Category: Esbrina

Today’s topic is more like an academic exercise than a production use case, but there are a lot of learnings along the way and I think it’s worth the effort.

The other day I saw a tweet by Igor Cotruta that talked about «text fingerprinting». The idea is embedding the user id in invisible characters so that if the exported data get’s eventually leaked it can be traced back  to whoever exported it. Looks like stuff from a spy movie, so I was quickly on-board in the attempt to reproduce that with Power BI with a Calc Group.

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Ok, I have maybe gone a bit overboard with the title, but I think it has some advantages over other hacks out there to establish the column widths of matrix, so here I am to explain how I came up with it and how to use it.

The first hack I saw was from Ben Ferris (aka The Power BI Guy) which added a dummy measure with a number of 0 to make the width (having automatic width enabled) and then it would disable automatic widths and remove the measure. Nice. But of course, if new columns appear you’ll  need to set the thing again. Something similar happens with the approach of Bas, who skips the dummy measure thing and instead just plays with the format string to show the evenly wide number. His approach is cooler because you skip the measure thing, but you have the same weak points.

However, Bas’s video got me thinking on the topic and the role of format strings…

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Ok, it’s a long title, but it’s the best I came up with.

So here’s the story. At work there was a sales report with a nice matrix. On the rows, we had several product attributes like category, subcategory and so on. On the columns it was a bit weird because they wanted to show the day of sale, but also compare with the day of sale from the previous year, and with some particular logic for  comparison: if current year had equal or more days of sale than the previous one, it should match day one with day one and so on. However, if previous year had more days of sale, it should match starting from the back, so day one of sale would be matched with day 2 or 3 of previous year. Anyway, this is just to say that I put a measure saying what was the actual day of sale for current year, and previous year, as well as the actual date, because sales are different depending on the day of the week. Then we had cumulative sales, daily sales, for current and previous year. So far so good. Oh I forgot. On top of that there was like % over forecast measure that was the source of all ills.

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This may seem trivial, but it did not pop up in my head at first, so might be useful to somebody else.

In sales reports, there are lots of numbers. And if it’s a large company these numbers may be very large. So depending on the visual, the full number may be a bit too much, and having just thousands or millions is more than enough.

«Fear not», you will say, Power BI has this use case on it’s ‘done’ list and you can choose the display units from the format pane. Well. Maybe. But it’s so rigid.  I mean, if you don’t like whatever word or letter it shows for the unit, you’re stuck. You can’t change the display units without a suffix.  And if you configure power bi in catalan (who doesn’t? — just kidding, I use the English version), the «abbreviation» for (american) billions is something like

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Hi there. In my previous post on how to set up a «data problems» button I did mention that there was a further improvement to the approach, so here I am to explain what is this about.

As you may recall, in my previous installment on the topic, the user is warned that there is some issue with the data through a button that brings him or her to a page where can see exactly what are the issues, such as unmapped items or any other data issues (dates which are not dates, numbers which are not numbers, duplicates…). Today will stick with the mapping problems. In such case you had to copy the offending items, add them to the excel table, and complete the (manually maintained) extended attribute columns.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if those items could automatically travel to the excel file?

Well, this is exactly what we’ll try to get to in this post. We are going to do data mapping with table connected to the dataset

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In this post I’ll explain how to break the tyranny of the «all filters» that are passed to the tooltip in particular the filters set by a calculation group which are even nastier to get rid of than regular filters.

It wasn’t intended this way, but this post is sort of a sequel (and not SQL) of my post on dynamic labels for time calculation series, which itself builds on the post introducing the time intelligence calculation group script. If you have not read them you can also watch the video you’ll find on the end of each post — although from the sound quality maybe it’s less painful to read the blog!

Anyway, if you are here probably you know something about calculation groups, and that’s good, because there’s plenty of them coming.

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I’ve seen it many times. While there is a set of «official» attributes for a product, or a client or whatever, a department may choose to group them through one or more custom attributes. And what do they do? Of course, they create an excel file where they manually maintain a table with the key (hopefully) and all the custom columns. They will tell you that they update it whenever a new value appears in the datasource, but if you double check this statement you might get let’s say «mixed results» at best.

Nothing says «there is a problem» as a red button appearing in your report. And if it offers «actionable insight» on how to solve the problem, so much better. So this is what we’re going to do: A data problem button.

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As I continue my journey with calculation groups I realize that fewer and fewer people may be interested in what I write, but then I think, «so what?» So here I am.

My script to create a Time Intelligence Calculation Group based on Daxpatterns.com definitions got a lot of attention (for my standards, anyway), so I kept on thinking if there’s anything that would go nice with it.

Indeed, in the latest iteration of the script, there are two measures that aim at providing some sort of dynamic labeling. «Label as Value Measure» is a measure that when in the scope of a Time Calculation of the calculation group, will show the appropriate label taking into account the filters on the date table. For instance, if you select YTD calculation item and year 2008, the measure will show «2008 YTD». And so on. (Label as Format String does the same but using the format string expression so it can be used as sort of dynamic axis labels if you want to place several calculations as the X-axis, but we’ll focus on «Label as Value Measure» which has more general applications)

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Sometimes we face models which can’t be built because we fall into the circular relationship (which Power BI protects us against) or ambiguity (which sits there silently making all our results meaningless). I faced one of this situations the other day at work and found a workaround with –you guessed it– a calculation group.

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This is one problem that you don’t realize it’s a problem until you face it.

Happened to me designing a P&L report. For this report, an arbitrary list of items (arbitrary to me of course) has to be displayed in certain order, each with it’s own arbitrary calculation, and even with some hierarchy indentation. Easier said than done, really.

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