Improved Text.SplitAny – function for Power BI and Power Query

Today I’ll present an adjustment to the Text.SplitAny – function in Power BI’s query editor or Power Query. The native function takes a string as an input and splits the text by every character that is contained in the string. This seems fairly unusual to me and I haven’t used that function very often.

Problem

But what I have come across fairly often is the requirement to split a string by a bunch of different (whole) strings (instead of single characters).

Solution

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Return all occurrences of text between delimiters in Power BI and Power Query

The M-function Text.BetweenDelimiters does what it says and returns the text between 2 delimiters in the query editor of Power BI and Power Query. But irrespective of its optional arguments you can use to select specific occurrences, it will always only return one string found.

Problem

How to retrieve all occurrences of strings between in a text field like here for example: I’d like to get a list that contains “Python” and “R”:

“Meanwhile I prefer +Python!+ to +R!+”

Meaning all strings found between the delimiters “+” and “!+”.

Solution

This function will return the desired list:

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Transform text with exceptions in Power BI and Power Query

Recently I picked up an interesting request to transform text with exceptions: Transform the words in a column to proper case, but keep certain keywords like in a defined list.

Problem: Transform text with exeptions

Say you have a list with specific terms that shouldn’t be proper cased like so:

And you want to proper case the following column:

Convert to proper case with exceptions

So I proper case each word that is not contained in the “KeepTable”, identify the elements in the “KeepTable” in a case insensitive way and transform them into the syntax that’s specified in the “KeepTable”.

Solution

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Unravel cumulative totals to their initial elements in Power BI and Power Query

Recently I came across an interesting request where someone wanted to un-cumulate their quarterly YTD-figures (green) into their single quarters values (red) like so (“Unravel cumulative totals”):

Task

Retrieve every Quarters Amount from the Quarter To Date values (“YAmount”)

Method

To retrieve this value, one would have to start with the first value in the year. This is also the value of the first quarter, but for the 2nd quarter, one would have to deduct the value of the first quarter from the cumulative value of the 2nd quarter. So basically retrieving the previous cumulative row and deduct it from the current cumulative row. Do this for every row, unless it’s the start of the year or belongs to a different account code in this example:

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Comparing Table.AlternateRows with List.Alternate in Power BI and Power Query

I must admit that I had more than one unsuccessful attempt to try to fully understand how the List.Alternate-function works. What helped me at the end, was the function Table.AlternateRows. It pretends to be similar to List.Alternate, but holds some surprises that I will uncover in this blogpost:

How Table.Alternate works

Say I have the table below and want to retrieve just the letters that appear in every 2nd row:

Table.Alternate – Remove every other row

I find the dialogue that appears very helpful and intuitive:

It clearly is a removal operation and here I want to remove the 1st row from my table (“1”), and just one at a time. Also want to keep just one row (“A”) before the next one is removed (“2”)  and so on.

In the formula bar, this step will be translated into this M-code:

Table.AlternateRows(Source,0,1,1)

If you would have expected it to be translated to: Table.AlternateRows(Source,1,1,1) instead, you might have forgotten that the M-language in Power Query starts to count at 0, so the first row to remove is expressed by the 0 here.

List.Alternate should work similar

So if my input is a list instead of a table like below, I should expect a similar result than the sample above if I tweak the code a bit, shouldn’t I?

List.Alternate – produces a different result

But hey: What’s wrong here? Not a single element has been removed from the list !!

So let’s have a look into the documentation:

List.Alternate – Function Documentation

and compare it with the Table.AlternateRows documentation:

Table.AlternateRows – Function Documentation

Hm – at least we have one match here: The “offset” parameter is included in both functions. But it is the first (number) parameter in the Table-function and is at the last position in the List-function. So let’s move it around then like this:

List.Alternate – same result with different parameter order

There we are 🙂

So the order of the function parameters is different here. Also the other parameter names are different and their description. I find them much easier to understand in the Table function and of course, the function dialogue there helps to understand what shall happen as well.

Enjoy & stay queryious 😉

Performance tip for List.Generate (1): Buffer your tables in Power BI and Power Query

Lately I was working on a fairly advanced allocation algorithm on large data which forced me to search for different tricks to improve performance than those that you can find on my site here already.

Background

I was using List.Generate to check for every month in my table, if there was enough free capacity on a platform to start new wells. As every well had a certain production scheme (producing different amounts for a certain length of time), I first had to check the total production amount of active wells before I could determine the spare capacity for a new month. So I had to look into every active well, grab the capacity of the new month and add it up.

Therefore I’ve stored the active production schemes in one table in my List.Generate-record. That lead to an exponentially decreasing performance unfortunately.

Solution to improve performance of List.Generate

Buffering my tables in the “next”-function reduced the query duration by almost 70% !

Although a Table.Buffer or List.Buffer is always high on my list when it comes to performance issues, I was fairly surprised to see that behaviour here: As List.Generate returns the last element of its list as an argument for the next step, I was always assuming that this would be cached (and that was the reason because List.Generate performs recursive operations faster than the native recursion in M). Also, I had just referenced that table once ane in such a case, a buffer would normally not have come into my mind. (But desperation sometimes leads to unexpected actions …)

I also buffered a table that had just been referenced within the current record (and not recursively) and this improved performance as well. (Although in that case, the tables has been referenced multiple times within the current record). But this buffer didn’t have such a big impact on performance than the one on the table that was referenced by the recursive action.

Code

Here is some pseudo-code illustrating the general principle:

Solution with buffers:

How to improve performance of List.Generate: Use Table.Buffer

 

Is that new to you or have you made the same experience? Which grades of performance improvements did you achieve with this method? Please let me know in the comments!

Enjoy & stay queryious 😉