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The Future of SharePoint is almost here!

The Future of SharePoint is almost here!


FoSEvent banner

Good morning from 34k feet somewhere over New Mexico! I am currently flying out to San Francisco to take part in the Future of SharePoint event tomorrow. I have been lucky enough to have spent time out in Redmond over the past few weeks and have had a chance to see some of what Jeff Teper and the SharePoint Team are going to share with us tomorrow and I can tell you that it is some game changing, super exciting stuff

If you haven’t already registered for the Live Stream you should stop reading and do it right now…  I will wait…

Now that you’ve done that we can continue Smile

If you aren’t able to stream the feed for some reason or just want to an up to the second view into what I am thinking about the event, my colleagues Todd Klindt, Randy Drisgill, and John Ross will also be Live Blogging the event on the Rackspace SharePoint site at You can download a calendar reminder for this here.

Want to keep up with what is trending on Twitter around the event? Check out the Twitter Analytics Power BI dashboard that Dave Feldman, John White & I put together below.

Last night as we were playing with our Twitter Analytics I saw someone tweet the question: “Can the future of SharePoint really live up to all the hype?”. I am hopeful & optimistic for the first time in quite a while that it can, however only time will tell. I for one am betting heavily that it will as I have chosen to tie my career to SharePoint & Office 365. From everything that I have seen from Microsoft recently they are doing 3 things very right in my opinion:

1.) They are listening. Whether it is via User Voice, direct interactions with them, or the telemetry that they are using coming from the service they are listening to what we are telling them with our words and our actions.

2.) They are getting fresh blood into the right seats on the bus and keeping the world moving forward.

3.) They are investing in innovation. This is something that they had stopped for a while, but they are back with a vengeance.  There is nothing more exciting in the tech world to me than innovation.

I am excited to see what they have to say tomorrow and I hope you are too. May the 4th be with you!

Microsoft Flow and Power BI make awesome bedfellows

Microsoft Flow and Power BI make awesome bedfellows

On Friday April 29th Microsoft release the preview of its latest toy, Microsoft Flow. Flow is similar to Zapier & IFTTT in that it connects to online services and takes actions based upon trigger events. During the demo to a group of Microsoft MVPs we saw some interesting ways to utilize Flows, but I couldn’t wait to get my hands into it to build some fun Power BI visualizations against more easily accessible data. Saturday morning I built out a simple Flow that took data from Twitter and added it to a SharePoint Online list.

From this I was able to create a Power BI report that visualized Tweets by count of Tweet and demonstrated individual tweets vs re-tweets. The data was drillable to the text level. I gave John White a call because I thought I had finally created something that we could geek out on before he got to it! Amazingly enough I had and within minutes we were adding refinements and enhancements, giddy as school girls.

The core issue that I was facing with my Report and methodology was that SharePoint lists are not best suited for contain the amount of data that we are likely to see this week with the Future of SharePoint event on Wednesday, let alone a month or year’s worth of twitter data. After we talked my Report had become a very slick visualization (embedded below).

John & I agreed that we needed more geek out time and decided to meet back up later in the evening. I started getting texts an hour before our meet up time with links to what John had built in the previous hour. An Azure SQL Database to house the twitter information, 5 new flows to capture specific Twitter data, and a Dashboard backed report that is slicker than Canadian Goose poo.

We knew that we had to share this new cool stuff with the community, but didn’t think we had the cycles to write the hundreds of pages of content we needed to get the point across. Then we remembered that we have Camtasia licenses thanks to TechSmith‘s generous Microsoft MVP offer.

John & I spent the next hour recording a 3 part series that you can find on the BIFocal YouTube Channel or simply click on the links below. We take you through creating an Azure SQL Database, building Flows, and finally using Power BI to create awesome Reports and Dashboards.

Our final product in the web series can be found below. Keep in mind that it the anonymous report is only refreshed 8 times a day.

We hope that you enjoy the content!


