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Technical Accomplishments and Happy Memories (T-SQL Tuesday #112)

Technical Accomplishments and Happy Memories (T-SQL Tuesday #112)

The March 2019 edition of T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Shane O’Neill (@SOZDBA). This month, Shane wants us to share our cookies. Wait… what? Yes! Cookies :) In this analogy, cookies are accomplishments or memories you can look back on when things get tough. Something that will give you an energy kick to keep you going when you think you’re completely done.

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this since the topic was announced. My cookie jar definitely consists of two types of cookies: technical and non-technical. There are more of the latter, which I believe is a good thing :)

In this post, I’ll highlight some of the technical accomplishments I’m proud of, and share some of my happy memories that always make me smile. (I mean pictures. I will share lots and lots of pictures.)

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Why I’m a Business Intelligence Consultant (T-SQL Tuesday #111)

T-SQL Tuesday #111: Why I'm a Business Intelligence Consultant

This month’s T-SQL Tuesday is hosted by Andy Leonard (@AndyLeonard). Andy wants to know what is our “why”, or why we do what we do. Before I can answer the why, I will briefly explain the what :) I work as a Business Intelligence consultant, focusing on Data Warehousing, Data Integration, and Data Visualization.

The short answer to “why?” is because the work is both challenging and rewarding. As a Business Intelligence consultant, I get to use all my skills from programming to design. I get to satisfy my instinctive need to group, organize, and sort things when working with data. Then I get to make things shiny and pretty. Finally, I get to work with other people, learn about their industries, and help them do their jobs better.

The long answer is… longer :) I absolutely love my job now, but I ended up in the world of data completely accidentally. I’ve gone from Web Development to Graphic Design to Interactive Design to Java Programming to SharePoint Development to Data Warehouse Architecture to Community Evangelizing… And now I’m here :) (Phew!) So why am I a Business Intelligence consultant?

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How to find a Dataset ID in Power BI

Find Power BI Dataset ID

Today, I had to get a single dataset ID from a report I had deployed to the Power BI Service. I quickly realized I had no idea where or how to get it! Turns out, it’s super easy to find – if you know where to look :)

Since I had to click around for a bit, do some searches, and get sidetracked in the REST APIs and PowerShell Cmdlets before I finally realized the ID was staring me right in the face all along, I figured I’d share this quick tip. That way, the next time I search for it, I might find my own blog post :D And who knows, maybe it can help one or two others?

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Video: Azure Data Factory Data Flows Introduction

Video: Azure Data Factory Data Flows Introduction

In January 2019, I was honored to be asked to contribute to the PASS Insights BI Edition Newsletter. I said yes, of course! :) I chose to create an Azure Data Factory Data Flows introduction video. This is a sneak preview of the upcoming Data Flows feature, with a quick walkthrough of how easy it can be to create scalable data transformations in the cloud – without writing any code!

Please note: As of January 2019, when I recorded this video and published this blog post, Azure Data Factory Data Flows is still in preview. Features will be added and things will get changed, just like all the other Azure products. But! Hopefully this shows what you can look forward to.

At the end of this blog post, I have tried to answer some frequently asked questions about Azure Data Factory Data Flows.

Video: Data Flows Introduction

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Generating SQL using Biml (T-SQL Tuesday #110)

T-SQL Tuesday #110: Generating SQL using Biml

The first T-SQL Tuesday of 2019 is hosted by Garry Bargsley (@gbargsley), and the topic is “Automate All the Things“. Garry wants to know what this phrase means to each of us. What do we want to automate? What is our go-to technology for automation? To me, this was super easy. Surprise, surprise! It’s Biml, of course :) Since this post is part of T-SQL Tuesday, I wanted to go back to the basics and write about how you can generate SQL using Biml. But first, a little bit of background for those who are not that familiar with Biml.

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Custom Power BI Themes: Page Background Images

Cathrine Wilhelmsen Creating Custom Power BI Themes

In a previous blog post, we looked at how to change the background colors of Power BI reports. In this blog post, we will take it one step further and look at how to add background images to Power BI reports using custom themes. Fancy!

In Power BI Desktop, it is easy to add background images. In the Visualizations pane, on the Format tab, under Wallpaper / Page Background, just click the Add Image button. Choose your image, adjust the Image Fit as necessary, and tadaaa! You are done!

Custom Power BI Themes: Page Background Menu - Add Image

Using a custom JSON theme file is… well, not quite as easy. (At least not yet.) But why not?

When you click Add Image in Power BI Desktop, you basically upload a copy of the image to the .pbix file. Even if you rename or delete the local image file, the copy will continue to live in the .pbix file until you choose to remove it. This means you only have one single .pbix file to think about, which makes sharing and publishing reports super easy.

However, when you switch to a custom JSON theme file, you don’t go through the same “upload a copy” process. Referencing an image that doesn’t exist in the .pbix file is just not going to work. So what do we do?

We find a workaround! :)

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Custom Power BI Themes: Page Background Colors

Custom Power BI Themes: Background Colors

In a previous blog post, we looked at how to get started with custom Power BI themes. We created a custom color palette and defined the basic JSON theme file. In this blog post, we will look at how to change the background colors of Power BI reports.

