Abstract and encapsulate with Power BI and SQL Server Table-Valued Functions – Use Case 2: Change results based on a database point in time and a user defined parameter

This is the second article  in which I cover different use cases for using SQL Server Table-Valued Functions with Power BI.

In the previous article I showed you how a table valued function can be used to hide lower levels of a hierarchy based on user id. This is handy if you need to prevent certain users from breaking down aggregate measures while interacting with a report or dashboard in Power BI.

In this article I will show you how you can use table valued functions to filter the results based on a date range stored in your database and allow the report author to control how many years of data to bring back with an optional input parameter.


Use case 2: Change results based on time

This use case comes in handy if you want your results to be filtered based on a date and time in your database and not on the date time of your Power BI users. This situation may occur in a globally distributed system in which Power BI users and the database they are querying are located in different time zones or in situations where the data lags behind the current date/time of your users. I will cover a situation where you want the data set to only show data up to a point in time stored in your database.

Using the Wide World Importers sample database suppose you wanted to limit the orders that a person can report on to the last year in which there were orders in the database. Run the following query.

USE WideWorldImportersDW

MIN([Order Date Key]) AS [Earliest Order Date]
, MAX([Order Date Key]) AS [Latetest Order Date]

As you can see from the results, we have orders from 2013 up to 2016. If we were to use the Power BI relative date slicer and set it to only show data from the past 1 year we would not see any results because the Power BI relative date slicer is based on today’s date April 6, 2019 and not on a date in the database. One way to overcome this problem is to use SQL Server Table-valued functions and encapsulate the logic to only show orders from June 1 2015 to May 31 2016. To do this will create a new function using the code below.

Create Function

Run the following code in the Wide World Importers database to create a new function. We are including an optional parameter so that the report author can change how many years they want to go back when they connect to the data.

--DROP FUNCTION dbo.ufn_Orders_PastYear

CREATE FUNCTION dbo.ufn_Orders_PastYear(@NumberOfYears INT = NULL)
WideWorldImportersDW.Fact.[Order] ord
ord.[Order Date Key]
(SELECT DATEADD(year, -ISNULL(@NumberOfYears, 1), MAX([Order Date Key])) FROM WideWorldImportersDW.Fact.[Order])
(SELECT MAX([Order Date Key]) FROM WideWorldImportersDW.Fact.[Order])

Notice that I negate the number of years by adding a negative sign in front of the ISNULL function in the select statement, this is to simplify the report authoring experience with using this function. Next, we will make a DirectQuery connection to the function using Power BI.

Connect with Power BI

Similar to before connect to the SQL Server database using a DirectQuery connection and select the function ufn_Orders_PastYear from the list of database objects.

As you can see in the image above the function parameter @NumberOfYears appears in Power BI as an optional parameter. If you leave it blank and click apply it will pull back 1 year’s worth of data based on what is available in the database. You can enter in your own number to control how many years back you query the Orders fact table. Incorporating parameters is a very powerful way to give the report author control of the results.

Once the data has been loaded in let’s visualize it using a simple bar chart.

Your results should look like the following image below.

As you can see in the chart we only have data from 2015 to 2016. To make the chart a bit easier to read lets add a proper date hierarchy. We will need to build it because we are using a DirectQuery to access the data so the autogenerated date hierarchies are not available, those are only created when you import data into Power BI and set the data type to be a date.

Create Year Column

Create a new calculated column and use the following DAX code to pull out the year value from the Order Date Key field.

OrderYear = Year([Order Date Key])

Create Month Columns

Next, we will create two month columns one will be used to sort and the other will be used to display the month name on the report.

Use the following DAX code to create a new month number calculated column.

OrderMonth = Month([Order Date Key])

Now create a new calculated column to store the month name using the following DAX code.

Order Month Name = 
    1, "January",
    2, "February",
    3, "March",
    4, "April",
    5, "May",
    6, "June",
    7, "July",
    8, "August",
    9, "September",
    10, "October",
    11, "November",
    12, "December"

Now we need to set the sort by column property of the Order Month Name to use the value of the OrderMonth column. To do this navigate to the model viewer and click on the Order Month Name field and then set the Sort by column to OrderMonth.

Now we will create a new Hierarchy based on OrderYear and Order Month Name.

Click on the chart and the Axis value with the new hierarchy we just created. Drill down a level to see the years and months.

As you can see this makes the chart much easier to read. Now lets insert some new data into the table and refresh the report.

Add some data

Run the following SQL to create new Date and Order records.

INSERT INTO [Dimension].[Date]
,[Day Number]
,[Short Month]
,[Calendar Month Number]
,[Calendar Month Label]
,[Calendar Year]
,[Calendar Year Label]
,[Fiscal Month Number]
,[Fiscal Month Label]
,[Fiscal Year]
,[Fiscal Year Label]
,[ISO Week Number])
INSERT INTO [Fact].[Order]
([City Key]
,[Customer Key]
,[Stock Item Key]
,[Order Date Key]
,[Picked Date Key]
,[Salesperson Key]
,[Picker Key]
,[WWI Order ID]
,[WWI Backorder ID]
,[Unit Price]
,[Tax Rate]
,[Total Excluding Tax]
,[Tax Amount]
,[Total Including Tax]
,[Lineage Key])
,’April Fools ain’t no joke’

Refresh the report and notice how it updates so that it only has one column.

This is because there is only 1 record from March 2018 until April 2019.