Announcing the new ITUnity web show: BIFocal

Announcing the new ITUnity web show: BIFocal

BIFocal LogoI was sitting in the speaker room at SharePoint Fest Seattle having a Skype chat with John White. We were collaborating on some Business Intelligence content that we could deliver at conferences either together or independently, but still ensure that we were providing a consistent message. At some point during this chat one of us suggested that this amusing & informational back and forth that we were having would make for a pretty decent podcast. Dan Holme, CEO of ITUnity, overheard the comment and said “It would make an even better web show on ITUnity!” Thus an idea was born.

I am excited to announce that a mere 5 months later we are ready to go live with our new monthly web show, BI Focal. We are going to keep you up to date on all of the latest news in the BI space, provide Tips & Tricks, have interesting guests, take viewer questions, and even do some cool demos.

We hope that you will join us for our inaugural show “Select * from Hosts” on January 28th, 2016 at 1:30PM Eastern Time on ITUnity. Check out our promo below:

Announcing the new PowerBI

Announcing the new PowerBI

Over the course the past few years, Microsoft has slowly been upping its game with regard to business intelligence. In February 2014 Microsoft announced PowerBI for Office 365 and has slowly but surely been improving the offering over the course the passing year. With yesterday’s announcements Microsoft firmly planted its flag in the business intelligence space.

Previously the offering was an add-on to Office 365 E3 License ($20 per user per month) that cost an additional $20 per user per license. The new PowerBI has been stated to be a 75% percent reduction in price which suggests that PowerBI licensing will be stand-alone from Office 365.

In addition to the dramatic change of decoupling PowerBI from Office 365, Microsoft has also rolled out to flow will also be rolling out two flavors of the service called PowerBI & PowerBI Pro. The base version will be free general availability while the Pro version will cost $10 per month.


The major differences between the two offerings is in exist in the premium features such as live interactive connectivity to data sources, ability to leverage the data management gateway, and the collaboration features. Both plans have data capacity limits, quantity of streaming data, and frequency of scheduled data refresh however there different tiers of access to those features.

There are lots of exciting new features that come to the new PowerBI is a part of this new release such as mobile apps for both iOS and Windows content pack services for dynamic, sales force, and send grid as well as the ability to explore data with natural language queries.

Having played with the iOS app for iPad over the past several months I can say that the improvements to the mobile experience is dramatic. The new graphs and charts the Microsoft has been working on bring the data to life and give you a true dashboard like experience. One of the awesome features of the mobile app is the ability to share snapshot right from the app.


Uploading an existing workbook with Power Views makes them rapidly available and even indexes them to be available in Power Q&A, referred to as Dashboards, in a matter of minutes. Prebuilt Power Views pop in under Reports and are easily viewed right on the web and in the mobile app.



More to come on the creating PowerBI models using the new PowerBI Designer, which as of this post is currently working however the upload function is disabled, and connecting to data sources Analysis Services using the new PowerBI Analysis Services Connector.

New in Office 365: Power View in HTML5 Preview

New in Office 365: Power View in HTML5 Preview

During my final session of SharePoint Fest Chicago on Wednesday I was doing a demo of Power View using my Office 365 E3 tenant & came across something new, that I had only previously seen in Power BI. The new feature in question is the Power View using HTML5.

Here is what we saw:


Naturally this caused some immediate excitement, referred to by one in attendance as a nerdgasm, as this feature had been promised to us since PASS last year. Here is what we found as we walked through the preview…

First, I hovered over the icon the following tool tip showed up:


Once clicked, we flipped over to the new HTML5 preview and the following announcement showed up in the lower left hand corner of the screen:


The “More Info” link here takes you over to a support article on the Microsoft site that contains a list of what is and is not supported under the preview as well as some great FAQs, the highlights I will list at the close of this article.

The first thing that happened when I clicked into the new HTML5 preview was that I got a failure message. Currently the preview does not support hierarchies or drilldown, both of which were present in the Power View that I was attempting to demo.


I switched to a different Power View to demo that was simply a line graph with some slicers and this is what I got:


It looked pretty great to me at first, until I stopped and looked at the slicers. I flipped out of the HTML5 preview to validate that my Power View was built correctly and it was.


The fields that were represented incorrectly in the slicers were text fields, not numeric fields. Specifically what is supposed to show here is the text of month & day of the week names. Intestingly, the “Quarter” field is a concatenated field using the DAX equation of =Concatenate(“Q”,[QuarterofYear]). Not yet sure why this is happening, but as we are dealing with a preview here there is an expectation of bugs.

