Twitter, the Power BI Community, Reddit, a private or public Slack group, whatever works for you.

I'm quite active on Twitter (@NickyvV) and have been using that for over a decade. If you are not, I highly recommend to start doing that. Not only for asking for help, but surely also for the amazing community of Power BI and SQL Server people hanging out there.

There are even specific hashtags you can incorporate in your search: #sqlhelp, #powerbihelp, #pbihelp
Those are monitored throughout they day by a bunch of people that want to give others a hand.
And it's still Twitter, so sometimes you come accross some people that are, let's say, a bit less welcoming.. πŸ˜ƒ 

The majority of interactions is however positive, it's an amazing community!


Searching for Call for Speakers

Because I'm also active in the speaking community, I sometimes like to search for places where I can submit my talks. In my opinion Sessionize is the best platform to use, for speakers as well as conferences. It quickly let's you make a public speaker profile with presentations you can give, but also submit those presentations to conferences without the need to re-enter all the same details over and over again.

Since a while, the website has this Discover events tab which you can use to search for open call for speakers. Before this option was available, and I still do it sometimes to make sure I'm not missing anything on Sessionize itself, I used the option to search for keywords on a specific site on Google:

site:sessionize.com power bi


Closing

With this write-up, I hope I gave you some insights in my daily routine of getting help with things I run into. And to be clear, me having xx years of experience, having a certain title on LinkedIn or being a Microsoft MVP has nothing to do with my amount of searches or things I have to look up.
Sometimes we like to think we do, but we can't know everything. Also, Power BI (and Power Platform) is constantly changing. I would say I'm probably looking for some sort of help more than 20 times a day, every day!

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Power BI Governance & Administration - Naming Conventions

 

Governance and administration, quite the exciting and popular topic. No? Well, it should be!
As I mentioned in my previous post about Governance and Administration, I have quite some experience and ideas around this topic. I thought it was time to share some of this knowledge and write it down.
I did a few posts on the topic already, including on PowerShell, the Power BI REST API and organizational visuals.





Let's Talk Naming Conventions

So let's start with the question:

What is a naming convention?

"Naming conventions are general rules applied when creating text scripts for software programming."

That's the Techopedia definition, which mostly applies to (traditional) software programming. This still applies to using it while programming SQL, M or DAX for example.
It can be any agreed syntax like one of the following:
  • ThisIsPascalCase
  • thisIsCamelCase
  • this-is-kebab-case
  • this_is_snake_case

But I think it's much broader than using only programming naming conventions these days.
In the context of Power BI, you can use naming conventions in (literally) all things that need a name, like gateways, workspaces, apps, etc.

Why

So why would you want to set up a naming convention for anything?
"They have many different purposes, such as adding clarity and uniformity [to scripts], readability for third-party applications, and functionality in certain languages and applications."
That still mostly applies to programming. I'd argue that in the context of Power BI it's also easier to find things in your Power BI ecosystem. Not only for Power BI/IT Admins, but also for report builders and end users.

How

And how do we set up a naming convention? I would say "it depends". 😁 Take a look at the never ending discussion around spaces or tabs.

I think it's not a matter of how you implement it, but the fact that you think about it, implement it and enforce and/or govern it. It's better to actually think about and agree upon a certain convention then to do nothing.

Where

And where do we use naming conventions? Because they started in traditional programming languages the logical place(s) to start are M and DAX.
I think the below 2 are the best known once for DAX:
  • Always write a Column in the format TableName[Column Name]
  • Always write a Measure in the format [Measure Name]
There are already quite some good resources available that talk about M and DAX:

