Web & technology 5 Observations from Microsoft Build 2016

Microsoft’s Build conference for 2016 took place a couple of weeks ago, and true to form, there were a number of killer announcements and reveals for a number of services, tools, and frameworks, many of which are available today. Not one to ever really post something when it’s actually relevant, here are a few of the things that jumped out at me from the event.

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Impressions of Microsoft’s new-look Power BI
Development Impressions of Microsoft’s new-look Power BI

A couple of months ago, Microsoft’s new-look Power BI Preview rolled out globally. Ditching the Office 365/Sharepoint Online requirement, the new Power BI is a streamlined, simplified version of the product that attempts to lose some of the bloat and give users a focussed, easy-to-use, self-service BI platform.

So has it worked?

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Power BI for Office 365 first thoughts
Data & analysis Power BI for Office 365 first thoughts

I’ve been meaning to write something on Power BI for a long time now, and I’m a little late in getting round to writing this, as most of the dust has already settled after Microsoft sent out the first round of invites to the Power BI for Office 365 preview, and a lot of people have produced some amazing work with Power BI. Chris Webb has written a pretty comprehensive review on his blog, as have countless others.

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Development Fix login failed error while editing Table Properties in SSAS Tabular via Visual Studio

Just a quick post regarding a strange problem I encountered while working on an SSAS Tabular model project. Built on the same Vertipaq technology as Power Pivot, it’s very easy to get started and produce quick, efficient data models. Unlike Power Pivot, which runs as an Excel add-in, SSAS Tabular models are developed in Visual Studio via the SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) Business Intelligence add-on. However, once you load up the development environment, it’s almost exactly the same, the only difference really being that when you build a tabular model in VS, it is developed against a temporary cube on a pre-installed SSAS Tabular instance. Power Pivot just works entirely in memory, without requiring an SSAS instance.

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Microsoft announces Power BI for Office 365
Data & analysis Microsoft announces Power BI for Office 365

After launching a number of really neat self-service business intelligence plugins and components over the past couple of years, Microsoft has finally announced their complete self-service BI package: Power BI for Office 365. Incorporating Microsoft’s four big self-service BI components of the past year or so; PowerPivot, PowerView, Data Explorer and GeoFlow, the Power BI suite combines these parts into a single, unified offering. Most exciting of all though, is the inclusion of a mobile application for either Windows (I’m assuming Win 8) or iPad, which could very well be the secretive “Project Helix”, revealed at last year’s SharePoint Conference.

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GeoFlow brings 3D geographical visualisation to Excel 2013
Data & analysis GeoFlow brings 3D geographical visualisation to Excel 2013

The other week, Microsoft announced GeoFlow for Excel 2013 at the SQL PASS Business Analytics conference in Chicago. While it’s not exactly new, it is at least, a pretty impressive looking addition to the data visualisation toolkit.

However, while GeoFlow finally brings 3D geographical visualisation to Microsoft’s self-service BI utility belt (in your face, Batman), it’s hard to make a case for it for any purpose except wowing executives and potential clients.

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picnicerror.net is a personal blog for me to post various ideas, thoughts and discoveries through both my day to day work in marketing technology and general hobbies and interests.

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