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An Introduction to Power View in SQL Server 2012 RC0

We’re coming up to the end of 2011 and it’s been a while since I’ve posted here on the SQL Mag BI Blog. In fact, in the 1.5 months sine I’ve posted here, the site’s name has changed to SQL Server Pro and SQL Server 2012 Release Candidate (RC0) was released! Well, since this is a BI blog for SQL Server, it only makes to end the year in style. Let me introduce you briefly to perhaps the most highly-anticipated new BI feature and new tool in SQL Server 2012, Power View.

What is Power View?

Power View is a brand new Silverlight browser-based reporting tool that is currently scheduled to ship with SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition and the new Business Intelligence editions, once general availability hits in 2012 (current plan as of RC0). You access the reporting tool from a SharePoint 2010 library or BI site and it is geared toward business users. You get one surface to design on and to report from. There is no click-once client or separate tool to download for designing and viewing. That is still the general model for the existing Report Builder and SSRS reporting tools in SQL Server and those still exist with their own enhancements in SQL Server 2012. But the biggest and most exciting advances in SSRS 2012 are in the Power View tool. I’ve used Silverlight components in the past and Derek and I have references different ways to utilize Silverlight in your BI applications here on this blog. Power View gives you that power and interactive data exploration capability out of the box, meaning that your business users can be much more engaged with data assets in the data warehouse or anywhere in your organization, which encourages better decision making.

If you have used the SSRS tools in the past like BIDS with Visual Studio or Report Builder, then you will notice a bit of a paradigm change with Power View. Power View is only available through SharePoint and you need to first have a BISM or a Shared Reporting Services data connection file created in SharePoint that points to your data source. Since Power View is meant to enable “data exploration” by business users, you will find that the data models are entity names that you select for inclusion in your report views similar to Excel’s pivot table features. From my perspective, I found the Power View experience to be a natural progression and combination of PowerPivot and SSRS.

Now, because the data source for your Power View report is a model that you’ve built, most typically in a modeling tool like the tabular data model in Visual Studio 2010 with SQL Server 2012 or PowerPivot, the person authoring the report does not have to worry about the security, permissions, table names, server names, etc. Those have been encapsulated in the semantic layer and hidden from the report designer. We’ll have time to dig into an introduction to PowerPivot 2.0 in SQL Server 2012 and the tabular data models, BI Semantic Models, etc. in another follow-up posting here.

OK, so that’s the set-up. Now, what does this all look like and feel like? Like I said earlier, it is a pure-play Silverlight application, so it’s all encapsulated in your browser. You will need to launch Power View from SharePoint 2010 and you must have the tabular model to point to like I described above. The screenshots below give you just a sampling of what to expect from Power View. To actually experience it yourself, try things out for yourself. Enjoy! Hopefully this is enough to get you started as an intro to Power View. Much more coming sooner rather than later. . . .

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