In this article, we will give a brief overview of Power View (code name “Crescent”) – what it is, the architecture and how it complements the Microsoft Business Intelligence tools stack. We also provide a few examples of reports. Power View is a new data visualization tool which allows users to interact with data.  It is a web browser-based end user Microsoft Business Intelligence tool. 

Power View is a completely Silverlight-based application launched from SharePoint 2010, and therefore does not require any client side installation. The core objective of Power View is to present the modeled data in a fun and meaningful way, using highly interactive visualizations, animations, smart querying and rich Storyboarding presentation capabilities (a feature that allows you to embed charts and graphs in PowerPoint and manipulate the live data during a presentation). You can forget all about complex concepts like dimensions, measures groups, etc. and focus just on the data, with simple tables, columns and measures. In a nutshell, “Let the data tell you the story of the business.”

To use Power View, you need to have SharePoint 2010 installed and configured, and SQL Server 2012 Reporting Services configured in SharePoint integrated mode. SharePoint 2010 SP1 is also recommended, as are some cumulative updates which add extra compatibility with Apple’s iPads and iPhones. Power View requires Silverlight 4. Here is an overview of the architecture underlying Power View

Figure 1 – Power View Architecture with SharePoint 2010

Figure 1 – Power View Architecture with SharePoint 2010

 

Power View is not intended to replace any of the SQL Server Reporting Services tools like the Report Designer in BIDS (Business Intelligence Development Studio) for Visual Studio, Report Builder or Performance Point Services in SharePoint.  These tools will continue to exist, with their respective enhancements, in SQL Server 2012. Report Designer and Report Builder are used to create powerful, data-rich static reports by power users and IT pros, for end users. Performance Point Services is used for creating Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Scorecards. Power View, on the other hand, is aimed at Presentation Ready for Ad-hoc Reporting, or Self-Service BI, optimized for design and online screen consumption and interactivity by End users, for End users. It is targeted at everyone, to enable them to create compelling, interactive and rich data visualizations out of the box based on PowerPivot workbooks and the brand new Business Intelligence Semantic Model (BISM). Because Power View uses only DAX language as the query language, it can only connect to BISM tabular models, either in SQL Server Analysis Services or PowerPivot Workbooks, which have a BISM Tabular model behind the scenes, as part of the new release of SQL Server 2012 (CTP3 and RC0). Microsoft understands that there is a need to remove this restriction in order to allow the existing multidimensional models to take advantage of Power View, so we hope that, in future releases of SQL Server, Power View can be used against BISM Multidimensional models.

You can connect to a PowerPivot model in SharePoint (which is a PowerPivot Excel Workbook published to SharePoint) or connect to a BISM Tabular model in Analysis Services (which is a Tabular data model published to Analysis Services server). You can also get data directly from the SQL Server, using the BISM Tabular pass-through mode named Direct Query.

With the introduction of Power View, the SharePoint Integration for Reporting Services is redefined. Reporting Services will now be configured and monitored like other SharePoint shared applications, enabling organizations to leverage existing SharePoint skills.  Data security, permissions, properties, table names, column names, and so on, are defined at the BISM Model inside the Analysis Services solution or PowerPivot workbook. Power View focuses only on data presentation and interaction.

Operating Systems and Browsers that support Power View

Operating-Systems-and-Browsers-that-support-Power-View

Note:

“32-bit” refers to the browser, not the operating system. You can use 32-bit Internet Explorer 9 on 64-bit Windows 7, for example.
On the next screen you will find an example of a Power View report featuring a number of visualizations, including tiles, cards, small multiples, a bubble chart, and a slicer:
 Figure-2-Power-view-designer-environment

You can see these main areas on the screen:

  1. Ribbon (giving you the Office 2010 user experience)
  2. Canvas (the data presentation area)
  3. Field List (the data selection area. The top half is from the underlying data model and the bottom highlights the selections made for a visualization)

Top features of Power View are:

Presentation-Ready – No previews or design modes. No ‘design time’ and ‘run time’. You are working with real data. You can browse your data and present it any time

Visual Design Experience – The canvas is where the user can play with the data. You can switch between different visualizations by a simple click on the respective visualization. For example, starting from a table you can switch to cards, tiles, bar charts or bubble charts to find the visualization that best illustrates your point.

