Microsoft Excel 2013: Building Data Models with PowerPivot

Microsoft Excel 2013: Building Data Models with PowerPivot PDF

Author: Alberto Ferrari and Marco Russo

Publisher: Microsoft Press


Publish Date: March 25, 2013

ISBN-10: 0735676348

Pages: 500

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

Who this book is for

The book is aimed at Excel users, project managers, and decision makers who wish to learn the basics of PowerPivot for Excel 2013, master the new DAX language that is used by PowerPivot, and learn advanced data modeling and programming techniques with PowerPivot.

Assumptions about you

This book assumes that you have a basic knowledge of Excel 2010 or Excel 2013. You do not need to be a master of Excel; just being a regular user is fine. We will cover what is needed to make the transition from Excel to PowerPivot, but we do not cover in any way the fundamentals of Excel, like entering a formula, writing a VLOOKUP function, or other basic functionalities.

No previous knowledge of PowerPivot is needed. If you already tried to build a data model by yourself, that is fine, but we will assume that you never opened PowerPivot before reading the book.

Organization of this book

The book is designed to be read from cover to cover. Trying to jump directly to the solution of a specific problem, skipping some content, will probably be the wrong choice. In each chapter, we introduce concepts and functionalities that you will need to understand the subsequent chapters. Moreover, we wrote some chapters knowing that you will need to read them more than once, because the theoretical background they provide is hard to take in at a first read.

The book is divided into 16 chapters:

Chapter 1, offers a guided tour of the basic features of PowerPivot for Excel 2013. By following a step-by-step guide, we show the main benefits of using PowerPivot for your analytical needs. We show how to create a simple Power View report as well.

Chapter 2, shows the features that are available only if you enable the PowerPivot for Excel add-in. This includes calculated columns, calculated fields, hierarchies, and some other basic features. It is the logical continuation (and conclusion) of Chapter 1.

In Chapter 3, we start covering the DAX language, including its syntax and the most basic functions. We highlight the difference between a calculated column and a calculated field, and at the end, we show a first practical example of DAX usage.

Chapter 4, is a theoretical chapter, covering the basics of data modeling and showing the different modeling options in a PowerPivot database. We describe several concepts that are not evident for Excel users, like normalization and denormalization, the structure of a SQL query, how relationships work and why they are so important, the structure of data marts, and data warehouses.

In Chapter 5, we cover the process of publishing workbooks to Microsoft SharePoint to do team BI. Moreover, we introduce the concept of PowerPivot for SharePoint being a server-side application that you can program and extend using Excel and PowerPivot.

Chapter 6, is dedicated to the many ways to load data inside PowerPivot. For each data source, we show the way it works and provide many hints and best practices for that specific source.

Chapter 7, and Chapter 8, are the theoretical core of the book. There, we introduce the concepts of evaluation contexts, relationships, and the CALCULATE function. These are the pillars of the DAX language, and you will need to master them before writing advanced data models with PowerPivot.

Chapter 9, shows how to create and manage hierarchies. It covers basic hierarchy handling, how to compute values over hierarchies, and finally, it shows how to manage parent/child hierarchies by using the concepts learned in Chapter 7 and Chapter 8.

Chapter 10, is dedicated to the new reporting tool in Excel 2013: Power View. There, we show the main feature of this tool, how to create simple Power View reports, and how to filter data and build reports that are pleasant to look at and provide useful insights in your data.

Chapter 11, covers several advanced topics regarding reporting. It includes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), how to write them, and how to use them to improve the quality of your reporting system. We also cover the Power View metadata layer in PowerPivot, drill-through, sets in Excel or in MDX, and perspectives.

Chapter 12, deals with time intelligence. Year to Date (YTD), Quarter to Date (QTD), Month to Date (MTD), working days versus non-working days, semiadditive measures, moving averages, and other complex calculations involving time are all topics covered here.

Chapter 13, is a collection of scenarios and solutions, all of which share the same background: they are hard to solve using Excel or in any other tool, whereas they are somewhat easier to manage in DAX, once you gain the necessary knowledge from the previous chapters in the book. All these examples come from real-world scenarios and are among the top requests we see when we do consultancy or look at forums on the web.

Chapter 14, is dedicated to using DAX as a query language (as you might guess). It covers the various functionalities of DAX when used to query a database. It also shows advanced functionalities, like reverse-linked and linked-back tables, which greatly enhance the capabilities of PowerPivot to build complex data models.

Chapter 15, discusses using Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to manage PowerPivot workbooks in a programmatic way, automating a few common tasks. We provide some code examples and show how to solve some of the common scenarios where VBA might be useful.

Chapter 16, compares the functionalities of the three flavors of PowerPivot technology: PowerPivot for Excel, PowerPivot for SharePoint, and SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS). The goal of this final chapter is to give you a clear picture of what can be done with PowerPivot for Excel, when you need to move a step further and adopt PowerPivot for SharePoint, and what extra features are available only in SSAS.

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