Tag: BI

Power BI with Dynamics 365 for Operations

Hello everyone, this Power BI blog is going to focus on how it is used with New Dynamics AX i.e. AX 7 or Dynamics 365 for Operations. Apart from Power BI being integrated within AX 7, there are also some pre built content packs that can be used to analyze the retail and cost management models of our AX. So, to cut the long story short, we are going to see how we can connect AX 7 with one of these pre-built content packs in Power BI.

Let’s start, first of all open and login to Power BI cloud using your account, it is pretty important and must be noted that the user you are going to login afterwards must be an enabled user in AX 7, otherwise it will throw authentication error while fetching data.

Now, first of all, click on Get Data from the main workspace and then click on Services Data option.


After the available content packs show up, navigate to the ones that refer to AX, in this demo, I am going to use the Microsoft Dynamics AX Cost Management Content Pack.


After the available content packs show up, navigate to the ones that refer to AX, in this demo, I am going to use the Microsoft Dynamics AX Cost Management Content Pack.


After pasting the URL, click next and you will be asked the Authentication method to sign in to AX 7, select OAuth2 from there.


After clicking on Sign in button, a new tab page will open that will ask for your Office 365 or AX 7 credentials, make sure you enter the correct ones here.

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After the authentication is complete, it will show a status bar that indicates that data fetch is in process.


Once done, it will open up the Dashboard that is created using your AX 7 data, you can now play around with Natural Language Query and other cool stuff available within Power BI.


Multiple reports are also filled up with data in the Reports section, you can easily modify or create new reports on top of those.


That’s it, it is as simple as that. And this content pack covers all the related scenarios of Cost Management, there are more AX data sources anticipated to be added to the already amazing content packs list and then again there is Power BI embedded in AX 7 as well. See you again.



Quick Insights Feature in Power BI

Microsoft Power BI contains numerous useful features which makes it a unique and intelligent Business Intelligence solution, apart from being simple and extensive its data source connectivity and support is huge, it supports most of the prospective data sources that users can use to improve their businesses. One of those unique features is the Quick Insights feature that is available in the Power BI service, this feature is really cool as it can help you make heavy Reports and Dashboards without you having to define the visuals or spend hours on deciding the appropriate scenarios.

Actually, what this feature does is that it takes the data and its structure from whatever data source that you’ve defined/used and automatically generates all the possible visuals based on the data, isn’t it great that all of your work is efficiently handled by Power BI itself, imagine you having to create large reports/dashboards in a very limited time, this ‘Quick Insights’ feature can solve that headache for you and create all the possible solutions and you just have to pick the ones that seem important to your organization. Let’s move forward and have a small demo on this.

I am going to use a sample data source and this time for the sake of simplicity and showing the adaptability of Power Bi, I am going to use an Excel sheet instead of a complex data source. If you want a demo on other data sources you can refer to my previous blogs defining multiple data sources that can be used. So let’s start.

The Excel file that contains my sample data is located in a folder on my local directory.


It contains a very simple data model i.e. Item Sales by Date, Units and Region with a limited set of data as shown in the below snapshot.


Open up the online Power BI app, click on Get Data and then from the available four initial options select the Get Data from Files button as shown below.


Then it will ask the location of that file as in Power BI you can upload files from multiple locations e.g. One Drive, SharePoint or Local etc. I am going to select the Local File option.


After that, you’ll have further options which will basically ask if your Excel file contains a Report that you want to view in Power BI or it just contains raw data that you have to use in your Reports etc. As in my case, it contains only data I’ll select the Upload file option.


Once the data upload is complete, it’ll notify us through a Power BI notification.


You can now access your Data in the Datasets section of your Workspace, when you click the options on that dataset, there’ll be a option named Quick Insights, click on that button.


Once you hit that button, it’ll take a few minutes(based on the volume of data) and will try to create all the possible visuals that can be created from the available data.


After the Insights are ready, click on the View Insights option to see the automatically created visuals.


There are various visuals created covering all the possible scenarios/ways that the data can be used or manipulated, I’ve attached snapshots of a few below.



Now, I’ll have to select the visuals that I think are important and useful and pin those on my dashboard for the current dataset.