Data Visualizations – You always start with a table. You select the fields and values and list them in a table. Once you have selected your data, you click a visualization type in the Visualizations gallery on the Table Tools Design tab. Depending on the data in your table, Power View enables and disables different visualization types to give you the best visualization for that data.
Based on Tabular Models – Power View is a thin web client which launches right in the browser from a tabular model in SharePoint 2010. As we said before, the tabular model can be a PowerPivot Excel Workbook or a SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services tabular model.  The tabular model is the bridge between back-end data sources and data presentation, which ensures that everything in the report just works together.
Filtering and Highlighting Data – Power View provides several ways of highlighting and filtering data. Because it is based on the metadata of the underlying model, it understands the data structure and relationships very well. You can use a visualization to filter and highlight data in other visualizations. Or, you can define explicit filters that will apply to all the visualizations in the report.
Performance – Power View provides a great performance experience as it only fetches the data rows that are visible on the canvas at any one time, irrespective of the underlying tables containing millions of rows. So let’s get started on creating some interactive data visualizations and seeing how we can begin with simple bar charts, and then switch to bubble charts to track data over time. For the purpose of this article, I have used the virtual labs available at SQL Server Virtual Labs.  Start the lab, log on to the virtual machine (you will see the instructions in the lab manual) and open Internet Explorer. The browser will launch the SharePoint 2010 Tailspin Toys Reporting site. Click on “Data Sources” in the left hand side menu and you will see a BISM connection “Tailspin Toys BISM” has already been created. Hover on the connection name, click on the drop-down menu and select “Create ‘Crescent’ Report”. The browser will open a Silverlight-based Power View designer, as shown previously in the article. From the field list, expand Product table and select Category. Then expand the Sales table and select “Sum Of Revenue”. You will see in the canvas that there is a table with the two selected columns. Everything in Power View starts with a table. You will also notice that the Card, Tiles, Column, Bar, Line and Scatter visualizations are enabled. Your screen should look like this:
Figure-3-A-Power-View-report-example

Keep the table selected, and click on the column Visualization inside the Design Tab. The table will be converted to a column chart as shown below:

Figure-4-Power-View-column-chart-1024x615

Click on the Table visualization inside the Design tab to go back to the table representation of data. Let’s add another column by clicking on the “Region Name” column from the Region table and select the Line Visualization. The data is now represented as a Line graph:

Figure-5-Power-View-line-graph

Let’s go back to the table, remove “Region Name” from the graph by unchecking the “Region Name” column from the Region table. Select Scatter Visualization from the Design tab. Add two more measures for the Y axis and the size of the bubble. Add the “Sum of Revenue” and “number of Products” columns. Expand the Date table and add the Year column, which will be automatically taken as the play axis of the scatter chart.

Figure-6-Power-View-Scatter-Chart-1024x619

Figure 6 Power View Scatter Chart

 

Just a few clicks have given you a playable report which shows the performance of Quantity Sold, Total Revenue and number of products by category over the years. Click on the “Play” icon on the bottom left hand side to see the report in action. As part of the RC0 (Release Candidate 0), there have been some very exciting Power View enhancements. The following is the list of new features:
  • Multiple Views in a single report – this feature allows the users to preview multiple views of a report.
  • Export to Microsoft PowerPoint – this feature allows the users a fully interactive report to be run from within PowerPoint.
  • PowerPivot Gallery Preview Images – this feature produces preview images in the PowerPivot Gallery, just like Excel workbooks.
  • Multiple View Navigation – this feature allows the users to navigate through multiple report views and select the one they want to display.
  • Sorting – this feature allows sorting on all data regions, and both single and multiple charts.
  • More Chart Features – more functionality, such as more than 20 series, multiple measures, color (series) in scatter and bubble charts and legend highlighting is added to the charts.
  • Chart Highlighting Enhancements – this feature has some major additions to the highlighting feature with charts.
  • Number formatting for Tables and Matrix – this feature supports number formatting on both tables and matrix.
  • Slicers Cross Filters Other Slicers – with multiple slicers in a view, if you select one slicer, the values on other slicers also get filtered.
  • Per Data Region Filtering – this feature allows filtering the entire report view or individual data regions in a view.
  • Measure Filters and Filter Restatement – this feature allows  support for measure filters and will also restate the users selected filters, even when the specific filter is in a collapsed state.
  • Search in filters – this feature allows you the search through the filters instead of just browsing through a long list.
  • Drag your data to the Canvas – this feature allows the users to drag fields directly to the canvas from the model explorer.
  • Print It – this feature allows the users the print the current (or selected) view.
  • Support for DirectQuery Mode – this feature allows connecting to tabular models in direct query mode.
  • Database Image Support – this feature supports database images stored directly in the model.
  • Show Items with No Data – this feature supports the ability to display items with no data.
  • Measures as Non-Measures – this feature supports the ability to treat measures as non-measures (i.e. as categories) by not summarizing on those fields.
  • All New Canvas Look – the reporting canvas has an overall enhanced look.

Here you can find some Power View RC0 screenshots:

Figure 7 Power View RC0 New Enhancements

Figure 7 Power View RC0 New Enhancements

Figure 8 Power View RC0 New Enhancements

Figure 8 Power View RC0 New Enhancements

If you want to see all of the abovementioned features in action, you can watch the updated demo of SQL Server 2012 RC0 Power View released by Microsoft BI team. ConclusionThisarticle has only touched on some of the features of Power View, in order to give you a brief overview and show you how easy it is to create a report that is highly interactive and provides the ability to explore and visualize your data. Imagine how valuable it will be to track price changes, revenue growth, stock market fluctuations and much more.