http://www.sqlservercentral.com/blogs/dknight/2013/08/28/introduction-to-power-query-qa/

Printed 2014/08/29 04:57PM

Introduction to Power Query Q&A

By Devin Knight, 2013/08/28

Thanks everyone for attending my free webinar on Introduction to Power Query on August, 27, 2013.  If you were not able join for the live event you can now watch the recording here. This was part of an ongoing webinar series by Pragmatic Works offers every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 AM EST.

In this webinar we showed several examples of how Power Query can be used as an effective Self-Service ETL tool.  I discussed that enterprise level ETL tools like SSIS are not going anywhere, but that Power Query can be used in conjunction with enterprise Data Warehouse solutions or for quick Ad-hoc extraction problems.

I’ve started to write follow up posts to these webinars because we always get great questions but there’s no way I could answer them all during the time allotted.  Here’s some of the questions I wasn’t able to get to and answers for them.

Q: What type of language is this Power Query and where can we learn from ?

It’s informally referred to as ‘M’.  There are several great resources here that you can start with. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel-help/learn-about-data-explorer-formulas-HA104003958.aspx

Q: What happens if the EXCEL file link that was available for download is removed from the site (explore.data.gov)? Would our queries and functions fail or does it just not get updated info?

After the data is imported into Excel it then lives in Excel as static values, unless you manually refresh it.  So you can continue to use the data that you previously imported.  If you then hit refresh after the website is down then the queries would fail.

Q: Can you export a list of the steps created during an ETL process?

No, unfortunately I’m not aware of a way of doing this yet.

Q: How can you change the join type when merging tables?  for example to a full outer join?

Right now it’s basically doing a LEFT OUTER JOIN.  At this point the tool does not allow you to change this but I would anticipate improvements on this over time.

Q: How to add power query to ms office 2010

Power Query is available for Excel 2010 if you download it from the following link.

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=39379

Other than the Add to Data Model button it should work basically the same that I showed today in Excel 2013.

Q: How to load excel files data into datamart without using SSIS?

So what I showed today does not to the more enterprise level features that SSIS does like loading a data warehouse.  Power Query takes data out of a source and brings it into Excel/Power Pivot only.  This is where it makes sense that tools like SSIS are not going away.  SSIS can handle things like dimension and fact table loads and then schedule these to refresh on a regular basis.

Q: Is there a way to have Power Query auto refresh the data like PowerPivot can be setup to autorefresh in Sharepoint?

Variations of this question appeared multiple times.  As of right now there is not a native way to auto refresh Power Query.  There are some methods of doing this now through things like macros or Matt Masson shows an example here.http://www.mattmasson.com/2013/04/using-data-explorer-with-ssis/

My guess (take that for what it is worth) is that SharePoint will be part of the puzzle for scheduling Power Query data refreshes.

Q: Can you import data from power query into a different BI tool to do analysis?

Yes you can do this.  You can very easily get this into Power Pivot through methods shown during the webinar.  If that’s not what you’re looking for then keep in mind that the data lives in Excel so if the other data sources accept Excel as a data source then yes it would work.

There were lots of questions about the examples I showed.  If you would like to reconstruct my examples here are the websites I used.. 

https://explore.data.gov/ 
http://gapminder.org/ 
http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/download_data.html

Again, thanks for joining me for the webinar and hope to see you in a future one!


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