Now, I’ll have to select the visuals that I think are important and useful and pin those on my dashboard for the current dataset.


That’s it for today, just to recap, we explored the Quick Insights feature available in Power BI and created a Dashboard without us having to even create a single visual or report. See you soon.

Installing and Configuring Power BI Gateway for Data Refresh

Hello once again, we are back with another exciting blog on Power BI and this time we are going to explore the Power BI Gateway that needs to be installed on your Database server so that the online app can refresh its datasets on a regular basis to make sure the reports and dashboards are updated with the latest data. For this demo, I am going to use the example from my previous blog  (https://axtricks.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/using-microsoft-dynamics-ax-as-power-bi-data-source/)

in which I created a Report for InventOnhand in Microsoft Dynamics AX based on the data available in SQL Server database for AX.

Let’s start, first and foremost we’ll need to publish our pbix file to the Power BI online app as we created it on our local environment using Desktop version of Power BI, I am going to publish this one to my Organisational group that I created in an earlier blog (https://axtricks.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/sharing-and-collaboration-in-power-bi/) instead of my Workspace.


As soon as my report is available online, I wanted to add a few more ‘Numerical’ visualisations for a proper monitoring of the data and its data updating.


Then, I created a Dashboard where I pinned all my visualisations for an end user scenario, if you are new and want to look at how to create reports and dashboards, you can look up an earlier blog of mine where I explained it in detail (https://axtricks.wordpress.com/2017/07/10/creating-a-simple-report-using-powerbi/).


Now, let’s move forward and install the Data Gateway for Power BI, you can easily download it from this link (https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=820925&clcid=0x409). Once you’ve downloaded, open up the installer, first it will ask the type of gateway that you want to install, in my case and for the sake of simplicity I am going to use the Personal Gateway.


We get a few notes from Microsoft regarding the Gateway, make sure you follow all the best practices.


After you’ve chosen the version of Power BI Data Gateway, it will want you to sign in to your Power Bi account so it knows to what account does the gateway needs to be signed up.


The NEXT button will open up a new form where you can enter your account details, after you are done, hit SIGN IN.


After the Power BI account is Signed In, it will need your Database Server Credentials so that it can access the Database that you want the data to be refreshed from, just make sure you enter proper Username and Password as well as the domain for your User.


After all the configurations, it will finally give you the good news i.e. the Gateway is successfully set up and you are good to go with setting up your Data Refresh now. Please note that there are sometimes version or account issues with the Gateway, the first solution that I myself came up with was to uninstall the Gateway, sign out of my Power BI Desktop, install the Gateway again and then sign in form Power BI Desktop, after which, try reconfigure the gateway.


Now, moving towards our online service i.e. the Power BI app, click on the “Manage Gateways” menu from the location as shown in the following snapshot.


There, I created a new Gateway and defined my Database server i.e. server name, database name, credentials etc.


You can also add users that you want to have access to the gateway, in my scenario I didn’t need to so I let it go as it is.


Now, as our Power BI Data Gateway is installed, configured and defined on the online app as well, let’s create a schedule to refresh our data, you can also select a Refresh Now button to refresh the data manually.


It lets me go through the settings for the Dataset refresh, where I have my credentials and other information saved, let’s change “Schedule Refresh” from Off to ON.


But before defining the recurrence of Data Refresh let’s make sure our Gateway is properly set and ready to go, open the Gateway connection fast Tab and you can see in my case it shows online.


Moving forward, I am going to define the Time for refresh and set the frequency to refresh the Dataset daily.


After you are done, it shows a notification telling that the data refresh has been set and now your data will be update according to the recurrence defined by you in the refresh settings.


That is all for today, we learned how to set the Data Gateway and set the Refresh Schedule to update our datasets online using the Database server hosted anywhere as the Gateway acts as a bridge between them. See you again with a new topic soon. Thanks

Using Microsoft Dynamics AX as Power BI Data Source

In my previous Power BI blogs, we have discussed in detail the basics which included creating a simple report using an online webpage as the data source as well as exploring the sharing capabilities included in Power BI, but most of the topics were general and were related to the Power BI’s cloud app, so we decided to use the desktop version of Power BI this time in addition to using the most powerful ERP solution i.e. Microsoft Dynamics AX as the data source. For demo purpose, we decided to use the most popular scenario/problem in AX i.e.  real-time visualisations/analyzation of OnHand items and its related fields with a touch of Business Intelligence to it.

