Now that we’ve studied the BI process, let’s look at each of the resources in the Power BI tool chest. We will describe the current name for each tool and a little more specific about what it does. We’ll also look briefly at the past of each instrument.
The Query Editor
The Query Editor is a tool that enables us to collect and transform our data. Data can be collected from a wide range of locations. In the method, the data can be manipulated from its native form into a format that is more conducive to analysis.
The Query Editor will collect data from a wide variety of sources—from text and Excel files to databases on websites such as Facebook. When the data is processed, it can be manipulated by the following processes:
- Distributing data to several columns
- Pivoting and unpivoting
- Replace values
- Shift data types
- Merge data from various data extractions into a single table.
The Query Editor was originally known as Power Query.
The xVelocity In-memory Analytical Engine
xVelocity In-Memory Analytical Engine is the long, official name of the technology that enables data storage (and retrieval) within Power BI. This technology was originally designed for use with the Power Pivot tool in Microsoft Excel. It is still often referred to as its shorter and catchier code name during its initial development: the VertiPaq engine.
The VertiPaq engine helps you to easily retrieve aggregated data by storing data in memory. Data is arranged more around columns of values in a table than around rows of values.
The Tabular Model
Data tables, relationships between these tables, and table hierarchies are described in Power BI using the Tabular Data Model. Business measurements are made using the measure in the Tabular model. Measures may be very simple, such as measuring the sum of a set of values, or very complex, such as setting the cost of goods sold or increasing the percentage of goods sold year-on-year. Measures are described in the Data Analysis Expressions language more commonly referred to as DAX.
Like the VertiPaq engine, the Tabular model was originally developed as part of the Microsoft Excel PowerPivot.
Power BI data visualization is achieved by a method originally known as Power View. Power View was originally part of Microsoft SharePoint and then part of Microsoft Excel until it ended up in Power BI. Power View was designed to allow users to create highly interactive, presentation-ready reports and dashboards in just a few clicks.
The Power BI Service, the Power BI Report Server, and Power BI Mobile
Power BI material is exchanged by publishing to the Power BI service or by saving to the Power BI Report Server. Power BI Service is a cloud-based platform otherwise known as PowerBI.com. Although Power BI Service can be used free of charge, most company level content sharing would require Power BI Pro or Power BI Premium licensing.
Power BI Report Server is a variant of the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) server. It can handle and distribute both SSRS and Power BI reports.
Both the Power BI service and the Power BI Report Server can be accessed through a modern browser. In addition, Microsoft has developed native applications for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 mobile devices under the name Power BI Mobile. The Power BI Mobile app will attach to both the Power BI Service and the Power BI Report Server local instance to allow users to interact with Power BI reports on a tablet or smartphone.