Dataflows are to ETL what Excel is to Programming
Microsoft has just introduced dataflows to Power BI service which they see as the next step in the self-service revolution Microsoft began with Excel. Dataflows incorporate the necessary ETL steps and allows other people to access and work with the dataflow. Think of dataflows as power query on steroids with the capability of multiple users to take advantage of a centralized ETL operation on data.
4 Features of Dataflows
1. Dataflows are created and managed directly in the Power BI Service, not Power BI desktop. This allows for scheduled refreshes of the data. Power BI Premium users can schedule incremental refreshes of data.
2. Power BI dataflows are designed to overcome the existing limitations of data prep in Power BI Desktop by allowing large-scale, complex and re-usable data prep done directly within Power BI service.
3. Dataflows is a complex system that can handle dozens of tables from many sources (multiple entitles) and perform rich sets of transformation on the data to cleanse, integrate and enrich it. Power BI Premium users can link entities from other dataflows.
4. Mapping to a standard entity. The common data service allows you to map the data table that is loaded to a standard entity.
Dataflows are still in the public preview mode. Here is a good introductory video from Guy in a Cube to dataflows. If you want a more in-depth look, Matthew Roche’s video gets more into the weeds of dataflows. The dataflows whitepaper can also be downloaded here.
Jon is a Microsoft Data Analytics Consultant at Beyond Impact.
With experience in cloud analytics solutions, Power BI, and personalized analytics training,
he is an expert in tackling challenging business problems with data.