Friday, December 30, 2022

Closing out on 2022

It's the holiday season again. This year flew by if you ask me.
As I did last year, I like to close this year with a little review and mention a few of the things I did.

Blogging

I can at least say I did a bit better than last year, writing a total of 12 posts this year. I still like to get some more time for writing posts, but motivation is still not easy... On the kind of posts: I like in-depth technical ones, where I explain a specific problem or solution I've come across.
And I've also written a lot about Administration and Governance type of topics, like:

Speaking

Luckily, in-person speaking has returned again. I think I can speak for everyone if I say that we missed that very much the last year(s).
I've had some great speaking gigs this year, like a virtual presence at SQLBits, The Dutch Power BI User Day (Deep Dive as well as the free Saturday), DataGrillen, and (both virtual) New Zealand Business Applications Summit and the Pakistan Power Platform Bootcamp.
While I didn't have the pleasure to speak at dataMinds Connect this year, I did attend it with a few colleagues, which was again awesome!

MVP

I've been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional in the Data Platform category for the 3rd time in a row now! 

Learning goals

In May, I took the (then beta) exam DP-500 (Azure Enterprise Data Analyst Associate) and in early July I got the confirmation of receiving the certification!

Are you still interested in taking this exam? Have a look at my overview post.

I didn't do much reading, in books that is. I've read numerous blog posts, but not really any books. Let's up that game in 2023 and put in effort to do more reading.

I do like listening to podcasts, ranging from running (Susy Q&A, Klaas en Koen lopen weg) to tech (Knee-Deep in Tech, Kasper on BI, Explicit Measures). I like to listen to them during my morning or lunch walks and sometimes during running also.


Powerdobs

In February of this year, I started my job as the Unit Lead Power BI at Powerdobs B.V. It's a small consultancy company based in 's-Hertogenbosch, focused on the Azure Data Platform and Power BI. We now have 8 consultants (in one month 9 πŸ˜€), with some backend, some front-end and a few both.
As the Unit Lead for Power BI (Sjoerd Donker is Unit Lead Data Engineering), next to client engagements, I am responsible for spreading knowledge about Power BI and also getting my colleagues excited about sharing knowledge, inside but also outside the company, through blogs and presentations.

I definitely thought my move to Van Lanschot Kempen (my previous employer) was the best I would ever make, because of the permanent employenent, less travelling and building a solid relationship and solutions inside one company.
However, I missed the point of being with my hands on the buttons of Power BI a bit, so I couldn't resist taking the chance to join this family of Power BI enthusiasts at Powerdobs. And it truely feels like a little family here! πŸ’›

Sports/health

With a last year of running just over 1800 km's, I was a bit fed up with running in the first quarter of this year.



This year my total will be around 1120 km, so a lot less then last year, but I can definitely say I ran much more effectively. For example: I used to go running to and from the interval training at the club (4.5K), just to get more K's in. Now I take the bike to the training, so the training itself can be more effective, especially with an interval training.
On the half marathon goal (of 90 minutes): I had one try in October in Eindhoven, but that didn't go as planned. 😐
I still love the fact that all the #runhappy buddies are going strong!

Next to running I've also been doing a bit more workouts at home, being mainly pilates and strength exercises (with the Skimble app) to complement the running, and the last monhts also some yoga to start the day.

I've also been doing some cold showers and Wim Hof (a.k.a. the Iceman) breathing exercises once in a while the last year. But in the beginning of October I've had the pleasure of attending a Wim Hof (half day) workshop, on mindset, breathing and cold. So I took an ice bath! 😁


After that day, I've been consistently doing a cold shower every morning now! It feels amazing going through that stress and adrenaline rush in the morning, and feeling relaxed after a few seconds of focussing on my breathing.
I just have to get the breathing exercises incorporated more into my daily routine also.



That's all for this year. I whish everyone the best New Year's Eve and a great start of 2023!


Nicky. Out.

Monday, December 19, 2022

SSMS Error when refreshing a Power BI Table: Paramter name already exists

2 weeks ago I talked about A No-Code Method to Refresh One Table From a Power BI Dataset in the Service. I recently ran into an error using this method, so I thought it was worth sharing this error, and the solution πŸ˜€, with you.

TL;DR

Don't use the initial catalog when you're connecting to a Power BI dataset with SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS).
If you want to now more details about the exact problem and solution, please read on below.

Problem

In my previous post I mentioned:

"With some tools it might be necessary to also provide the Initial Catalog (the dataset to connect to in your workspace). The datasets in your workspace will eventually show as databases under your AS-server:"

I did specifically say some tools, and might. 😁
So, to be even more specific, when using SSMS Γ‘nd the option for initial catalog, you run into the below error message:



I tried a few things before I got asked for some (external) help. A little bit of context around the problem:
  • Note that the message itself also has a typo in it (paramter πŸ˜‚).
  • It happens to every table in every dataset (I tried so far) in this workspace. I tried another workspace and that refreshed fine from the UI.
  • A colleague is getting the same error message in the UI for this particular workspace.
  • Looking at the error I checked if there are params called name in the datasets, but there aren't.
  • It's a test workspace in a deployment pipeline.

