Learn the basics of Power BI with this beginner’s guide

Beginners Guide: Basics of Power BI

Power BI can be overwhelming due to the numerous components involved. However, following along with this tutorial can give you a quick introduction to the basics of Power BI. In just 20 minutes, you can create your first Power BI dashboard and publish it on the web.

Quick introduction to power bi basics
Quick introduction to the basics of Power BI

Getting Started with Power BI

For those who are absolute beginners in analytics or just want to get up to speed quickly, it’s important to learn the basics of data exploration, data flow, data transformations, data visualizations, and reporting. Video tutorials are available that cover each topic in detail, such as the one from Kindson The Genius you’ll see below, providing important tips and tricks along the way.

Get sample dataset from here

The YouTube tutorial is a step-by-step guide for beginners on creating a report in Power BI, including installation, importing data, data transformation and visualization, and creating interactive reports. It also covers data access expressions, modeling, and designing the report, including adding a title and filtering the data. The tutorial also teaches how to create a new table and how to calculate the total units sold.

Overview Power BI Basics

If you do not have Power BI installed, you can quickly install it from the Microsoft Store or by going to powerbi.com and selecting “Products.” If you want to know how to install power bi desktop for mac check this section where I mention some tools to get it.

Once you have installed Power BI, log in with your work account, and you will land on the main page to create reports. To start creating reports, you need to add data.

Adding Data to Power BI

Adding Data to Power BI

To create any reports, you first need to add data. Power BI allows you to import data from Excel, SQL, and other common data sources. If you don’t find your data source, you can get data from another source. You can select a file under categories like Excel workbook, text CSV, and more. You can also import data from the web, SharePoint, OData feed, and various other options.

To import data, select the “Get Data” option, where you will see recent sources and access to different Power BI tutorials. If you don’t find your data source here, you can get data from another source. Click on “Text/CSV” to import an invoice file or “Excel workbook” to import customer master data.

After selecting the desired data set, you can choose whether to directly load it into Power BI or transform it first. In most cases, you will want to transform the data to ensure that it is recognized correctly by Power BI. To transform the data, click on “Transform Data,” which will take you to the Power Query Editor.

Using the Power Query Editor

In the Power Query Editor, you can clean up the data or add new columns. Ensure that your data is properly recognized by Power BI. Check that your numbers are properly recognized as numbers and that your dates are recognized as dates.

For example, you may want to combine columns, such as the year, month, and day, into a single date column. To do this, select the three columns, right-click, and select “Merge Columns.” Enter the separator, name the column, and click “OK.” You can also change the data type to “date” to enable time intelligence analysis in Power BI.

Publishing Your Dashboard

Once you have completed the necessary transformations, you can create your Power BI dashboard. Click on the “Report” tab to access the report-building tools. Here you can create charts, graphs, and other visualizations of your data.

When your dashboard is complete, you can publish it to the web. From the “Home” tab, select “Publish” and choose the destination for your dashboard.

Setting up Relationships

Before building any visuals, it’s important to check where the data went. You should be able to see all the columns organized in order. In this example, there are two tables: invoice data and master customer data. The connection between the two is the customer code and customer ID. Instead of merging the tables, it’s better to use relationships to connect them together.

Setting up Relationships - Model data

Power BI is smart enough to recognize the relationship between the tables and will automatically set it up if the “auto detect new relationships” setting is enabled. If it’s not enabled, you can create your own relationship manually by clicking on the one side and dragging with your mouse to the other side.

Creating Reports

Once your data is loaded and your relationship is set up, you can start creating reports. Power BI makes it easy to create visuals by simply selecting what you want. For example, if you want to analyze sales by customer category name, you can place a checkmark beside it and Power BI will automatically insert a column chart. If you want a clustered bar chart instead, you can adjust the selection from the visualizations menu.

You can also add filters to your reports. For example, if you want to filter your data by year, you can add a slicer. A slicer is a tool that allows you to filter your data by selecting values from a list or dropdown menu. To add a slicer, click on the options menu and select “Slicer”. You can then choose what you want to add to the slicer. In this example, we added a date hierarchy to the single date column, which allows us to filter by year.

