The new “Denali” PowerPivot has a lot of fanatic new additions that I’ve really been looking forward to. Many of my biggest complaints from the first version of the product have been addressed. One of these complaints was the lack of a visual representation of object relationships. You had to rely on the little window shown below (the Active column is new) to create and manage relationships.
In the latest version of PowerPivot you will now have the ability to view these relationships in a diagram view as shown below:
To change to the diagram view simply click the Diagram View button in the Office Ribbon or in the bottom right of the tool inside PowerPivot.
Now this may seem like a simple add but there’s a lot more that comes with the diagram view. For example notice that in my diagram screenshot that DimDate has 3 relationships to the Fact table. Yes, that’s right you can now use role playing dimensions inside PowerPivot, which was previously not possible. I’ll devote a future blog post to that topic because it’s actually fairly lengthy to describe (this is where the new Active column in the manage relationships window comes into play).
You can also create new and manage existing relationships in the diagram view with a drag and drop interface. By clicking and dragging your foreign key on top of the corresponding primary key the relationship will be created for you. A much nicer interface than the prior version of PowerPivot!
In the top left of the diagram you can filter the objects Columns, Measures, Hierarchies and KPIs. This makes it much easier to find object that you’ve built. Did I say hierarchies and KPIs? This is also new to PowerPivot that will require its own write up. In the top right you will find a navigation window, which will allow you to resize and move more freely through larger diagrams.
If you right-click on any of the tables from inside the Diagram View you will find a few more options exposed.
Some of these options are obvious what they do but some are new so I’ll detail them all:
- Delete – Deletes the object from the model
- Create Relationship – Defines a new relationship between objects (without drag and drop). You’ll generally select this option from the table that stores the foreign key.
- Create Hierarchy – Very exciting! You can now do hierarchies in PowerPivot. I’ll write details later on how this works but these are similar to user defined hierarchies that you may have built in Analysis Services. These are very simple to create and work great!
- Hide from Client Tools – Just hides the table from the PowerPivot Field List so users cannot use it.
- Go To – Opens up the traditional PowerPivot grid view of the data in the table you’ve selected.
- Rename – Renames the table.
- Maximize – This is a nice usability feature that enlarges the table to a near full screen view, making it easier to manipulate. Below is what the maximize view looks like this:
I love this change I think it helps a lot as far as the usability of managing relationships but it’s also opened the door for new functionality like hierarchies.