Power BI Q&A Preview Now Live On Your Data

With the recent updates to the Power BI preview and Q&A features added I thought I would do a quick tutorial of how it all works.  This post will walk you through uploading a workbook to Power BI, Using Q&A against that workbook, enhancing the workbook with synonyms and the creating features questions.

First, sign up for a trial at www.PowerBI.com.  Once your trial Power BI site has been issued to you login and add your own Power Pivot workbook by selecting Add as shown below.

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After you add your own workbook click the context menu and select Add to Q&A.

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Next select Search with Power BI Q&A in the top right corner of the site.

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This will present you with an empty textbox that is waiting for you to ask a question of your data.  Earlier when I added my own workbook I added a workbook that has presidential election data in it.  So I ask a question about the “Total popular votes by state”. 

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With this small amount of information I provide Q&A realizes I’m asking for the Total Popular Vote metric from my Power Pivot model and that I want to see this information by state, which is also in my Power Pivot model. 

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A couple other interesting things are presented here.  In the top right there are some hints on getting better search results for this workbook.  If you follow the help link there is some guidance on adding synonyms to your Power Pivot model:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel-help/add-synonyms-to-a-power-pivot-excel-data-model-HA104143188.aspx?redir=0

I wrote briefly about synonyms being added to Power Pivot as well here.  Adding synonyms will allow my users to have more flexibility when interacting with Q&A.  Currently without synonyms in my model I must ask very specific question that reference column names exactly how they appear in my Power Pivot model. 

However, with synonyms added to my model I could add other variations of how users may ask my question of “Total popular votes by state”. 

Below I’ve added a synonym to my model on to Total Popular Vote metric.  Synonyms are entered with a comma separated list so I’ve added “votes” as a synonym for Total Popular Vote.

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After publishing this workbook back to the Power BI site I can now ask the question more like an end user would.  This time I ask for “votes by state” and get the same results as expected.  This shows how you will start designing your Power Pivot models that you plan on publishing within Q&A.

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The last nice new feature that is available in the Power BI Q&A preview is featured questions.  Featured questions are inquires that you would like to highlight on the Power BI site as common questions users ask.  These were in the preview before but you could not create your own. 

To create a featured question you simply click add featured question on the side pane or before you even ask a question click the plus icon (both shown below).

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Once you select one of these two options you enter the question and create an icon.  The icon can be small or large, a variety of colors, and with a symbol or even a background image.

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Here’s an example of a featured question I created for this election data model.

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I really love these new features and I think you will too so go try them out now at www.PowerBI.com.

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4 Responses

  1. […] The first thing to point out is that even if you’ve got a Power BI Preview tenant you will need the latest version of Power Pivot for Excel to be able to get the best out of Q&A. This latest release contains some new functionality to add ‘Synonyms’ to the model – what this means is that it allows you, as a model creator, to tell Power BI about other names that end users might use when querying your model. For example on a Geography dimension you might have a column called State but if you are a multinational company you may find that while your State column contains the names of states in the USA, it might contain the names of cantons in Switzerland, counties in the UK, departments in France and so on. As a result you will want Power BI to know that if a user asks for sales by county in the UK that it should actually look in the State column. Devin Knight has already written a good post showing how synonyms work with Q&A which you can see here. […]

  2. […] The first thing to point out is that even if you’ve got a Power BI Preview tenant you will need the latest version of Power Pivot for Excel to be able to get the best out of Q&A. This latest release contains some new functionality to add ‘Synonyms’ to the model – what this means is that it allows you, as a model creator, to tell Power BI about other names that end users might use when querying your model. For example on a Geography dimension you might have a column called State but if you are a multinational company you may find that while your State column contains the names of states in the USA, it might contain the names of cantons in Switzerland, counties in the UK, departments in France and so on. As a result you will want Power BI to know that if a user asks for sales by county in the UK that it should actually look in the State column. Devin Knight has already written a good post showing how synonyms work with Q&A which you can see here. […]

  3. […] Power BI Q&A Preview Now Live On Your Data […]

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