After months of recording and post-production work, we are glad to announce the release of a new SQLBI video course: Mastering Tabular.

This short title requires a longer explanation, but we can simplify the course description with one sentence:
Mastering Tabular is what you need to create an enterprise-level solution based on Power BI or Analysis Services.

Indeed, when you use Power BI or Analysis Services, you are using the same core technology. There are two engines in SQL Server Analysis Services: Multidimensional and Tabular. The Tabular engine is the one used by Azure Analysis Services and by Power BI. Therefore, in 2021 we can now say that Tabular is the Power BI model, and Tabular is the Analysis Services model.

Why Tabular?

Why did we create a single comprehensive training covering Tabular in all the products where it is used?

Our suite of video courses comprised a specific training for Analysis Services – the SSAS Tabular video course – but the evolution of Power BI made such content relevant also for many solutions based on Power BI. Moreover, new enterprise modeling features have been added specifically for Power BI. Therefore, we created a new course that extended SSAS Tabular and covers all the Tabular model features of Power BI, Azure Analysis Services, and SQL Server Analysis Services. Because we like short names, we called it Mastering Tabular.

We know that Analysis Services developers understand the importance of such training. However, why should a Power BI author consider taking this course? Let’s explain.

Power BI’s model is the same as Analysis Services’. Even though the user interface of Power BI Desktop does not expose all the features, you can use external tools like Tabular Editor to use for example calculation groups and KPIs, just to name two features that are also useful in simple and small datasets. If you publish a model on a Power BI Premium workspace, you also have full access to enterprise features like partitions and object-level security. But do you know what you can (and cannot) do, and how? Tabular Editor and Visual Studio are just development tools that expose hundreds of properties corresponding to the features you need. Especially if you are new to these concepts, you need guidance and best practices.

We created Mastering Tabular to help you in this learning process!

This course is useful to different professionals working with Power BI and Analysis Services. After an initial review of all the modules, you can use the content as a reference while creating your model. This means reviewing specific modules in depth when you work on specific areas of the model, such as security, partitioning, aggregations, deployment, scaling out, and more.

Content is king

Here are the many things we teach that you did not know you needed:

  • Productivity: use any tool depending on your requirements – Power BI Desktop, Visual Studio, and Tabular Editor.
  • Choose the right model type: Import, DirectQuery over SQL, DirectQuery over AS (also known as composite models).
  • Understand the engine: learn the differences between the formula engine and the storage engine, how VertiPaq works, and how a DAX request is evaluated.
  • Refine the semantic model: improve the Tabular model by leveraging all the capabilities like KPI, detail rows, featured tables, date table, grouping columns, and data category. Take control of the standard properties like sorting, display folders, hierarchies, format string, summarize by.
  • Security: control row-level and object-level security to make sure sensitive data is not exposed to unauthorized users.
  • DirectQuery: connect a data source without importing data; understand the limitations and the differences with imported tables.
  • Composite models: extend existing Power BI or Azure Analyses Services models by importing new tables and creating new relationships, without making rookie mistakes that could result in poor performance or inaccurate results.
  • Aggregations: optimize DirectQuery models in Power BI by controlling and optimizing the aggregations.
  • Real-time architectures: DirectQuery, incremental refresh, push datasets: you have to know all the options to choose the right one.
  • Partitioning and processing strategies: manage the partitions, implement an incremental refresh, define and control the processing window, implement the required scripts.
  • Manage deployment and availability: backup, restore, scaling-out, automate deployment.
  • Hardware and service tiers: choose the right hardware or the right service tier for your solution.

There are only two topics not included in Mastering Tabular: the DAX language (covered in Introducing DAX, Mastering DAX, and Optimizing DAX) and the definition of the data model (covered in Introduction to Data Modeling and in Data Modeling for Power BI). Everything else is in the course.

Content is our priority in every course – yes, content is king – and its description had to go first in this presentation article. But now, we want to share the rationale behind many decisions we made when creating this new course; it can be helpful, and we would be curious to know too!

No compromises

When we looked at the table of contents, we were scared about the production process. The sheer amount of content, the complexity of certain demos, the need for the student to reproduce all the steps on their own device. We did many tests internally until we found a new format for the video course to satisfy our first constraint: no compromises. We did not want to sacrifice the content because of any technical limitation, or because of the length of the video. We adapted our learning platform to the increased length and density of lectures and demos, by adding features to better navigate through the content and use it as reference material after the first viewing. We also learned from the feedback received in previous video courses and we are confident we produced the best online training we have ever made. Until the next one, which we will try to improve based on the feedback we will receive, of course!

Let us stress once more the concept of using the training as reference material. We see many people consume the video courses this way, jumping to a specific section months after they have completed the course, probably to review a topic that is relevant to a particular task they are faced with in their job. In Mastering Tabular we expect this to be the norm, with the additional complexity of facing a “large” training, with 25 modules, 124 lectures, 172 demos. By improving the indexing, providing a full transcript that is synchronized with the video, and adding specific references to the folder containing the sample files of each demo, we hope to maximize the time spent on learning and minimize the time spent on searching.

Despite its length, Mastering Tabular cannot replace the documentation. The training has the right amount of detail to enable you to make an educated decision and evaluate your options when you face any architectural or implementation challenge. When you need more details, we provide the links to guide you in a more in-depth exploration of specific features.

Of course, we maintain the standard features of other SQLBI courses. The English subtitles and transcripts are professionally reviewed; from that source, we generate automatic translations in Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Russian, and Spanish.

Databases for practice

We did not include exercises for this video course. We simply do not believe they would be useful. For Mastering Tabular, we suggest practicing by repeating the tasks shown in each demo on the very sample databases we used and then using your own data. We created a new Contoso sample database covering more recent years (yes, we are in the twenties!) and providing databases of different sizes, depending on the demo. You can use the smallest database in most of the examples, but you want to use a larger one when dealing for example with partitions.

Development tools

You might have noticed that we mentioned three different development tools: Power BI Desktop, Visual Studio, and Tabular Editor. Well, the only tool that you will certainly use for your Tabular model regardless of the Microsoft product (Power BI or Analysis Services) is Tabular Editor. We wrote a long article describing why that is (see Development tools for Tabular models in 2021) and we used Tabular Editor in many demos: sometimes because it was the only option, other times because the demo was easier to make, many times because the video result just looks better. While Tabular Editor 2 is free and open source, we know that the developer’s productivity is so much better with Tabular Editor 3 that we wanted to enable every student to practice with it.
For this reason, we made the decision to provide to every student of Mastering Tabular a Tabular Editor 3 Enterprise license valid for three months starting from the activation date. We know that many companies do not need that license level, but if you want to practice with advanced enterprise features, you have all the tools you need! Please note that SQLBI and Tabular Editor are fully independent companies – we do not benefit from any sales at Tabular Editor; we do however strongly believe that it is the right product for our students to use.

Start learning now

If you happen to have purchased the SSAS Tabular video course in the past, you must have received an email informing you that you now have access to both the SSAS Tabular and Mastering Tabular video courses, at no additional cost. Check your inbox!

Are we forgetting something?

Yes, our launch offer on both transferable and non-transferable licenses:
Mastering Tabular is 20% off until September 9, 2021.

We do not provide discounts very often, and we definitely do not discount transferable licenses ever, so get your video course today!