Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A Form, a Flow and a Power BI Streaming Dataset Walk Into a Bar - Part 1

This is the title of a live demo session that demonstrates the Microsoft Power Platform products working together to create an interactive data application. I recently had the honor of presenting this at the Dublin Power BI User Group (@DublinPUG) during my visit to the Power PlatformWorld Tour in Dublin. The slides of my regular session I gave there can also be found on my GitHub page.
I see you thinking about my title… I know Microsoft Flow is now renamed to PowerAutomate, but then my title just doesn't have the same flow of reading anymore :-)

In this blog series I will set apart all the steps needed to get this demo up and running on your own. I will use the text in this post, as well as screen shots and video's explaining it step by step. So if you're already (somewhat) familiar with Forms, Power Automate and/or Power BI streaming datasets, feel free to go directly to the video's and start building your own demo right away. Otherwise, keep reading and eventually you'll come across all the resources as well.
As this is a blog series, in Part 1 I will explain what the reason behind this demo is, and what I used it for in my presentations. I will make a start with the demo and show you how to make a Form and set up a streaming dataset in Power BI.

Problem

I think it's good to have some form of interactivity in your presentation. Whether it's by (live) polling your audience, telling a story, asking questions during your presentation or any of the other 8 ways to make your presentation more interactive, doesn't really matter.
The way I started doing this during my first presentation was by firing some questions at the audience after I introduced myself. For example, I asked what kind of job they were in at the moment and with what technologies (related to the topic of the presentation) they have worked with. Although that worked pretty well, I was asking closed questions with a show of hands, so if someone didn't participate I couldn't really notice. I wasn't counting hands for that matter. I did get a feel of the audience from my perspective so I know on what topics to focus on a little more in my presentation.

Solution

As we work with the Power Platform suite of products, with my main focus on Power BI, I thought it was a good idea to use some of that Power! So what I did was the following:
Let's go through it step by step.

Create a form

Go over to Microsoft Forms, login and create a new or use an existing form.
I'm going to create a form that I can use in my presentation, so it is focused at the topic I'm presenting on. So I would like the audience to enter their Name, Continent (of origin), Occupation and Experience. Let's see how it works.
A little side-note: unfortunately I can't change the language in Forms to English because this is disabled in our O365-tenant, so some words on the screen are still in Dutch, sorry for that.


I showed a few possible options for creating questions in a form, but you can experiment with other options yourself. Some questions (like the multiple choice answers) are returned as JSON-values so you have to be aware you have to do some calculations in the Power BI report to nicely visualize the values.

Create a streaming dataset

The streaming dataset, of type push, has to be created before selecting the workspace in Power Automate, because otherwise the streaming dataset won't show up. In PowerBI.com you can create a dataset in any workspace, also in My Workspace. You do that by clicking on the +-sign in the home screen of your workspace.


Make sure you turn on the switch for Historic data analysis when creating the dataset. That way Power BI will store the data that's sent through this data stream, and you'll be able to do reporting and analysis on the collected data stream. This switch can also be used to clear the dataset.

Recap

In Part 1 of this blog series I started with Microsoft Forms and a Power BI streaming dataset.
In Part 2 next week I will show you how to glue it all together with Power Automate and create a report out of the data. There are some tricks you need to know in the streaming dataset to properly show the output in your Power BI report. And lastly I will show you a trick to get your data refreshed live while respondents are answering the questions, but without refreshing your browser!

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