More Power BI API awesomeness, now on PowerShell & SmartCharts

Amazing week for Data lovers & Business Intelligence minds, Power BI Preview is now *globally* available! Be sure to check out the public announcement  for details. And Chris Webb’s BI blog for additional insights.

By now you know that there’s a new & strong developer story for the new Power BI,  and even if at the moment we have a simple API to test drive, it already allows to think of interesting scenarios. Particularly for real-time dashboards or  the click to insights pattern  I happen to obsess so much ….

Really, seems there will be no place for data to hide from Power BI :). When Power BI can’t get there… we will bring it to Power BI in a blink of an eye, in real time if needed, all using the brand new APIs.

Don’t have Power BI Designer? or even Excel? and need to quick load  some data to explore? Real time? Check out DevScope github  & use the awesome Power BI API Powershell modules to load your Data into PowerBI directly from the command line (for more info & a cool real time sample don’t miss  Rui Romano blog post).

Not forgetting we already have NuGet Power BI api modules for .Net, Xamarin,  iOS & Android by Sylvain Pontoreau .  Or more recently new sample web apps for Power BI api scenarios.

Adding that, as of… now :) you can also use SmartCharts to quick send & live sync to Power BI directly from Excel. :)

Start with your data as usual or the sample dataset and just click Send To Power BI.

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Authenticate & authorize the app for Power BI access,  choose a Dataset and a table name :

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and your data will be available in your Power BI account ready to more Power BI awesomeness

(note: if using date/time columns we also add some extra time related columns we happen to use in the app).

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Your data ready to explore in Power BI:

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Noting that you should be able to do all this on trial mode without any restrictions.  Got feedback and requests? let us know (there’s a feedback form in the app :) we will get back to you)

Get SmartCharts here, or checkout or other DevScope Labs  Office Apps here.

If you want to know more about the new APIs, some additional recommended reading:

More to come :) stay tuned

Rui

To Microsoft Office Apps/Developer Teams: Some requests to improve #Office #Apps Experience–a developer’s view :)

SharePoint conference 2014 is around the corner. The office team & office developer team have been posting some new content on their blog, useful tips for anyone building Office apps for office store. Be sure to check these recent posts for guidance on office apps development:

(also, Office 2013 SP1 was released this week, sp1 new features for sharepoint & office apps api/sdk expected to be announced during the SharePoint conference next week)

Anyway, this post is not for developers, but for Office Apps developer/seller dashboard teams :)

It’s my personal view, after publishing, supporting & improving a few apps (SmartCharts, GanttChart, -a few others coming soon ;) )on how the experience could be improved for end users and developers, hoping to drive a much higher acceptance for Office Apps & the App model in Office365/SharePoint.

So, what have we learned and what would be great to see improved in the Office Apps experience?

1-Apps in the office ribbon are difficult to find (available only through insert/app.. :( )

We frequently get people asking where they can find the app after installing! We need an individual Apps tab, where we could add our favorite apps, our full list of installed apps, quick access to the store & recent apps. And task panes apps  aren’t particularly “insertable” anyway. ~

Sorry, this need an urgent fix! An new Apps ribbon tab!

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2-No app icons? Except for local catalogs… needs fixing also, why is that? we get the icon in about, but not listed in our apps…

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Developer/Local Catalogs Apps with Icon

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Office Apps-no icon :(

(SP1 for Office 2013 seems to bring some minor improvements but far from what I describe above… we get app icons for some apps but you can’t configure the apps that show in the ribbon… currently you will get bing maps and people graph  from msft)

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Office 2013 SP1 tab for Apps

3-Users can’t get details/screenshots about an app using the Excel built in app browser?

How are they supposed to pay, install & trust an app if they don’t know what its supposed to do?

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we click try/but/install and the only available info is…

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come on!? doesn’t make sense when we have rich description and screenshots available in the store.

Also this should be en easy fix by the office team because all we are seeing is a web page from the store. (you can see that page here)

(also note that in this screen there is no way, that I know of ,  of clicking to open the app details in the browser…? you need to click the publisher link and then see all apps…)

4-App analytics in seller dashboard is….well…not great :(

Trust me, the one thing you should do from day one is to configure google analytics, your own custom analytics framework or both (yes, be sure to reflect that in your privacy page).

Office Seller dashboard analytics is not very useful to gain insights on how to tune your app and how it’s being used. Main pain points for analytics in the app seller dashboard (office apps):

  • we get historic data only for the latest 4 weeks :(
  • we only have week totals, not detailed data, not even daily data (no demographics, time, date, browser versions, nothing…)
  • The CSV you can download also has only week total aggregates, not very useful
  • data usually lags 2-3 days behind, and happened recently due to some issues on the office store, even weeks behind current date
  • if you are actually selling apps, there’s no metric whatsoever regarding revenue (you’ll have to wait for the end of month and use very limited tax/payout reports, and even then you’ll have to convert from international currencies to local currency…)
  • paid downloads & free download are bundled together in downloads metric

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Hope all these could be fixed soon, in the world of data, the available dashboards and data are really lacking (being kind here honestly…).

