Session resources: Power BI dataflows and Azure Data Lake integration

Last week I delivered two online sessions on the topic of integrating Power BI dataflows with an organizational Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 storage account. I’ve blogged on this topic before (link | link | link | link) but sometimes a presentation and demo is worth a thousand words.

On April 30th I delivered a “Power BI dataflows 201 – beyond the basics” session for the PASS Business Intelligence Virtual Chapter. The session recording is online here, and you can download the slides here.

On May 4th I delivered a “Integrating Power BI and Azure Data Lake with dataflows and CDM Folders” session for the SQL Saturday community event in Stockholm, Sweden. I was originally planning to deliver the Stockholm session in person, but due to circumstances beyond my control[1] I ended up presenting remotely, which meant that I could more easily record the session. The session recording is online here, and you can download the slides here.

Each of these sessions covers much of the same material. The Stockholm presentation got off to a bit rocky start[2] but it gets smoother after the first few minutes.

Please feel free to use these slides for your own presentations if they’re useful. And please let me know if you have any questions!

[1] I forgot to book flights. Seriously, I thought I had booked flights in February when I committed to speaking, and by the time I realized that I had not booked them, they were way out of my budget. This was not my finest hour.

[2] The presentation was scheduled to start at 6:00 AM, so I got up at 4:00 and came into the office to review and prepare. Instead I spent the 90 minutes before the session start time fighting with PC issues and got everything working less than a minute before 6:00. I can’t remember ever coming in quite this hot…

General availability of Power BI dataflows

Power BI dataflows have been available in public preview since November 2018. For almost five months, customers around the world have been kicking the tires, testing and providing feedback, and building production capabilities using dataflows.

When Microsoft published the latest Business Applications Release Notes, the “new and planned features” list included dataflows general availability with a target date of April 2019, which could typically mean anything before May 1st.

But… April has just arrived, and so has the dataflows GA!

The full details are on the official Power BI blog, so be sure to check it out. Also keep in mind that although dataflows are now generally available, some specific capabilities are still in preview.


Free Data Modeling Course

In any industry there is a small set of luminaries – people who everyone knows by name and by reputation. They’ve been around for years and decades. They started off doing amazing work, and they’ve only gotten better over time.

In the world of Microsoft business intelligence, Marco Russo and Alberto Ferrari are two of these luminaries[1]. I’ve been doing this data thing for a while now, and they know more about data and BI than I will ever forget. Or something like that.

In any event, they have just released a free introductory data modeling course, and you should complete it. I know I will.

For context, there are three big reasons why I’m going to complete an online introductory data modeling course even though I’ve been working as a data professional for over 20 years:

  1. Marco and Alberto are experienced trainers and presenters who know how to communicate complex topics in ways that make them easy to understand and apply. Even if I know a given topic already, I will learn details I did not previously know, or will learn new ways to think about the topic.
  2. There’s a lot I need to learn. My background heavily emphasizes ETL and data warehousing, which was a fine place to specialize when I was part of a multi-disciplinary team and someone else was responsible for the analytics model. When working in Power BI as a self-service user, I frequently run into gaps in my knowledge. Although I know where to look to find answers, focusing on proactive learning will make me more efficient every day I work in Power BI.
  3. Data modeling is a topic of vital importance for enterprise Power BI customers. In my day job[2] I see lots of problems that would not have existed if people had started with a well designed data model.
  4. I’m not getting any younger, so if I’m ever going to start a modeling career, it had better be soon.

I hope you’ll take advantage of Marco and Alberto’s generous offer and complete this course. When you do, let me know what you think.

[1] They are not, as the post title and their names might suggest, elite fashion designers.

[2] Although the dataflows-centric subject matter of this blog may lead you to believe otherwise, most of what I do on a daily basis is help large customers succeed with Power BI… I blog about dataflows just because I love them so much.

My slides from SQL Saturday Victoria

Last weekend I had the pleasure of presenting at SQL Saturday in Victoria, BC. I delivered an introductory session on Power BI dataflows, and included an unplanned impromptu musical[1] performance.

This week at the Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond I have been talking to a lot of MVPs and I realized that I had yet to make any of my presentation resources available. The slide deck below (click on the image or the link below it) is my standard dataflows slide deck, with the SQL Saturday template applied.

