Wednesday, April 22, 2015

DAX: Introductory Resources

As anyone who has worked with a cube or a tabular model knows, getting data out is easy -- but doing more complex calculations is difficult.

I've been developing a data warehouse (Kimball) for my job over the last two months and two of our business analysts are trying to figure out how to get data out of the SSAS tabular models. They know about DAX (the query language of SSAS Tabular and PowerPivot) but they've been having a hard time getting basic tutorials related to DAX.

For analysts new to DAX, I'm going to post some links to sites that I think are helpful for learning DAX. They will be broken down into three categories. I will also try augmenting and improving these lists from time to time.

Update 20150422: If SSMS is too primitive for you, there is also a tool on CodePlex called DAX Studio.

Introductory DAX

  1. Using DAX to retrieve tabular data. This link is a really excellent starting point if you want to run DAX queries in SSMS. It's a much, much easier sandbox compared to PowerPivot or SSDT. 
  2. Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) Reference. DAX is a Microsoft expression language. It was built to resemble the Excel Formula Bar, but it goes way, way beyond that. Microsoft's documentation is sometimes heavy on the technicals and low on intuition. Nonetheless, it's always a good idea to start at the source. 
  3. DAX Queries, Part 1. Chris Webb also has a multi-part series that is an intro to DAX. 

Intermediate DAX

  1. Context in DAX Formulas. Context is an important topic. However, it's not immediately necessary to get data out of your cubes. But rest assured, it will come up. And when it does, it's a challenging topic and will require extra brain-power to tackle. 

Advanced DAX

  1. DAX Patterns. You can pull of some amazing queries and calculations in DAX. Once you've mastered the introductory and intermediate levels, it's time to start learning these great patterns. 


  1. Microsoft Excel 2013 Building Data Models with PowerPivot. I read this book. It's slightly advanced, but a good reference. I recommend reading it after you've figured out the basics of DAX. I also recommend working through as many of the examples as possible!
  2. Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Analysis Services: The BISM Tabular Model. This is an advanced book that is aimed at developers of tabular models. I recommend this only if you are going to be building cubes/tabular models.

No comments:

Post a Comment