Power BI Desktop is a desktop version of Power BI used for on-premises creation of Datasets and Reports mostly using data files hosted locally like in our current case, once the reports are created you can easily publish them to the Power BI cloud app and use the app’s features i.e. sharing, dashboards etc. Power BI desktop is available online and can be easily downloaded from there. Let’s now go straight to the point and start making a report for OnHand items in AX.

After you have successfully installed the desktop version of Power BI, open the application and click Get Data.


It will open a dialog with option to select various data sources, we’ll be choosing Microsoft SQL Server as our AX’s database is hosted there.


Once you have selected SQL server as your data source, it will ask for the Database Server and the Database Name from where the data is to be fetched.


It will ask for the credentials to be used in accessing the Database Server, make sure you have the appropriate rights for it.


After selecting the Database Server, Database Name and entering the appropriate credentials, it will show all the tables that are available in Dynamics AX’s Database, in our scenario we’ll only be needing tables related to inventory and to be exact we are going to fetch three tables from AX which are inventDim, inventTable and inventSum.


As we have a multiple data tables scenario, we’ll need to define the relationships between our selected tables, to do that go to the relationship tab and select “Manage Relationships” from the toolbar.


It will open up a dialog where we need to define the columns in our tables that are the criteria for relations among them, in our case the inventSum and inventDim tables were joined on InventDimId whereas inventSum and inventTable were joined on ItemId field so it was pretty straightforward to create the relationships, if your tables have obvious columns for the relations you can also try the auto detect button at the bottom which will detect them automatically.


Once the relations are created, it will preview the ERD for you in the same relations tab. It can easily be seen that inventDim and inventTable tables both have one-to-many relationship with the inventSum table.


After describing and setting proper relations for our tables, lets now format our data according to our needs here, for my scenario I just defined the data types of the unidentified columns so that I can play with them in my report with their appropriate usage, another thing that I did in the formatting phase was removing all the irrelevant columns so that I have a clean set of data that only contains useful information as needed for my scenario.


After the data is formatted and ready to be used let’s move forward and create the Item OnHand report for Microsoft Dynamics AX. First of all, I am using a pie chart visualization to show the physical availability of all the items that are available in my warehouses.


Moving further forward, I am adding some more useful visualisations using the AX’s Onhand information that will help the user analyse the real time status and information for the available items in a very interactive way, I added a stack area chart with Ordered, Received and Posted Quantities as well another visual with comparison between Reserved Physical and Available Physical quantities. We can create a lot more visualisations according to our needs/requirement.


Being a very large ERP solution with multiple Legal Entities, Sites and Locations for an Organisation, a filter will be very helpful in analysing the data by each of the available options, therefore I am adding three filters to my report that will be Location, Legal Entity and Site filters. Also, as Power BI is already that much intelligent/interactive that we don’t have to define any logic behind the filters, you’ll just have to pick your selection and it will automatically filter all the visualisations according to it.


That is pretty much all I have today for the topic “Using MS Dynamics as Power BI data source”, nevertheless, we can create various reports using AX’s data and visualise the live status of the Organisation as well as predicting its future with the ability to define strategies using the historical data to make Organisation more profitable and up to date. There will be more coming your way on Power BI soon, so stay tuned. Also, if you have any queries or want us to focus on a particular feature in our next blogs, please feel free to contact me.


Sharing and Collaboration in Power BI

In this Power BI blog, we will be talking about how you can share datasets, reports, dashboards and collaborate with your colleagues and partners. There are basically two ways of sharing stuff in power BI:

  1. Sharing an object through share option in Navigation Pane.
  2. Sharing through Organizational Content Pack.

We will be discussing both. In this example, I am going to share an IT Analysis Sample within a group which I will create for my organization i.e. AXPulse.

To share our stuff, we need to create a Group first, so, once you have accessed the Power BI portal, you can see an area in the Navigation Pane that refers to the Groups the current user has created.


Now, to create a new Group lets click on the Create New Group option available below Work spaces.


