M · Power BI · Power Query · Processing · Refresh

Simulating Slow Data Sources In Power BI

As a postscript to my series on Power BI refresh timeouts (see part 1, part 2 and part 3) I thought it would be useful to document how I was able to simulate a slow data source in Power BI without using large data volumes or deliberately complex M code.

It’s relatively easy to create an M query that returns a table of data after a given delay. For example, this query returns a table with one column and one row after one hour and ten minutes:

  Source = Function.InvokeAfter(
    () => #table({"A"}, {{1}}), 
    #duration(0, 1, 10, 0)

Some notes:

  • I’m using #table to return the table without having to connect to a data source. More details on how to use #table can be found here.
  • The delay is achieved using the Function.InvokeAfter M function, with the amount of time to wait for specified using #duration

A more interesting problem is how to create an M query that, instead of waiting for a given duration and then returning a table immediately, returns the rows of a table one at a time with a delay between each row. Here’s a query that does that, returning ten rows one second at a time:

  NumberOfRows = 10,
  DaysToWait = 0,
  HoursToWait = 0,
  MinutesToWait = 0,
  SecondsToWait = 1,
  Source = #table(
      {1 .. NumberOfRows},
      each Function.InvokeAfter(
        () => {1},

Last of all, to simulate a slow SQL Server data source – not being much good at TSQL at all – I borrowed some code from this thread on Stack Overflow to create a function that returns a scalar value after a specified number of seconds:

CREATE FUNCTION [dbo].[ForceDelay](@seconds int) returns int as 
BEGIN DECLARE @endTime datetime2(0) = DATEADD(SECOND, @seconds, GETDATE()); 
WHILE (GETDATE() < @endTime ) 
SET @endTime = @endTime;
return 1;

I showed how to call this function from Power Query using a native SQL query here.

2 thoughts on “Simulating Slow Data Sources In Power BI

  1. @Chris – Don’t need to do anything to emulate “slow” in Power Query – It slooooooooooow by default – thanks to M’s streaming semantics – So Just rename a step and watch the wheel spin 😉

    Hoping to get a manual mode during query edits in the coming year

    Advance New year and Xmas wishes to you – thanks for all the great posts during the year


Leave a ReplyCancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.