Here are a couple of important things from the Microsoft Support FAQ regarding the Power View for HTML5 Preview:

1.) Currently only IE 10 & higher are supported. Other browsers may work, but are not supported at this time.
2.) The preview is only available in English today.
3.) The only way to make the HTML5 Preview the default view for Power View is to uninstall Silverlight
4.) There is still not support for embedding a Power View into an app or page, though they state they know this is a big one and are considering it for a future release.

The bottom line here is that this is a preview, not the final product. Regardless, I am über excited that it is finally here.

DevConnections 2013 Recap

DevConnections 2013 Recap

DevConnections 2013 was an amazing conference, as it has in all years past. The attendees are always hyper-engaged and come with tons of questions. As a presenter, nothing makes me happier than helping people understand the concepts I am covering better than when they walked into my sessions.  Thanks to Scot Hillier for being an amazing track chair and moderating the panel on Tuesday afternoon.

During DevConnections I did 3 sessions (2 of which were recorded) and a panel session (also recorded).  SharePoint Pro Magazine is selling access to all 60 hours of recorded content from the show.  You can find details about this at

I have been hearing from folks that my slides are not accessible on the site, so if you are looking for my content please look no further:

PowerShell for the Anxious ITPro

SharePoint Performance – Best Practices from the Field

Business Intelligence in SharePoint 2013

Time for the second half of my crazy SharePoint road trip… See you at SharePoint Fest Chicago!

A summer of fun & SharePoint

A summer of fun & SharePoint

I am sitting in the Toronto City Airport after speaking at #SPSToronto yesterday and realized that I hadn’t posted anything about my upcoming talks.

Yesterday was a day of BI. I did Heavy Metal PowerPivot Remastered in the morning, followed by John White doing SharePoint for Business Intelligence, and then I did Business Intelligence in SharePoint 2013. The whole day built nicely and the attendees grew in numbers from session to session. All it all it was a great collaborative day of BI. I have to give a ton of credit to Eric Riz, Kanwal Khipple & Ruven Gotz for putting together a terrific day for the attendees. It was great to see the hall completely packed at the end of the day with people who really loved what they got.

Next up for me is #SPSNYC this coming weekend (7/27) where I will be giving my SharePoint Performance: Best Practices from the Field talk.

Following that I will be speaking at SharePoint Fest DC (8/5 – 8/7) & SPTechCon Boston (8/11 – 8/14).

After those two I am taking a few weeks to rest up before we put on SharePoint Saturday New Hampshire, for which we have an open call for Speakers & Sponsors.

4 conferences in 4 weeks… let the insanity commence!

SQL Server 2012 SP1 is here & it’s huge for SharePoint 2013 BI

SQL Server 2012 SP1 is here & it’s huge for SharePoint 2013 BI

This is a massive deal for SharePoint 2013 BI.  Here is an excerpt from What’s New in SQL Server 2012:

Business Intelligence highlights (with SQL Server 2012 SP1, Office and SharePoint Server 2013 )

Business Intelligence highlights (with SQL Server SP1, Office and SharePoint Server 2013 Preview) are:

  • Enable self-service BI as a natural part of users day-to-day activities in Excel 2013:

  • Access and mash-up data from any source (PowerPivot). Documentation related to PowerPivot in Excel 2013 (

  • Stunning visualizations and data discovery (Power View). Documentation related to Power View in Excel (

  • Work with hundreds of millions of rows of data (powered by xVelocity in-memory technologies).

  • Discover, assess and audit user created spreadsheets via SharePoint Server 2013 Preview.

  • A new version of the Reporting Services add-in for SharePoint and an updated SharePoint mode report server that supports SharePoint 2013. For more information, see the following:

  • A new architecture for SQL Server 2012 SP1 CTP4 PowerPivot that supports a PowerPivot server outside a SharePoint 2013 farm. A Windows Installer package (spPowerpivot.msi) that enhances the PowerPivot for SharePoint experience. Additional features include PowerPivot Gallery, schedule data refresh, and management dashboard. For more information, see the following:

  • Share and collaborate on self-service BI assets via SharePoint Server 2013 Preview and SQL Server 2012 SP1.”

