30 Days to Success in Power BI: Day Two Loading a Web Data Source

Welcome back to day two of our series on Power BI! Are you sore from yesterday’s heavy lifting? No? Good. Did you forget where we left off? Here is the link to refresh your memory.

Today we are going to start with loading some data from a web data source. There are a ton of great data sources out there but I chose Baseball-Reference.com because of the wealth of information and statistics available there and I personally love baseball. It doesn’t matter if you are a baseball fan or not as this is just a demonstration. Feel free to find a different site for your favorite sport or activity.

Hank Aaron is generally considered to be one of the greatest baseball players of all time so we will grab some of his statistics and break them down in Power BI. With my company, Innovative Architects, being based in Atlanta, we’re pretty fond of Mr. Aaron here at the office. So let’s see where this takes us for this adventure.

Let’s start with opening Power BI.  We are greeted each time with this great modal dialog box. It is a great spring board. We can open a previous project or start a new one by clicking on Get Data.

Power BI Opening Screen

  1. Select Get Data to get started on our journey. Get Data Dialog
  2. Select Other to get to the Web data source option and select Connect.Other Data
  3. Select Web. Type in http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/aaronha01-bat.shtml and select Ok. This page will give us some lifetime stats for Hank Aaron so we can do some visualizations.Enter Web Address
  4. We are now connecting to the data into Power BI. Loading Data
  5. Now the fun part: figuring out which data that we want to load. Look at all of these tables. Which one is ours? Data Navigator
  6. Let me show you a trick. Click on the Web View tab around the middle of the screen. It will show our web page data as it appears normally. However, it will also label the tables so that we know which one we want to load. Snazzy, huh?Which Table?
  7. From here we can click on the Table 2 check box near the Standard Batting title for the table. That was much easier, huh? Select the Load button and Power BI will now start to load the data into the tool.webprocessing
  8. When that completes, we will actually have data loaded into Power BI to begin our work. If you look at table 2 on the right, you can see all of the columns that we saw on the web page.  The Data Is Loaded
  9. If we click on the data icon in the middle of the three icons on the right hand side of the screen, we can actually see the data. The other two show the report and the relationships between tables. We will get into that later on. Data Table
  10. Let’s Save the File as Hank Aaron and pick up again on Day Three. Good job! We are data visualization gods, right?

30 Days to Succeed in PowerBI

In the SQL Server community, I’ve seen quite a few 30 day blogs. I love the format with the idea being that you read the blog once a day for a month to master a new skill. Let’s go on adventure to learn PowerBI!

PowerBI is the latest Microsoft Business Intelligence tool. This tool, however, is considered a self-service tool in that it lets users create the data visualizations that they want to see instead of waiting for your in-house report writers to create a report for you. Excited yet? Don’t worry, you will be. It is a fun tool. Let’s get started.

Recently, I completed my first PowerBI project for a client of ours at Innovative Architects. It only took a couple of days to deliver multiple dashboards and they were beautiful if I do say so myself. This project inspired me to blog about getting started with PowerBI.

So day one needs to be getting PowerBI installed and ready to go. The first thing we do is to download the software at https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/get-started/ using an email address. This is important because PowerBI is getting monthly updates and the tool is adding features every month. You really want to know about them as they are released.

  1. Let’s start the installer and get this party going!


    Figure 1: Basic Installer Starting Point

  2. Strait forward so far, right? Click Next.


    Figure 2: Basic License Acceptance Screen

  3. Check the acceptance box and then click Next.


    Figure 3: Choose an Installation Folder

  4. Choose an installation folder by clicking Change or click Next to continue with the default location.


    Figure 4: Let’s Install Now!!

  5. Click Install to begin.


    Figure 5: We’re Done!

  6. Click Finish to end the installation. Wow, that was easy!

I told you it would be fun, right?  We have now installed PowerBI Desktop. We’re should probably take the rest of today off. See you tomorrow!

Taking Atlanta to a New Level… #SQLSatATLBI

SQLSAT477Having moved from Tampa a couple of years ago, I always wondered why Atlanta only had one SQL Saturday per year.  While Tampa has two SQL Saturdays, one regular event and one specifically for Business Intelligence (BI).  Atlanta, however, is the big daddy of SQL Saturdays (ok, ok, technically we are the second biggest SQL Saturday in the world but only by a few people and only because our venue will not physically hold anymore people thanks to that darned Fire Marshall and his silly rules about people cramming into a room).  Thus, it seemed only natural that Atlanta would also have a BI event with such a vibrant BI user community here.

