Workaround to connect to Power BI dataflows from Power Query in Excel

Currently, we cannot connect to Power BI dataflows from Excel Power Query. And as we also cannot use custom connectors in there, we need a different alternative. I’m going to describe how to consume the results from Power BI dataflows as csv-files from Azure Blob Storage. I’m using the “AzureStorage.Blobs” function here, which authenticates with the key of the storage account. So just be aware that this means that you cannot apply role based security here. (Edit: A native connector that supports that is supposed to come soon: Microsoft Power Platform dataflows connector available in Excel – Power Platform Release Plan | Microsoft Docs)

General setup

Usually, when a Power BI dataflow is refreshed, a csv-file will be written to a storage in the background that holds the results of a refreshed entity. But you have the option to “bring your own Data Lake” where these files are written to instead. This then allows you to consume the csv files with the “AzureStorage.Blobs” function in Power Query for Excel instead.

Pragmatic Works have a very good tutorial on how to setup the storage in Azure and connect a new Power BI workspace to it as a prerequisite.

Details to connect to dataflows from Excel

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How to refresh Power Queries on protected sheets in Excel

When working with Power Query in Excel you might want to refresh Power Queries on protected sheets. But this will not work by default. Using a macro to temporarily unprotect the sheet and protect it again will do the trick. But this requires the password being displayed in the VBA code. So please have in mind that this technique only works for scenarios where you want to prevent accidental changes with the password protection.

Steps to refresh Power Queries on protected sheets

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Improve File Import from SharePoint in Power BI and Power Query

When you use the UI to import files from SharePoint, you’ll end up with the Sharepoint.Files function. This function can become fairly or super slow when you use it on large SharePoint sites. This is due to the fact, that it will retrieve metadata for ALL files that lie on the site. Meaning: The root site whose URL you have to enter as the function argument. So I’ve developed a better way for File import from SharePoint.

Alternative

A faster alternative is the function SharePoint.Contents. This function will read much less metadata and that seems to make it faster. But it comes with a different navigation experience: It basically only allows to select files from one folder.

Therefore I’ve created 2 functions that overcome those limitations.

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Tips to download files from webpages in Power Query and Power BI

When downloading data from the web, it’s often best to grab the data from APIs that are designed for machine-to-machine communication than from the site that’s actually visible on the screen. Not only is the download usually faster, but you also often get more additional parameters that can be very useful. In this article I’m going to show you how to retrieve the relevant URLs for downloading files from webpages (without resorting to external tools like Fiddler) and how to tweak them to your needs.

Retrieving the URL to download files from webpages

Say I want to download historical stock prices from this webpage:

https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/AAPL/history?p=AAPL

The screen will show a link to a download: Read more

Advanced transformations on multiple columns at once in Power BI and Power Query

You can apply simple transformations to multiple columns at once in Power Query using the UI only. In this article I show how you can apply advanced transformations on multiple columns at once instead. You can also use this to use custom functions instead. And lastly for the lazyefficient fans of custom M-functions: You will get a new “TranformAllMyColumnsAtOnceHowILikeIt”-function as well 😉

Background

The Transform-tab in the query editor is sensitive to the columns you select. So if you select multiple number columns for example, some number transformations will be greyed out and are therefore not accessible:

Some symbols are greyed out, Advanced transformations on multiple columns at once in Power BI and Power Query, Power BI, Power Query, Power BI Desktop

Some symbols are greyed out

So how could I then multiply all my columns by 10 for example, as the symbol for multiplication is greyed out? Read more

Export large amount of data from Power BI desktop visuals

I’m going to show how to export data from visuals in Power BI Desktop that’s too big to be downloaded by the native functionality and therefore returns this error-message:

Export data from visuals

Check if you really need this

Although the method is fairly simple, there are simpler methods if you just need the raw data from your data model (and not the specific aggregations or measures that the visual contains): Read more