Solution

Luckily the solution is very simple! 
  • Don't use the Initial Catalog option in combination with SSMS, leave it at <default>
  • Or, if for any reason you need the above option selected, install SSMS 19 Preview 4
    • This preview version is a side-by-side installation, so it installs next to SSMS 18.x

I hope this helped you if you encountered the same problem.

Monday, December 5, 2022

A No-Code Method to Refresh One Table From a Power BI Dataset in the Service

Context

A few weeks back I was working on a dataset at a client where I needed to import Excel files from a folder into said dataset. I filtered the files on a prefix and loaded around 30 files of the same structure to a table in my dataset. The Excel files are exports from a budgetting system (I know, right?) that have to be updated multiple times in the next coming weeks on an ad-hoc basis.

After the Excel files are updated I currently have 2 choices:

  • Open the pbix-file and refresh the specific table that loads the files, and then publish to the service. This however again triggers a refresh in the service after publishing. Depending on the connection I have in the pbix (subset of rows from dev/test/prod) I might have to wait for the refresh in the service anyhow
  • Refresh the dataset in the service and wait for that to finish
And it's not that the dataset is thΓ‘t big, but of course waiting (for 20 to 30 minutes) for a refresh would be a waste of time. And it doesn't really matter how long it exactly takes, if you're waiting for something, it always takes too long, right?

Solution

But as you might have noticed from the title of this blog, there is also another solution πŸ˜€.
Spoiler alert: you do need a Premium license.

Marc Lelijveld previously talked about the automation of triggering a single table to refresh in the Power BI Service, with PowerShell and a TMSL script. 

But what if you're not (that) familiar with PowerShell and / or TMSL? And maybe it's not going to be part of an automated schedule, but you just want to be able to execute it ad-hoc, when necessary?

Luckily there's the XMLA endpoint to the rescue. You can connect to any Premium (Capacity or Per User) workspace via the XMLA endpoint with SQL Server Management Studio (SSMS) to do a (single) table refresh.


There's a few things you'll have to consider before being able to do this..

  • Enable XMLA read-write
  • Get the XMLA endpoint connection string
  • Connect via SSMS
  • Refresh your table(s)
  • Check the outcome of the refresh in SSMS
    • Or alternatively check the refresh history in the service
Let's look at the individual steps in more detail.

Enable XMLA read-write



The first thing you need to do is to enable the option Read Write on the XMLA Endpoint of your Premium capacity.

This setting is available in the Admin Portal, either under Capacity settings or Premium Per User, depending on your license.




XMLA Endpoint connection












You can get the connection URL from the workspace Settings page, under the Premium tab.
More info on the documentation page.

Note: Connecting to a My Workspace by using the XMLA endpoint is currently not supported.













Connect via SSMS


Use SQL Server Management Studio to connect to the URL obtained in the previous step. Just be aware that you need version 18.9 or higher to do so.



Make sure you use the following option for Authentication:
  • Azure Active Directory - Universal with MFA
Next to connecting to and looking at properties of your Power BI models, this method also supports executing DAX, MDX, and XMLA queries.

SSMS isn't the only tool supported by the XMLA endpoint, you can pick any of the tools mentioned here, e.g. Excel, SQL Server Profiler, DAX Studio or Tabular Editor to name a few of them.


With some tools it might be necessary to also provide the Initial Catalog (the dataset to connect to in your workspace). The datasets in your workspace will eventually show as databases under your AS-server:



UPDATE December 19th 2022:
When using SSMS and the option to use an Initial Catalog, you (might) run into an error, read my update post how to avoid this.

Refresh your table(s)


Now onto the actual refreshing of my tables. 
  • Right-click the table you want to refresh and select Process Table


  • Select the right processing option depending on your needs, I used a full refresh
  • Optionally select other tables to refresh
  • Click OK and wait for the refresh to complete.



Next to refreshing your table(s) in SSMS, you could also script out the refresh command and use it to automate the process. Because I only need to refresh it on an ad-hoc basis I'm good with my solution for now.



Refresh history


This type of refresh shows as a Via XMLA Endpoint in the Refresh History of your dataset properties in the service.



In any case you ever want to cancel a running refresh, also with Premium and the XMLA endpoint set to Read/Write, have a look at this post how to Cancel a refresh with a SessionID (instead of SPID) and DAX Studio.


Conclusion


In this post I provided a UI-only solution to refreshing a single table in your Power BI dataset. Hopefully this post gave you some insights.
Have you already used this method before?
Do you use it often?
Do you use other methods to refresh a table in a dataset?

I'd love it when you provide more details in the comments!



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