Slide deck

SQLSatVictoria – Introduction to Power BI Dataflows

This deck includes more content than is appropriate for a single session, but it has resources that you can use if you want to present on dataflows at a conference or user group meeting. Please feel free to take what’s there and to use the parts that are valuable. Please also feel free to ping me on Twitter if you have any questions or feedback on the content or the content flow.

If you have any critical feedback to share related to my musical performance, please include a link to your Power BI themed sings as reference.

[1] For a given value of “musical”.

Upcoming Dataflows Presentations

I’m not dead!

After having a prolific first few months with this blog, the year-end holidays disrupted my routine, and I’ve been struggling to get everything balanced again. 2019 has been great so far, but its also been stupid crazy busy, and while blogging has been on my backlog, it just hasn’t made the bar for implementation.

Until now, I guess…

Last week I was in Darmstadt, Germany for the SQL Server Konferenz 2019 event, where I presented on Power BI dataflows. My session was well-attended and well-received[1] but I realized that I’d never actually told anyone about it. Now it’s time to correct this oversight for some upcoming events. These are the public events where I’ll be speaking over the next few months:

Event: SQL Saturday #826

Location: Victoria, BC, Canada

Date: March 16, 2019

Session: Introduction to Power BI dataflows

Event: Intelligent Cloud Conference

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Date: April 9, 2019

Session: Integrating Power BI and Azure Data Lake with dataflows and CDM Folders

Pro tip: If you’re attending Intelligent Cloud, be sure to attend Wolfgang Strasser‘s “Let your data flow” session earlier in the day. This session will provide a great introduction to Power BI dataflows and will provide the prerequisite knowledge necessary to get the most out of my session.

Event: SQL Saturday #851

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Date: May 4, 2019

Session: Hopefully two dataflows sessions[2], details still being ironed out.


[1] Except for that one guy who rated the session a 2. I’d love to know what I could have done to improve the presentation and demos

[2] Also, swords.

Dataflows, or Data Flows?

I don’t hear this question as often as I used to[1], but I still hear it: What’s the difference between dataflows in Power BI and Data Flows in Azure Data Factory?

I’ve already written extensively on the Power BI side of things, and now the awesome Merrill Aldrich from BlueGranite has published an excellent overview of the ADF feature on the BlueGranite blog. You should check it out here:

I’m not going to summarize the similarities and differences in this post, but after you’ve read Merrill’s article, I’d love to hear your specific questions.

[1] This may or may not be because I’ve been on vacation for the past three weeks.

Recipe: Spicy Cheese Sauce

I’m on vacation for the holidays, and plan to spend much of the next few weeks in the kitchen. This will result in more posts about food and fewer posts about Power BI. You’ve been warned.

This is my favorite cheese sauce. The recipe is adapted from one originally published by Modernist Cuisine, and made much better by the application of chilies.

Please note that the recipe uses proportions by weight, rather than specific amounts. You can easily scale the recipe up or down so long as the proportion is the same, but you will need an accurate kitchen scale for this one.


  • 100% extra sharp orange cheddar cheese
  • 100% jalapeno juice
  • 4% sodium citrate


  • Juice 10-50 jalapeno chili peppers and weigh the juice.
  • Grate an equal weight of cheddar cheese.
  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the juice and sodium citrate and bring to a boil.
  • Gradually add grated cheddar to the liquid, blending with an immersion blender to incorporate each batch of cheese before adding more.
  • That’s it. It doesn’t get much simpler than this.


Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.


  • Dip tortilla chips into the cheese sauce and eat them. Eat all of them!!
  • Use on nachos.
  • Use on chili cheese fries, with homemade french fries and green chili sauce from El Patio De Albuquerque.


  • If you really love spicy food, you may be tempted to use habaneros or another spicier chili to start with. Don’t do that. Start with jalapenos and scale the heat up as appropriate by adding a few spicier chilies to the mix. Trust me on this one.
  • Alternately you can scale down the heat by replacing some of the liquid with water. Do what is right for you.
  • So long as you keep the same proportions, you can use any liquid and any cheese you want. The possibilities are limitless.
  • You can also use jalapeno juice in other recipes where you want to add flavor and heat. My other favorite application is in yeast breads, where you can replace the water with chili juice. I’ve made this recipe multiple times with great results using this technique.