In my consulting role at Innovative Architects, I’ve been doing quite a bit of BI projects and I absolutely love having irons in both fires.  In addition, there were a lot of people here that were interested in helping with an additional SQL Saturday.  We just needed a push to get it off of the ground.  Enter my co-worker Damu Venkatesan (t) who said “OK, let’s do this now!”  A few months later and we have moved to the wait list for registrations, we have almost sold out our sponsorship slots, and we have an amazing line-up of speakers.  Maybe I am biased, but I’ve been to at least thirty SQL Saturdays in my career and I think this is as good of a schedule as I’ve ever seen.  After the schedule was announced, the registrations filled up at a frantic pace.

We also had a few big names in the community submit pre-conference training abstracts for Friday, January 8th.  We ultimately decided on having two sessions for our first year even though we had several great submissions.  We finally decided upon SSIS Design Patterns and BIML: A Day of Intelligent Data Integration by Andy Leonard (b|t) for our first session.  Our second session, Microsoft BI In a Day, is being presented by Microsoft employees Patrick Leblanc (b|t) and Adam Saxton (t) who is also known in the community as Guy In A Cube (yt|t).

Below are some PowerBI visualizations, because this is a BI SQL Saturday!  Enjoy!

Speakers Across the Country

#SQLSatATLBI Speakers From Across the Country


#SQLSatATLBI Track Level Distribution

A Handful of SQL PASS #Summit15 Tips

The annual SQL PASS international conference will be here in less than a week.  OMG!!!  It’s been a year already?   First of all, if you haven’t registered yet, then why not? It is THE event for the SQL Community or #SQLFamily as we like to refer to it.  Still not sure about attending, then check out this page.  I promise that you will not be disappointed.

For those of you who have registered have you looked at the schedule yet?  Do you know all of the great speakers that you want to see?  Are you coming to see me compete in the Speaker Idol contest?  I will be up in the first round on Wednesday from 03:15 PM – 04:30 PM in TCC 101.  If I survive (and win) round one, then I will be competing in the final on Friday from 03:30 PM – 04:45 PM in the same room.  Come see eleven other great speakers compete for a chance to receive a guaranteed speaking slot in next years Summit, but mainly come to cheer me on with three hundred of my closest friends.

Now with the shameless plug out-of-the-way, on to the main purpose of this post.  Here are my tips for enjoying #Summit15:

  1. Meet people!  Shake hands, but more importantly give them a big #SQLHug.  We (well most of us) love #SQLHugs. Find me, give me a #SQLHug.  I will be glad and happy to meet you!  Standing in line for a coffee at the conference?  Say hello to someone, introduce yourself.  Set aside your introverted ways for this week!!
  2. Follow people on twitter before hand and let them know you’d like to meet them in person.  Ask them where they are going to be during the week and setup a rendezvous point with them.  Discuss some ideas and share a frosty beverage.
  3. Speaking of social media…if you setup your avatar to be a cute little ninja character, then do not be disappointed when no one knows who you are in real life.  If I see that cute ninja, I am sure to say hi but I don’t think I will see him there.  Use your real photo so I can find you!
  4. Go to as many networking events as you can possibly fit into the week.  If you are turning in at 9 o’clock, then you are missing the best part of the conference.  I have made so many lasting friendships over the years mainly because I went to the networking events and to the impromptu ones at Bush Gardens and the Tap House (not sure what those are, then bingle it with #SQLFamily and/or #SQLKaraoke).
  5. When NEW friends ask you to miss a session to go plant some gum on the Bubble Gum wall, go!  Enjoy yourself, this conference is fun!  Purchase the sessions and watch the ones you missed when you get back!
  6. Charge your phone, better yet carry a charging battery in your pocket and keep it charged throughout the day.  You do not want to miss that great photo-op with your favorite speaker because of a dead battery.
  7. Ask questions.  Don’t understand something, ask questions.  Go home with answers to your problems!
  8. Go sight seeing, explore the city!  Go a day early and stay a day later and check out the Pike Place Market, find the first Starbucks in that same area, visit the EMP Museum, view the skyline from the top of the Space Needle, and many, many more.
  9. Hang out in the community zone as its always an epi-center of fun!
  10. Wear a kilt!  Thursday is kilt day to support the Women in Technology luncheon (which you should go to as well)!

See you there!!!!

