Random Thoughts · Technitrain

Thirteenth Blog Birthday

Every year, on the anniversary of the first-ever post on this blog, I write a post summarising my thoughts on what’s happening in the world of Microsoft BI and what I’m up to professionally. Here I am thirteen years and 1232 posts on from where I started…

First of all, an announcement. For several years now I’ve owned and operated two companies: Crossjoin Consulting, which I use for my own SSAS and Power BI consultancy and private training activities, and from which I make most of my income; and the much smaller Technitrain, which I use for running public training courses in London taught by me and various other notable SQL Server and Microsoft BI trainers. After some deliberation I’ve decided to shut down Technitrain, stop running public courses taught by other people, and focus completely on delivering my own consultancy and training through Crossjoin. There are various reasons for doing this but mostly it’s because organising and marketing public courses is very time-consuming and I’d like to free up that time for other purposes. There’s one final public Power BI course on the Technitrain site and after that all public courses that I teach will appear on the Crossjoin site. I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has taught for Technitrain or who has attended a course over the years.

What do I want to do with the time this frees up? There’s so much Power BI work out there I don’t think I’ll have any trouble keeping myself busy, but I’d really like to build more Power BI custom data connectors. I’ve built a few already for my customers and published another one I built for fun here; when this functionality comes out of preview (which should be soon I hope) and gets added to SSAS and Excel I think there will be a lot of SaaS providers who will want custom data connectors built for their platforms.

One other side-effect of this change is that I have changed my Twitter username to @cwebb_bi. If you already follow me on Twitter then you won’t need to do anything except remember to use the new username when you mention or DM me. If you don’t already follow me, please do so!

Thinking about Microsoft BI as a whole, it’s been another massively successful year for Power BI. Its popularity has now extended beyond small/medium businesses attracted by the price and dyed-in-the-wool Microsoft shops and I have seen several cases where it has replaced Tableau and Qlik based on its features alone. Another few years of this kind of growth and Microsoft will have the kind of domination in BI that it has enjoyed with Windows and Office.

I’ve also been pleased to see how Azure Analysis Services has grown this year too. I particularly like how the dev team have focussed on adding new features that take advantage of the cloud to solve problems easily that are much harder to solve on-premises – the new auto scale-out feature is a great example of this. It will be interesting to see if we get a Multidimensional version of Azure Analysis Services in 2018 – if we do it will be a vote of confidence in a platform whose users are wondering whether it will every see any investment ever again.

Finally, thinking about my other great enthusiasm – Power Query – it seems like things have gone a bit quiet recently. Apart from custom data connectors there hasn’t been much in the way of new functionality added in 2017. I suppose it’s a mature platform now and to be honest I struggle to think how it could be improved; parameters need some work for sure and there are a lot of people complaining about performance in Excel, which can be awful if you’re working with lots of complex queries. Maybe also the web-based interface seen in the CDS preview will appear in other places?

Anyway, time to sign off and get back to enjoying a few more days of holiday before work starts again. Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great 2018!

PS For those of you looking for video training on Power BI, DAX, SSAS and MDX you can get 12% off all subscriptions at Project Botticelli by clicking here and using the discount code CHRIS12BYE2017

6 thoughts on “Thirteenth Blog Birthday

  1. Hi Chris! I Just wanted to stop by and wish you, and the reads of your blog, an happy 2018. Also would like to point out a possible improvement for power query for Excel: As we know, at the time, is not possible to query data that resides in password protected websites. In my current job, i have to extract monthly data from this kind of source (and for this i have a VBA script doing the job for us, although i reckon that some code in could be best suited for the task, but i don’t have the knowledge or the tools to do it) and i thought it would be great to add this kind of functionality to Power Query – perhaps Custom Data Connectors would help on this matter? Also would like to point out, that i would like to see some optimization in the way that the Power Query engine generates SQL queries to retrieve data from SQL SERVER data sources in order to make the “Query Folding” concept more usable. I have several ETL processes suffering from the “Not folding” condition due to this issue and i believe some many other users might also experience this at the current time. To finish my comment (witch is too much long already) I would like to say, that the performance problems that Power Query suffers, have not only to do with the “Not folding” issue but also when you work with large excel data files that need many, and i really mean many, transformations till the data become in a usable format. Cheers 🙂

  2. Thanks for the well written summary. For relative newbies like me, it is helpful to see things summed up by a veteran in the field. I wish you the best in consolidating your work into Crossjoin. And even though I was never fortunate enough to sttend a class at Technitrain, thanks for your contributions to the community through that endeavor. Wishing you a fabulous 2018!

  3. Matt Allington – Sydney Australia – I am a full time self service Business Intelligence trainer and consultant specialising in Microsoft Power BI, Power Query, and Power Pivot for Excel
    Matt Allington says:

    Wow Chris, almost 100 blogs per year over 13 years – that is a great contribution to the community. I have learnt a lot from your articles (although many are too technical for my non-IT trained brain). Thanks for your contributions.

      1. Chris Webb – My name is Chris Webb, and I work on the Fabric CAT team at Microsoft. I blog about Power BI, Power Query, SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services and Excel.
        Chris Webb says:

        I’ve slowed down to one a week for the last few years; I’d like to think the quality of my posts has improved though.

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