Once you click the Create Group option, a Dialog will open up that will ask a few basic questions about its name, the type of Group that you want to create as well as the Users that will be included in the Group, users can be added based on their email addresses.


Once you have defined all the users that you want to share with, it will ask about the accessibility level of the Group Members i.e. you can define a user to have Admin rights over the Group. There are other options as well that define if a user has the rights to edit the content or is he just allowed to view the reports.


After you hit Save, the group is created and it will take you to the Home Page for that Group Workspace, my Group’s name is AXPulse you can name it whatever you want. As you can see currently there are no datasets, reports or dashboards shared with the Group, so let’s start sharing.


1 – Sharing a particular object through share option in Navigation Pane :

Let’s go back to our Workspace, navigate to the Dashboards, click on the three dots that show up with our IT Analysis Sample Dashboard, it will show various options, one of which allows us to share the dashboard, go ahead and click the Share button.


For demo purpose, I am sharing the dashboard with myself, once I have filled up all the information, it will send an email to the recipient to with the Dashboard needs to be shared.


Now the user to whom the Dashboard is shared can easily view the Dashboard that we shared with him, he can also navigate to it by just clicking the link provided in the Email that is sent by Microsoft Power BI, this is the first scenario of sharing and collaboration in Power BI.


2 – Sharing through Organizational Content Pack :

Now, moving on to the second way of sharing which is through creation of an Organizational Content Pack. To create a content pack, click on the settings tab located on top right beside the notifications tab. Once you click the create content pack button, it will open a page which will ask about the basic description of the content pack i.e. name, description, etc. In my scenario, I want to create the content pack that will access of every person included in the Group that I created earlier named ‘AXPulse’.


After entering the basic info, it will also ask you to enter the items that you want to share/publish to the Group, one thing that needs to be mentioned here is that if you select a Dashboard to be published, it will automatically select its corresponding reports and datasets. After the information is entered, click Publish.


After the content pack is created, a notification will be sent to all the users in the Organisational Group.


Now, when you try to ‘Get Data’ from Organisational Content Pack, it will show you the recently created content pack that I created for my Organisational Group.


If you get the Content Pack, it will automatically add the stuff included in that content pack to your workspace.


These are the two ways of Sharing in Power BI, that is all from our today’s topic “Sharing and Collaboration in Power BI”. Thanks

Creating a Simple Report using PowerBI

Hi everyone, today we are going to create a simple report using Power BI and will discuss the features at each step as we go along. For demo purpose, let’s take some data of all the Football World Cups held until now.

You can actually get data directly from a webpage in Power BI, in my case I have chosen Wikipedia, the simpler and free source of information. Open Power BI and click Get Data, a screen with data source options will show up:


Let’s put the URL of the webpage that we want to fetch the data from.


Once you hit OK, it will load all the corresponding Tables that it found through the webpage. I will choose Results table that has the information about the Winners, Runner Ups etc. of each Football World Cup until now, after you check the Results table, it will show a preview of what data is available in it.


As the data is not in our required form i.e. Columnar Form (recommended for Power BI), I will edit the data before loading it. After I click Edit button it will open up the Table and will provide many formatting/editing options that I can choose from.


Here, I have truncated the Year column to show only the Year number, as well as added a new column i.e. Country, as I will use it afterwards in my report, once the changes done, my data will look something like below, I can Publish my Data set now to the Power BI app.


So, after the formatting is complete and dataset is published to the Power BI app, let’s now play around with our data and create a simple report.

Let’s first use a map visualisation to show which nation/country has won how many Football World Cups to its name. In the example attached below you can see it shows me the WC counts i.e. 5 for Brazil.


Let’s extend our report and add another visualisation, this time a Pie Chart. I am adding the Country column, Host column and Winners column and it will break up the chart for Winning Nations and the Country where they won it i.e. the Host.


One more thing that is missing is the By Year information about the World Cups, so let’s add a Filter to our report, it can be added same as the previous two visualisations, just select Year for its value and it will work as a filter for our report, as shown below, when I select Year 2014, it automatically refreshes my other two visualisations and show appropriate results accordingly.


That is just a basic introduction of creating a report on Power BI app, but this is not all, there is more to come on this topic, so stay tuned. Thank you.