Blog

  • PASS Summit and MVP Summit 2015

    I’m currently sitting in Seattle-Tacoma airport waiting for BA048 to take me home, and coming to terms with what an amazing couple of weeks I’ve been fortunate to have. The PASS Summit I had the honour of being selected to speak at the PASS Summit last week, the biggest SQL Server conference in the World, with I believe in the region of 5,500 attendees. I’ve been a regular speaker at lots of the European events (SQL Bits, SQL…

    » Read more
  • MDX Compare or Rank Similar Members

    Or should this be called: “Recreating DAX’s EARLIER function in MDX” – either way, a useful technique that solves a problem… MDX makes it very easy for us to compare one member against others, using functions such as RANK() etc. But how do we dynamically compare a member against a subset of other members? I came across a customer requirement recently where we had to rank a member against other members that had…

    » Read more
  • Excel crashes when enabling macros

    I’ve had a problem with Excel 2013 crashing a number of times when opening/editing spreadsheets with macros. When I click ‘Enable Content’ to enable macros, the Excel window fades out, goes unresponsive and then crashes with a glorious “Microsoft Excel has stopped working, Windows is checking for a solution to the problem” message. Unfortunately Windows never seems to be able to find the elusive solution that we…

    » Read more
  • First thoughts on DataZen

    Following the recent announcement of Microsoft acquiring DataZen, I’ve been having a play around to see what it can and can’t do. Here’s a very brief summary so far: The Good: Very quick and easy design interface Fantastic way of modifying dashboard layout for tablets and mobile devices It seems to ‘just work’ very well You don’t have to worry about the pixel perfect layout of what’s where, it takes care…

    » Read more
  • Excel creates inefficient MDX

    Whilst investigating a slow set of Excel pivot tables (connected to a multidimensional SSAS cube), I found some odd behaviour in how Excel generates its MDX, sometimes doing far more work than if required and causing significant performance reduction. Take the following example, just querying Customer Count by Promotion, against the AdventureWorks cube. The profile trace (just using “Query Begin”, “Query End” and…

    » Read more
  • Microsoft Acquires Datazen

    Exciting news in the Microsoft Analytics space. On 14th April 2015 Microsoft announced they are acquiring Datazen – what does this mean, and is it a good or a bad thing? For all of PowerView’s good points, it’s still a very immature product. I’ve still not had a single customer take it seriously, aside from a few proof of concept implementations. It’s a good ‘personal analytics’ tool, but in my opinion…

    » Read more
  • New Azure User Group in Birmingham

    We’re launching a new Azure user group in Birmingham, UK! The first session is on Thursday 16th April, 6.30pm at the MAC (Midlands Art Centre) next to Edgbaston Cricket Ground. The first session will feature two of the most prominent Azure MVPs in the UK; Richard Conway (Blog | Twitter) and Andy Cross (Blog | Twitter). With Cloud based solutions becoming ever more prevalent, focusing on providing free Azure training and information for the…

    » Read more
  • BIML – What is it?

    I’ve noticed a growing trend over the last year – the ever growing presence of BIML (Business Intelligence Markup Language). So what is it? What does it do? And do you need to learn it? What is BIML? Simply, it’s a way of defining the functionality of an SSIS (Integration Services) package. If you’ve ever opened an SSIS .dtsx file in notepad you’ll see a daunting mess of GUIDs that you really don’t want to…

    » Read more
  • Why you should start presenting at conferences

    Have you presented a session at a user group or a conference? No? then read on to find out why you need to change that. Many of the readers of this blog will be active members of the SQL Server community, reading/writing blogs themselves, going to conferences or user groups, partitipating in webinars, etc. We’re fortunate in the UK to have the most active SQL Server community in the World. Yes there are physically more user groups and…

    » Read more
  • SSAS Tabular String Imported as Integer

    Let me start by saying that I think the SSAS Tabular model is great. But…. there are a number of problems that Microsoft still need to get ironed out. Not least of which is being able to import data properly directly from CSV/Text files. Yes you can import directly from csv, but you are given absolutely no control over the process, and this can lead to some serious problems. One of these issues is the rather odd automated data type…

    » Read more