The key takeaway and true game changer is that the SQL SSAS engine for PowerPivot is no longer required to be on a SharePoint box.  This means you no longer need a SQL license for your SharePoint App server to be able to run PowerPivot.  Don’t miss understand, you still need to license SQL to run PowerPivot, but you can do it on a separate box that can support multiple SharePoint farms and multiple Tabular BISM solutions.  Pretty huge shift.

You can download SQL Server 2012 SP1 & SQL Server 2012 SP1 Feature Pack from these links.

Enjoy… I know I will!

Hooray, it’s a book!: “Developing Business Intelligence Apps for SharePoint”

Hooray, it’s a book!: “Developing Business Intelligence Apps for SharePoint”


Over the past year I have been spending my night’s & weekends working on a book with my co-author, Dave Feldman, and I am proud to say that we have completed our draft of “Developing Business Intelligence Apps for SharePoint”

Through the book you will learn to create dynamic Business Intelligence solutions for SharePoint, using Microsoft Visual Studio LightSwitch, SQL Server 2012, and other tools and technologies. This hands-on book shows you how to create data-rich BI applications with SharePoint faster and with more capabilities than previously possible. You’ll learn the entire process, from high-level concepts, to low-code development and deployment, to setup and configuration.

  • Quickly build a robust schema and applications with Visual Studio LightSwitch
  • Leverage PowerPivot v2 to build a business intelligence semantic model
  • Create reports with Excel Services, Report Builder, and Power View

The happy thing about our book is that we saw the CSOM model of SharePoint 2013 coming down the road and architected our solutions in the book so that they are relevant to both the 2010 & 2013 platforms (and hopefully many versions of SharePoint to come).

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now and will be available via O’Reilly Early Release.   Dave & I will be at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas where O’Reilly will have a form of the book available (not quite sure if it will be a few chapters or what at that point, but there will be something!). 

I will say that Dave & I were warned by Andrew Connell & Scot Hillier when we started talking about writing this book that taking on a book project is much like having a child.  9+ months of long uncomfortable sleepless nights to give birth to something that you hope goes on to do good things in this world (I am paraphrasing a bit here… basically they both said it was going to suck something awful, but we would be happy when it was all over).  Well gents, you were right on all counts.  The fun part is that while I have 2 kids and sort of had an idea of what something like that was going to be like, Dave’s wife is pregnant with their first child and is due this SUNDAY.  Needless to say, we are glad to be done before Baby “Cookie Monster” Feldman arrives. smile

Getting PowerPivot & Power View working in Office 2013

Getting PowerPivot & Power View working in Office 2013

One of the many exciting features of Office 2013 is that PowerPivot now comes as a part of the installation & Power View is now available in the client for Excel 2013 , rather than being an post installation add-in for PowerPivot and web resident only for PowerView.  PowerPivot is still a COM add-in, but is not more tightly integrated with the product & Power View is now a COM Add-in.

I upgraded to Office 2013, removing the 2010 version, on Monday night and immediately I was faced with a problem.  PowerPivot showed in the ribbon, but was not clickable! After attempting to click in the greyed out bar for about 5 minutes I started digging in.  I found that PowerPivot was active in the Add-ins section, but something didn’t seem quite right:


This Add-in was the SQL 2012 version.  Once I unchecked this and went back to the Add-ins section I found the newer version of PowerPivot was now available.  There was a conflict with the older version blocking the newer version from being able to be activated.


Once I checked “Microsoft Office PowerPivot for Excel 2013” (and Power View since I was already here and excited to check it out) the Manage option in the ribbon lit up and I was off to the races.


Since I still need to do work with PowerPivot v2 models and am not willing to upgrade everything to the beta version yet, I did re-install Office 2010 and now have the fun experience of two PowerPivot tabs in my ribbon in Excel 2013 (doesn’t happen in Excel 2010), but if I disable the older version of PowerPivot in 2013, it disables it in 2010 as well. 



I have yet to have an issue with having both add-ins active at once since reactivating the older version, as the active add-in is the only one that lights up.


More to come on the great new features of PowerPivot, Power View and Inquire, but for now its time to get back to my vacation smile