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Using Featured Questions in Power BI Q&A

Those of you who have tried Power BI may have noticed the Featured Questions tiles:

(Those of you who have not yet tried Power BI: go to powerbi.com and build you own demo environments in minutes for free!)

The featured questions function as a sort of shortcut / favorite to an answer in Q&A. What is cool is that you can actually add your own.

To do this start Q&A and come up with the question you would like to feature. I used “medal count by country in europe for swimming vs athletics”.

Now, copy that question (or remember it) and click on the fly-out on the right and then choose “featured questions”. Next click on “add featured question”.

In the next window type or paste your question and wait for Q&A to validate it.

Be sure to enable ‘show on the Power BI site home page’ if you want your question to show up on the home page and continue setting up your tile. I used these settings (I used an image from Wikipedia to function as background. Not the prettiest but it works):

Next click ‘save’. Next go back to the Power BI home page and there it is:

Pretty cool huh?


Using Power BI Q&A to talk to your music collection

In an earlier post I used Power BI (specifically Power Query, Power View and Power Pivot) to get insight into my music collection. In this post I have a conversation with my music collection using Power BI Q&A.

Q&A enables you to “talk” to your datasets and ask questions in natural language. Q&A gets the data, proposes a visualization and displays it. You can then change the question, get immediate feedback. This invites the user to do data exploration.

What I did to make this work is this: I uploaded the Excel sheet to SharePoint and enabled it for Power BI. Then I enabled the same sheet for Q&A. Next step was to use Q&A and ask questions.

The question I started with was: “number of albums by release date”. Q&A responds like this:

As you can see, it selected my Excel sheet and chose a line graph to display the number of albums by year. What is interesting is the spike to the left. It turns out this is a data quality issue: a lot of dates have been reported as being 31/12/1899 when there was no date in the tags in the first place.

Let’s say I would like to focus more on recent data, such as albums since 1960. I refined my question to “number of albums by release date after 1960”, which gives me this result:

Then I decided to look at one decade: “number of albums per artist where decade is 1980 – 1989”. This is the result I got:

As you can see in this decade Queen is on the top. Let’s dive a bit deeper into in which decades Queen released albums that I have in my collection: “number of albums by decade where artist is Queen”. This is the result:


As you can see I have got quite a few Queen albums spread over multiple decades. Now let’s see if Queen is indeed as popular in my collection as it might look. I decided not to look at albums but at number of tracks. I refined my question to: “top artist by number of tracks”. This is the result.


Interestingly Queen is only in 10th place here (even after the choir which my mom is part of J). Based on the number of tracks Herman Brood is the most popular artist in my collection.

This got my wondering about the actual duration of the music (track length). Finally, I changed the question to: “top artist by total length”. This gave me the following result:

When looking at the total track length of all songs Queen is back at place two and my all-time favorite band is on top (Supertramp).

Hope you enjoyed the tour of my music collection using Q&A. Looking forward to feedback and your examples!


The wait is almost over…

It’s almost Christmas!

Well, uh, that’s not actually why I wrote this post. I noticed a note on the Power BI blog that says: “In a few days we will enable the ability to explore your own data with Q&A. You can add your own models to Q&A and begin to explore them with natural language query.” (See full post here: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/powerbi/archive/2013/12/13/one-step-closer-to-simplifying-data-analysis-and-visualization-new-features-added-to-power-bi-for-office-365-and-power-query-add-in-for-excel-preview.aspx)

Read that again! This means that you can upload your own Power BI workbooks and use Q&A to have a conversation with your data. How cool is that! Minority report anyone?

Power BI Demo Contest

I want to draw your attention to a contest that we run: the Power BI Demo Contest. All you need to do is create a short video of something cool you built using Power BI and share it. You could win great prizes!

More info is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/microsoftbi/app_112813808737465

Good luck!

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