I would gladly skip the built-in Seller Dashboard “dashboards” and exchange all that for the detailed “fact” data on downloads, browser hits. I’ll do my “dashboarding” on that! :)

5-Developer support could be a little better

While developing and getting SmartCharts approved we had several issues with the api, supporting IE9 in Excel web app, strange redirects issues breaking the office API context model, undocumented issues with permissions and data read API calls. I must say that having been in touch with some office apps support teams in this process, we were on your own almost all the time :(. Expect delay for advanced issues, these are the ones difficult to reproduce (ex: excel web app in IE9/chrome).

There a few locations to send feedback (foruns, office sp dev user voice site), but getting through and actually get real help has been a struggle for us. My initial post on addFromPromptAsync /read permission question is still to see an answer, (we just went ahead and requested full read/write permissions instead of read, problem “solved”… but seems a bug/very undocumented to me…)

6-Some bug/issues remain

Some reported issues, that seem to be related to core office app js API  remain,

  • for example excel web app & dates have issues:

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  • very annoying issue-some users buy the apps but Excel keeps showing the app as trial, I have seen that happen, there are app reviews from users pointing this issue, and we’ve also received reports from some users with this problem (yet to find a proper workaround… been using  an undocumented one to fix this… ) –
    (note:received two user reports today with this specific issue!…not good…)

That’s it…

Hope this can reach someone on the office teams and help a little bit with some of these issues.  Do you know someone there? can you please pass this along? thanks!  ;)

btw-be sure to check the SharePoint Conference App Awards – People’s Choice! contest. now running into final voting period until February 28, 4:00PM PST. (little disappointed to know that SmartCharts didn’t make it to the final in people awards, wasn’t aware of this voting until very recently :( but hoping we still get a chance on other categories :) )

Take care!

 

Rui

Introducing SmartCharts Data Discovery App for Excel

Finally! :) time to briefly introduce our SmartCharts app for Excel now available at Office Apps Store (download here).

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So, yet another “chart” app/tool for Excel…what’s the point? :) what’s it for?

Well, beyond being a DevScope research project and a place where we will be test driving lots of #dataviz features using the latest technologies, there were some other drivers to build the app:

  • There’s so much data available these days, but still most people can’t even acknowledge that there’s lot of hidden value in data, being it small, medium or big data… so they don’t even start exploring it :(
  • Provide a data discovery tool that keeps user focus on the data, not modeling, not chart designing, just slice, dice & visual data mining
  • There are a lot of patterns for dataviz, but there seem to be a lack of reusable pre-built analytic models for the most simple data intelligence tasks, time series, pattern recognition, drill down views
  • We are building an excessive number of dashboards (really! we are), repeating the same patterns over and over again, same for data mining… can’t we get reusable analytic modules that quickly adapt to different datasets? Data+Services inter-connectable through already available metadata?
  • An Excel app  seemed an awesome way to continue the research work we started with our Data Insights addin few months ago (same core concepts really, we will be back to that eventually ;) )
  • A tool that we can now use to quickly & easily explore small datasets instantly in Excel (under 100k,150k rows) all kind of log tables, log streams, etl logs, usage logs. 
  • (yes, do not expect much value if you’re using it with small tables, or tables without time/date fields) it’s a data discovery tool, not a chart designing tool

All these are of course “experimental hypothesis” that we can now test and research (and already collecting lots of useful feedback :) ).

And stay tuned, we will be releasing some new features this week ;).

Download here & get us some feedback.

http://www.devscope.net/products/SmartCharts

Finishing this post with a few typical usage scenarios…

… these are from real data , loaded the app with different tables I regularly check (clickstream logs, usage logs, etl logs, ssas query logs,…)

(some values masked, sorry!)

Integration load resource usage (~80k rows dataset)

(side note that the first time I loaded this data on the app I immediately found that I was completely unaware on where integration load resources were being spent, and how that patterns were evolving over time)

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Integration loads vs extracted rows

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Drill down view of integration time over time

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Time of day patterns (integration times)

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Time of day patterns (rows extracted)

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Now a completely different dataset(120k rows), obtained from an analysis services query trace table log, instant insights: (again note that no modeling or chart designing was necessary…just click, load & explore)

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http://www.devscope.net/products/SmartCharts

Take care!

 

Rui