Santa Claus brings presents to #dax, #powerbi, and #ssas #tabular users

If you think that the end of the year would have been a quiet time because the Power BI team will skip their monthly release (but are we sure?), you might be reassured (or disappointed depending on your perspective) looking at the news I have in this blog post.

SSAS Tabular vNext CTP 1.1
In 2017 Microsoft will release a new version of Analysis Services. We already have a preview (CTP 1.1) that has been released last week. Christian Wade wrote a nice blog post about what’s new in this preview (and Christian Wade donated the BISM Normalizer to the community as an open source tool – yes, it’s free now!). We have a new compatibility level (1400) and I will not repeat the list of new features. But there is M integrated in SSAS Tabular. And you have full control over drillthrough. I waited for this feature since 2005, for Multidimensional. Next year we’ll have full drillthrough control in Tabular. This will make Multidimensional developers jealous, I know.

If you want to test these features, you don’t have to install the entire SQL Server vNext: just create a virtual machine and download SQL Server Data Tools for CTP 1.1. You can test everything using the integrated workspace. (don’t use this release on your workstation or to create “real projects”, it’s unsupported and might have issues).

DAX Studio 2.6
If you use DAX, you probably use DAX Studio. If you don’t, you have to! Darren Gosbell just announced the 2.6 release. If you use the Server Timings pane or you analyze the DAX queries generated by Power BI, this version has a big improvement, because it manages multiple results (you can execute multiple EVALUATE statements in a single operation). In any case, you should install this version because of the many bug fixes and the improved stability. For example, if you modify the model in Power BI (or SSAS Tabular, or Power Pivot), the existing connection in DAX Studio will nicely manage the changes, showing you the updated metadata automatically. And without crashing (I know, there were some bug changing metadata before…).

Updated Custom Visuals for Power BI from OkViz
A few months ago, Microsoft released a new API for custom visuals in Power BI. This API will solve many stability issues, creating a shield for custom visuals that will not be impacted by changes in the underlying Power BI platform (something that happened at least once a month this year). The new API was not complete at the beginning, but in the latest version (1.3) it reached a level that allows to release a new version of the OkViz components based on the new APIs without losing existing features.

In the meantime, we also added new features to the components and if you use one or more of these custom visuals, I strongly suggest you to consider upgrading them in your reports. The price to pay is that this time the update requires a manual activity. The automatic upgrade provided by the Power BI Gallery would have broke too many reports, because we modified (and improved) the behavior of certain properties, following the many suggestions and feedback received. Breaking compatibility is an exceptional event and we don’t want this to happen in the future, but we considered that this time it was a necessary operation. This choice is also conservative, because all the existing reports will continue to work. But you should consider that sooner or later Microsoft will remove support for “legacy” custom visuals, based on the old APIs. Thus, don’t be in a hurry trying to upgrade. Take your time, try the new features, but make a plan for an upgrade path of your reports.

Ok, here is the list. It’s big. Every component has an article describing the new features. We will provide demo videos later, but we didn’t want to wait more before releasing them!

DAX and SSAS Training worldwide
As you know, I and Alberto Ferrari deliver training on DAX, Power BI, Power Pivot, and SSAS Tabular. We try to organize courses where there is a demand (we receive many suggestions for cities we should visit), and I’m happy to announce that in 2017 we will deliver several workshops in United States, and we already open registration for dates in Australia and Europe.

Workshops in Australia
I will be in Sydney and Melbourne between February and March 2017, delivering the workshops SSAS Tabular (Feb 20-21), Mastering DAX (Feb 22-24 and Feb 27-Mar 1), and Optimizing DAX (Mar 2-3). If you want to see more details, visit our page for training in Australia. If you are interested in some of these dates, hurry up and get the early bird discount before it’s too late!

Workshops in United States
The first dates are Seattle, WA (March 27-31, 2017 – Mastering DAX + Optimizing DAX) and Houston, TX (April 3-7, 2017 – SSAS Tabular + Mastering DAX). Registrations will open in January, and in the next few weeks we will announce workshops in other cities. If you are interested, vote your favorite city helping us to prioritize them. If you want to receive promptly notification about future dates, register to our newsletter.

Workshops in Europe
Finally, we will continue to deliver our workshops in Europe, too: London, Amsterdam, Vienna, and Copenhagen are the dates already published in the first semester (visit links for more details and for registrations). We might also add some other city in January (Paris, Helsinki, and another city are under evaluation).