Formatting your Visuals

Power BI also allows you to format your visuals. You can change the look of your visuals by adjusting options such as color, position, alignment, and size. You can also adjust the title and add data labels. You can even customize the tooltip that appears when you hover over each column.

Creating a Year over Year Change

To create a year over year change in Power BI, you need to select the base value, which in this example is sales, and the date field. Simply click and drag the date field into the designated box. If you get an error message indicating that the date column doesn’t have the calendar icon in front of it, don’t worry. The calendar icon is automatically created by Power BI behind the scenes, generating additional breakdowns. Although it’s good practice to add a separate calendar table to the data model when dealing with different fact tables, it’s not necessary if you’re just starting with Power BI or have a simple model. Once you have selected the date field, you can place a checkmark to get the year over year percentage calculation. You can check your numbers to ensure you have the correct result.

Visualizing Data

In Power BI, filters act as both a slicer and a filter. For instance, if you click on the “Supermarket” filter, you can see the filtered data on your table and map chart. You can remove the filter by double-clicking on the white area. You can also filter any visual by clicking on it. For example, to visualize sales by province, click on the map chart icon, add sales as your key performance indicator (KPI), and choose “Province” from the customer master data. When you hover over a state, you can see the name of the state and the associated sales. You can add a line chart for quantity by month and a checkmark beside quantity and month.

Creating Sales Year to Date

To create sales year to date, add a quick measure by right-clicking on the base measure and selecting “Add a new quick measure.” Scroll down to time intelligence and select “Year to date total” to make the sales field the base value. Click and drag the date column into the designated box, then click OK to add it to your table.

Customizing Your Report

To customize your report in Power BI, you can insert a text box and adjust the formatting to your needs. You can also add KPI cards, like quantity, which you can drag and place on the side of your report. If you want to add more pages, you can do so by clicking the option to add a new page. If you get new data, simply replace the current invoice text file with the new one, and then click on refresh to update everything automatically.

Writing Your Own Measures

If you need to do more complex calculations that you can’t find in the quick measures, you can write your own measures by clicking on “New measure.” However, to write accurate measures, you’ll need to learn the DAX formula language. Basic DAX can already handle a lot of complex analysis, so if you’re familiar with Excel formulas, you can get started with DAX.

Where to Learn Power BI?

Learning the intricacies of Microsoft analytics can be overwhelming for newbies, but there are plenty of resources available to get you up and running. With the increasing popularity of remote work, there are more avenues than ever to master this technology. DataCamp, an online education platform, offers an extensive library of tutorials on the subject. It covers a wide range of topics, from the absolute basics to more advanced concepts like constructing dashboards and merging data sources. With their courses, learners will be able to become proficient in the technology and make informed decisions. Furthermore, Microsoft also provides courses and certifications related to analytics through its Microsoft Learning Portal. These courses are ideal for those seeking to further their knowledge.

In addition to online courses and credentials, there are a number of analytics bootcamps available, such as those from Microsoft. These bootcamps are intended to provide a concentrated learning experience, allowing students to gain a thorough comprehension of the technology in just one week. Such bootcamps are perfect for those who have a basic understanding of the subject, but want to take their skills to the next level. Attending a bootcamp can also be beneficial for those seeking to receive a certification related to analytics.

One can learn these skills through various courses and skill paths available online

Power BI skills

To improve Power BI skills, one can create projects that mirror real-world data analysis

1. Finding and following content creators who specialize in Power BI can also be helpful.

2. Online courses and tutorials can help extend knowledge of Power BI and learn advanced features such as Power Query and data modelling.

3. It is also important to have proficiency in data science, business intelligence, and data analytics and be aware of data integration, data warehousing, and presentation tactics and concepts.

4. Additionally, practising SQL querying can help to improve results.

Final Thoughts

Power BI is a powerful tool for visualizing data and performing complex analyses. With its intuitive interface and quick measures, you can easily create year over year changes, sales year to date, and other visualizations. Filters allow you to slice and filter your data, while KPI cards and text boxes enable you to customize your report. If you need to do more complex calculations, you can write your own measures with DAX. By learning how to use Power BI, you can make data-driven decisions and gain insights into your business.

If you’re a beginner, you’ll be interested in this list of resources to continue your Power BI journey.