I’ve been working with Microsoft Power BI for a while now and I would like to share with you how you get started using the tool , and some tips and tricks.
You can use Power Bi for free with some limitations or you could purchase a license. You can read more about it here. I also recommend following the Power BI blog for all updates on Power BI.
The first thing you wanna do is open up a browser window and head over to PowerBI.com. Sign in or sign up for free (You can use a Microsoft account or your orgazational account for this). I recommend downloading the Power BI Desktop client, this will allow you to get more hands on with the application.
Once the download is complete, go ahead and install. It shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes. With the Power BI Desktop client installed, boot it up! You will then see this page:
Here we have a lot of different choices. Before we do anything else I would sign in. This will give you access to reports that are shared with your user and the reports which you have created. On the left column we have four different options:
I will not explain every option, because some of them are pretty self-explanatory
The “Show Recovered Files” option allows you to open recovered Power BI reports. For instance, let’s say your computer crashed when you were in the middle of working with a report, select this option to recover your report.
The “Open Other Reports” let’s you open an existing Power BI Desktop (.*pbix) report or Template file (.*pbit).
But we will focus most on the “Get Data” option for now. This will give us a list of different datasources that we can pull data from. I have created a dataset (.csv file) in Excel (see the attached spreadsheet) which I’m going to use for this example:
Press “Connect” and browse to the location of the CSV file.
Power BI then gives me a preview of the dataset. I want to remove some of the columns before I load the dataset into the application. Press “Edit”. This will take me to the Query Editor and here I can do a lot of different formatting and transformations to my data. For now I will just delete all columns except Country (en), Continent and Population.
Press “Close & Apply” in the left, top corner.
So now we have our fields loaded into Power BI. You can see the name of the dataset and the three fields we added beneath it.
For most of the time you are just using drag and drop functionality to add values to the visualizations, filters and slicers. We are going to start with adding a map. There are currently four different map visualizations, but we are just gonna use the one called “Map” for now. There are two different ways of doing this. We can drag the values we want onto the white canvas and then add/change the “Map” visualization. Power BI will then try to understand what you want to do with that visualization. We could also start by dragging the “Map” visualization onto the canvas and then add values to it.
I will start by adding the values to the canvas, but you guys can try both ways. Depending on the value that I add first Power BI will suggest a visalization to use. If I add the “Country” field first, Power BI will suggest a map visualization, but if I add “Population” (which is a measure) first it will suggest something different, in this example a clustered column chart.
But this doesn’t really matter that much, because in Power BI it is so easy to change the visualization type. With the chart selected I can just simply press the other visualizations from the options menu, and the visualization will change.
With the “Country” and “Population” field selected, your Power BI report should look something like this:
This is great! We have all our values displayed on a map with many different bubbles showing us the size of the population. If you hover your moues over the bubbles you will get more detailed information. I also want a slicer, because i want to be able to filter this report by the “Conitnent” field. So add the “Continent” field to the canvas and select the “Slicer” from the visualization menu.
Your report should look something like this:
Now you can select a continent and the map will update based on your selection. Pretty cool! So this is basically the process on how to add fields to a Power Bi report. Play around with it and just try different stuff, it’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
That’s it for now! Up next I will go deeper into the Power BI application merging data, creating a dashboard and publish it to PowerBi.com.
If there are any questions use the comment area below or send me an email.