Pre-Con: Performance Tuning Training in Spartanburg, SC for #SQLSat431

On Friday, September 25th, 2015, Mike Lawell (b|t) and I will be giving our “Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning” pre-con training for the inaugural SQL Saturday Spartanburg.  We are extremely excited to be presenting this training again this year after the tremendous feedback we received earlier in Nashville.  We have a passion for the SQL community and helping DBAs and developers to do their job better.  We want to help you too!  If you’ve never taken a pre-con before a SQL Saturday, it is a great way to get some high quality training at a low price and in your local area.  Register here today!

In this session, we will take an in-depth look at performance tuning for the beginning DBA as well as the “Accidental DBA” in order to help prepare you for beginning to intermediate skills in tuning your real world queries. We will show you how to get started when you get the production support call stating that the database is slow. We will cover the basics of reading query execution plans as well as using dynamic management views in order to diagnose poor performance. We will also cover performance analysis tools and performance troubleshooting as well as some great demos to get you up and running tuning queries.

Prerequisites: Basic understanding of T-SQL and the SQL Server relational engine


  • An overview of server configuration best practices will be discussed along with key tools that can be used to identify performance problems.
  • Several DMVs will be covered that can be used for performance data collection and diagnosis of performance issues. Third party free tools that use these DMVs will be demonstrated for the data collection.
  • Common performance issues will be discussed along with the methods that can be used to identify the issues and resolve.
  • The final section will look at the graphical Execution Plan basics and how to identify potential performance issues.

We are planning on a day filled with fun and adventure!  Let us help you become a better DBA!  Not a DBA?  No problem!  This is also an excellent training for developers who are writing queries in T-SQL!

Register here!

If you cannot make it to the pre-con, then make sure you check out our regular sessions on Saturday.  Register here!  Enjoy!

Branching Out in Louisville

This weekend I will be branching out and presenting a business intelligence (BI) session at SQL Saturday Louisville.  By profession, I was a programmer turned DBA turned SQL Server consultant.  As a consultant, I have done a lot of BI learning and a lot more SQL Server development than previously as a database administrator.  In essence, I have broadened my skill set taking advantage of my previous skill set.  Therefore, it is only natural that I present a learning session on BI, or in this case Introduction to SQL Server Integration Services.  LogoThis session is great for the beginner to SSIS.  I have presented this at a user group in Atlanta earlier this year, but this will be my first BI session at a SQL Saturday.  Come on out to Louisville and learn about some SSIS with me!  Register here.

Documentation, the Necessary Evil

Everyone hates to write documentation, myself included.  No one likes to read your documentation either, if we’re being totally honest.  In my day, I have created some amazing documentation as well as some crappy documentation and both sit on a SharePoint site or file share somewhere dying from a cold, lonely existence never to be updated again.  Granted, someone will search for something, that one particular nugget that will help their understanding only to see that you glossed over that area and Jimmy is now besmirching your good name at the water cooler because of your poor documentation skills.  He said something about your mother as well, but I am not going to repeat that.  Not cool Jimmy, not cool.

As a consultant, I understand wholeheartedly the importance of documentation as it correlates to the success of the project at hand.  However, that doesn’t make it any easier or exciting to write and certainly doesn’t make it any easier to read. Have insomnia?  I have just the solution for you!!! Step right up and read this seventy page project discovery documentation outlining goals, tasks, and source to target mapping. Can you imagine being a technical writer producing these documents every day?  I dated such a person for a short time last year and she was just as boring as the documents that she was paid to create but that’s a topic for another day.

The flip side to this is that a project without initial documentation in a discovery process can lead to impending doom, heartache, mild stomach discomfort, depression, and diarrhea.  Well I am not sure about the diarrhea, but it will be bad, really bad.  Feelings will be hurt, your good name will be run through the mud, and the your parent’s having a child out-of-wedlock will be questioned (that would be calling you a bastard for you millennials out there as there was a time when that was an insult).  Herein lies the rub, you are going to have to advocate for documentation at the beginning of the process even though you despise doing it because simply your Mom’s honor is at stake.  Do it for your Mom, she still loves you even if Jimmy doesn’t.  Not cool Jimmy.  Enjoy!!

First Pre-Con is in the Books! What a Blast!

On Thursday, January 15, 2015, my good friend Mike Lawell (b|t) and I embarked upon our first pre-conference training for SQL Saturday Nashville. The event was a smashing success with a fabulous turnout.  In addition, the crowd was engaged and responsive, as a teacher it does not get any better than that.  363For those that attended our session, here are the files that we promised you.  We’ve included all of the links and the code contains a wealth of information as well as see the rest of the slides that we were unable to get to. Please use them and feel free to ask us any questions that you may have.  In addition, we are more than happy to help you at the beginning of your DBA journey.  Welcome to the #SQLFamily!