But besides using naming conventions in programming languages, good places to (start) using them are also:
  • Gateways
    • Gateway cluster/installations itself
    • But also the Data sources in the gateway
      • I like to include the type of gateway (File/SQL/...), location/server/database and the username, because that's still not visible in the new Power Platform Admin Center...
        You can vote for the idea View Username Of A Gateway In Data Source Settings :-) 
  • Workspaces
    • Marc Lelijveld (@MarcLelijveld | B) already did a comprehensive overview of workspace setup and naming conventions in this blog post.
    • The name of a workspace can be 256 characters long, but just because you can, doesn't mean you should, right?!
    • I also find the Implementation Planning docs very helpful, especially the don'ts in a workspace name:
      • The word workspace
      • The words Power BI
      • The name of the organization, unless B2B is used
  • Apps
    • These don't always have to be the same name as the workspace, as the App is usually what all end-users see, and the workspace access is limited to a subset of people.
    • Melissa Coates (@SQLChick | B) does a great job explaing Why to Use a Power BI App
  • Dataflows
  • AAD-groups (used for Power BI)
    • If the groups are used in a workspace, try to include the name/naming convention of the workspace itself, and maybe add the group(s) of users, like [workspace name]-admins/members/viewers
  • Premium Capacities
    • In case you only have 1, then it might make less sense, but in case you have multiple capacities, for me it makes sense to incorporate the type of the capacity in the name. So either P1/2 or the number of v-Cores asigned to that instance
  • Identity & Access Management
    • This might slightly be off-topic for most Power BI users, but if Power BI Admins are working closely with the IT/IAM team/system, and users need to get access to workspaces/apps via IAM, syncing the naming between Power BI, AAD(-groups) and IAM requests might be a good case
  • ...?


Closing

I mentioned a lot of places where naming conventions can be beneficial. I use them because they promote consistency, and can provide more readability and clarity.
Have you implemented naming conventions anywhere? How do you use them? Or why not?

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Certification Updates!


Last week was already a great week with these amazing things:
  • My Microsoft Data Platform MVP renewal
  • The delivery of an MVP thank you kit, containing an MVP mug, hoody and sticker, by the MVP team

But aparently there was more! πŸ˜€



I noticed this weekend that several other people received their results on the DP-500 exam:  Designing and Implementing Enterprise-Scale Analytics Solutions Using Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Power BI, so I thought I'd check out mine too.
And you might have already guessed it: I passed! πŸ₯³

DP-500 History

Almost 2 months ago I took the (then beta) exam DP-500, on which I wrote about earlier how to master this exam.
As the name of the exam suggests, this is not an exam for beginners. To recap a little bit from my previous blog post, the exam covers the following products/services:
  • Microsoft Power BI, including some external tools
  • Microsoft Purview (a.k.a. Azure Purview)
  • Azure Synapse Analytics
  • Azure Data Lake Gen2
  • DevOps

At the end of June, the exam went live, so it's no longer in beta. This also means there is now an official course available. Although I think you could manage just fine with all the online material there is already. I mentioned quite a few in my last post. And new materials have already been added to that list, for example the newest course on PluralSight, called Optimize Enterprise-scale Data Models - DP-500, by friend and fellow MVP Nikola Ilic (@DataMozart, B).
But depending on the type of learner you are, you might do better with an in-class training, so it all depends... 😁

Never stop learning

I honoustly did not think I passed the exam, because it covers quite a few topics I do not master yet, or haven't touched that often. 

DP-500 Score report


And according to the scoring report I received, I still have some things to do on the following topics:
  • Query and transform data (mainly Synapse questions for me I think hope πŸ˜€)
    This part of the exam covers:
    • Query data by using Azure Synapse Analytics
    • Ingest and transform data by using Power BI
  • Explore and visualize data (also mainly Synapse, and some R/Python in Power BI probably)
    This part covers:
    • Explore data by using Azure Synapse Analytics
    • Visualize data by using Power BI
You can check out the detailed outline and all the subtopics off the exam here.

Renewed Certification

Last but not least, I also renewed my PL-300 certification (a.k.a. DA-100), the Power BI Data Analyst Associate. I got a notification that renewal was possible. It only took me 15-20 minutes, online behind my laptop. So no exam site or proctored exam room this time.
I made it with 96% of the questions right, I missed (I think) 1 question in data modeling πŸ˜‡




Do you have any plans for exams? Did you get any certifications lately?
If you have any remarks and/or questions about one of these topics I mentioned, please let me know!