There are two types of backgrounds in Power BI reports. The first is the Page Background, which is the background of the report itself. The second is the Wallpaper, which is the outer color surrounding the report.

Original Report

To keep things simple and consistent in my posts, I will use the Power BI sample reports by Microsoft and obviEnce. This way, I can test my themes on existing reports with several different visualizations.

(And, uh, I prefer to use existing sample reports because I tend to get hung up on details. If I work with my own reports, I will most likely get distracted building new visualizations or moving things around. So! Sample reports it is.)

In this post, I will use the Human Resources sample. The page Actives and Separations looks like this:

Custom Power BI Themes: Page Background Colors - Original

The Page Background is white, while the Wallpaper (showing as bars on the top and bottom) is gray.

Let’s change some colors!

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Creating a SQL Server 2019 Demo Environment in a Docker Container

Creating a SQL Server 2019 Demo Environment in a Docker Container

About a month ago, I learned something new. I learned how to run SQL Server 2019 in Docker and how to set up my demo environment in a container. Cool stuff! I like whales. Whales are cool.

While learning, I started writing this blog post. Then I got distracted and never finished it. This weekend, I had to set up my demo environment again. It was the perfect opportunity to update the content and finally publish this post.

(Why did I have to set up everything again? Oh, it’s a long story that involves disk cleanup and a Cathrine who likes to delete things to keep her computer tidy. Ok, it’s not really a long story. It was more like “oops, I accidentally deleted my container”.)

Anyway! Back to the actual content.

In this post, I share my approach and code snippets for:

  1. Installing Docker
  2. Getting SQL Server 2019
  3. Running SQL Server 2019 in a Docker Container
  4. Restoring Demo Databases (AdventureWorks and WideWorldImporters)

Installing Docker

I knew nothing about Docker or containers a month ago. But! I’m lucky to have smart friends :) Andrew Pruski (@dbafromthecold) wrote Running SQL Server 2019 CTP in a Docker container as part of his brilliant blog post series on containers.

I decided to start with his walkthrough and do exactly what he did. It worked pretty well for me! See below :)

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Custom Power BI Themes: Getting Started

Cathrine Wilhelmsen creating custom Power BI themes

Power BI comes with several built-in themes and a whole gallery full of custom themes available for download. But what if you still can’t find the perfect look for your reports? No problem! Just create your own custom Power BI themes :)

…sounds simple enough, right? It only takes a few minutes to create a custom Power BI theme with a color palette of your choice. Whoosh – instant custom branding!

But if you are like me, simple color changes might not be enough. Maybe you want finer control of borders, fonts, labels, or other visual elements. Or maybe you just don’t want to keep changing the same settings over and over and over again in multiple visualizations and reports. (Please don’t do that.)

You can control all of these things in custom Power BI themes. It is, however, not quite as simple as creating a color palette… yet. (You never know when the Power BI product team will blow your mind with a new update!) But for now, we need to define custom themes in JSON files.

(Does the thought of writing JSON make you go “eww” or “ugh“? Don’t worry! Just head on over to the Report Theme Generator instead and let it do the work for you. It is a fantastic resource!)

Learning with Cathrine

Since I have an awful memory and can barely remember what I did last month, I will be blogging while learning how to create my own custom Power BI themes. That means that all posts and examples may change at any time. And I’m sure they will, every time I learn something new.

My posts will be more like journal entries than technical references, but my goal is to create a series of cheat sheets for myself that I can reference later. Maybe you can learn something as well? :)

In this post, I will focus on the basics and share some resources to help you get started. I will first create my color palette, then define the basic JSON theme file that I will continue to build on in later blog posts.

Ok. Let’s go! :)

Picking Colors

Cathrine Wilhelmsen Creating Custom Color Palette

First, make sure you read Meagan Longoria’s excellent post Choosing a Color Palette for Your Power BI Report. She explains what to consider when choosing colors, why you want to choose certain colors over others, and how to check if your color palette is accessible.

Then, find a color picker or color palette tool that works for you. There are many free apps available, so you may have to try a few different ones. My favorites are:

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Interview about Azure Data Factory Updates

Last year at Microsoft Ignite, I was fortunate enough to interview Mike Flasko and Sanjay Krishnamurthi. This year, I got to have a follow-up chat with Mike Flasko and Sharon Lo! We talked about the recent and upcoming Azure Data Factory updates :)

In this interview, Mike and Sharon share the highlights from their session at Microsoft Ignite 2018. What are visual Data Flows? How are Azure Data Factory Data Flows different from the recently announced Power BI Dataflows? What’s on the Azure Data Factory roadmap? And finally, how can you provide feedback and get involved in private previews?

Azure Data Factory Updates with Mike Flasko and Sharon Lo

(I apologize for the unsteady video :( Unfortunately, I didn’t see how shaky it was until post-production. If it gets too distracting to watch, please just listen. Mike and Sharon share a lot of interesting things :) )

Thank you so much to Mike and Sharon for chatting with me on a busy day!

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