For those of you who did not attend, the session was entitled “Getting the New DBA Up to Speed with Performance Tuning.”  The session was aimed at new and ‘accidental’ DBAs as they embark upon a journey learning the art of performance tuning.  If you are a SQL Saturday organizer, we would love to offer this session at your event.  Please feel free to contact us if you would like us to provide this session for you.  Enjoy!



2015: Let’s Do This!!

Happy New Year!  For some reason, I did not do a year in review post for 2013 or make any resolutions for 2014.  So let’s fast forward and do one this time.  This last year was an amazing year for me professionally: I moved to Atlanta, started working for an amazing company (Innovative Architects), traveled across the country speaking at different SQL Saturday events, and ultimately Microsoft named me a SQL Server MVP for 2014.  How do you top that?  I am not sure that it is possible, but I plan on trying.

So now I think I have a plan for 2015.  Are you ready?

I am planning on speaking for at least five out-of-state SQL Saturdays, helping coordinate our event here in Atlanta again, attending PASS Summit again in Seattle,  volunteering with the PASS organization again, and submitting to speak again.  As a speaker I will continue to grow, and I am doing my first pre-conference session in Nashville on January 15th with my good friend Mike Lawell (t|b).  In addition, I have been named an Ambassador for IA for 2015 and will continue to be vocal about our #WorkSomePlaceAwesome campaign, help with recruitment, and giving back to the community.

While we are on the subject, this company that I work for has a motto that ‘we work with people who do not suck.’ This mentality leads to an amazing and fun work place.  It is by far the best job that I have ever had and that is saying a lot since I once had a dream job around the turn of the millennium.  Anyway, since being named MVP by Microsoft, we now have three working at IA and I am going to try and help encourage a few others to be more active in the community and possibly grow some more MVPs.  In addition, there are a few other speakers in my Atlanta MDF user group that I believe can or should be MVPs as well.  The theme for this year professionally I believe will be to help others grow as I grow.

So let’s get to the fun resolutions while we are here.

I will double my live concert output from last year and see at least 25 this year alone (have tickets for four upcoming shows currently).  I am a season ticket holder for the Braves this year and that will double the amount of games that I went to last year.  I will also aim to do at least five other sporting events next year (Falcons, Hawks, Gwinnett Braves, the GT-UGA football game, and possibly the Gwinnett Gladiators hockey team).  Let’s also throw in a few Broadway shows and plays (I have tickets to Wicked already for February) as well as some cultural events as Atlanta has epic festivals and events such as Dragon Con.  Finally I also plan to try to finish my Atlanta bucket list (which has 50 items that every person should see or do in Atlanta…I did nine of them in 2014).

Oh I almost forgot that I am moving in a couple of weeks to the Old Fourth Ward area of downtown Atlanta which is a culturally rich area and will start a new chapter of my Atlanta journey.  I am moving into a renovated nearly hundred year old Sears & Roebuck warehouse, now called Ponce City Market which will be the epicenter of awesomeness in 2015 and has already been recognized in several publications.  If you are passing through Atlanta in 2015, come see me after the winter and the mixed use development should be completed and in full swing.  Then we can play putt putt on the roof or have a drink in an old train box car on the roof viewing the gorgeous Atlanta skyline as well as visiting some of the stellar restaurants located inside the building.

I hope you have an epic 2015!  Happy New Year!


Presenting in Orlando for SQL Saturday #318!!! Extra #SQLHugs for ALL!

I am humbled and genuinely excited to be returning to Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, September 27th, 2014.  This was the first ever SQL Saturday that I attended as well as a year later it was where I gave my first full session, so it has a special place in my heart.  Being from Florida, it will be nice to go back and see so many of my friends that I have not seen since moving to Atlanta.  Needless to say that there will be extra long #SQLHugs with the #SQLFamily so be prepared.

I have taken my previously new, “So you have a performance issue.  What now?” and transformed it into a two-part session with Mike Lawell (t)  covering the full gamut of performance tuning for the beginning DBA or accidental DBA.  This is a great series that will dive into how to get started in performance tuning.  In other words, how do you find the query that is bad from all of the other queries running in your system and where do you go from there?  I hope to see you there!

Have you registered to attend yet?  If not please do so immediately and get a free #SQLHug from me!


SQL Saturday Orlando Logo