Combining SQL Server database functions with Power BI is a powerful way to abstract and encapsulate logic in the database thus simplifying the report authors job and ensuring the right data is presented to report consumers.

Hopefully you have found this to be another practical post.

Until next time.


Extend your information reach without over stretching by virtualizing data using SQL Server 2019 and MongoDB – Part 3 Setup Polybase

This is the third post in a series in which I explain how to use Polybase to connect SQL Server to Mongo DB in order to have a modern data ecosystem that caters to both structured and unstructured data. By leveraging Polybase you can centralize access without moving data and deliver a beast of breed solution for all of your data needs.

In my previous post I walked through how to spin up a SQL Server 2019 Azure VM and install Polybase. In this post I will show you how to setup Polybase to access a collection in MongoDB. This is the glue between MongoDB and SQL Server 2019. Conceptually this is the arrow in the diagram below.

First, I will show you how to setup an unsecure connection and then I will show you how to secure it with basic authentication.

Verify that MongoDB is up and running

Confirm that Mongo DB is up and running. As specified in my prior article you can use Studio 3T to connect or you can tunnel directly in using SSH and connect to MongoDB through PuTTY. If you shutdown the VM you will need to restart MongoDB using the command.

sudo service mongod restart

To run this command you will need to use PuTTY to tunnel in. Details on how to do this can be found in this article.

Configure polybase

Connect to the SQL Server instance. You can RDP into the VM or connect in from your local workstation. I connected in directly from my laptop using Azure Data Studio a nice light weight database tool.

Enable Polybase

Once connected you will need to turn on Polybase. Execute the following command in the MASTER database.

exec sp_configure @configname = 'polybase enabled', @configvalue =1;


Create Database

Next you will need to create a database. Execute the following SQL command to create a database called TEST.



The following commands all need to be executed in the new Test database that was just created with the command above.

Create External Data Source

Now you will need to create an external data source. I called mine MongoDBSource.


Make sure that you modify the LOCATION parameter so that you specify the IP or name of the server that is running MongoDB.

Also you will need to add the CONNECTION_OPTIONS = ‘ssl=false;’ otherwise you will see the following error when you try to create the External Table.

Msg 105082, Level 16, State 1, Line 22

105082;Generic ODBC error: [Microsoft][MongoDBODBC] (110) Error from MongoDB Client: No suitable servers found (`serverSelectionTryOnce` set): [connection closed calling ismaster on ‘’] (Error Code: 13053) Additional error <2>: ErrorMsg: [Microsoft][MongoDBODBC] (110) Error from MongoDB Client: No suitable servers found (`serverSelectionTryOnce` set): [connection closed calling ismaster on ‘’] (Error Code: 13053), SqlState: HY000, NativeError: 110 .

Create External Table

The last thing we need to do is create an external table.

[_id] NVARCHAR(24),
[x] FLOAT(53)

Common errors

If you try to implicitly convert the [x] FLOAT(53) column to an int you will see the following error.

Msg 105083, Level 16, State 1, Line 24

105083;The following columns in the user defined schema are incompatible with the external table schema for table ‘Test2’: user defined column type: ([x] INT) vs. detected external table column type: ([x] FLOAT(53)). The detected external table schema is: ([_id] NVARCHAR(24) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NOT NULL, [x] FLOAT(53))

This is because SQL Server requires a schema on read with strong type casting.

In addition, if you try to create the table without all of the “columns” that reside in the collection by using the following SQL command.

TABLE Test2(
 [x] FLOAT(53)

You will get the following error.

Msg 105075, Level 16, State 1, Line 24

105075;The user specified schema column count is 1, which varies from the external table schema column count of 2. The detected external table schema is: ([_id] NVARCHAR(24) COLLATE SQL_Latin1_General_CP1_CI_AS NOT NULL, [x] FLOAT(53))

Again, this is because the current version of PolyBase in SQL Server requires a table structure that matches the collection structure in MongoDB.

Once the table is created you can query it just as you would any other table in SQL Server.

Select *
from [dbo].[Test]

Your results should look similar to the image below.

By default the PUSHDOWN predicate is applied so that the MongoDB is used for query execution allowing for optimum performance by distributing the compute to the best location/technology for the job.

Next let’s add some basic authentication so that our connection is a bit more secure.

Securing the connection with basic Authentication

Using PuTTY log back in the MongoDB VM. Once connected to the VM log into MongoDB by typing in the following command.


Once in the MongoDB shell execute the following command.

use test
user: “mytestuser”,
pwd: “mytestuser”,
roles: [ { role: “readWrite”, db: “test” } ]

You should see the following response if the command is successful.

Successfully added user:
 "user" : "mytestuser",
 "pwd" : "mytestuser",
 "roles" : [
 "role" : "readWrite",
 "db" : " test "

This creates a user called mytestuser with the password mytestuser. You should probably use a more secure id and password but this is sufficient for the purposes of this article.

Enable authentication in MongoDB

Exit out of Mongo and run the following command.

sudo nano /etc/mongod.conf

Modify the configuration file by adding the tag authorization: enabled under the security section.

Exit and save the config file and then restart mongo.

sudo service mongod restart

Modify SQL Server

Now that we have made the necessary changes in MongoDB we need to add authentication information in SQL Server.

Log into SQL Server and create a master key. Execute the following SQL command to create a master key.



Next create a database scoped credential.

WITH IDENTITY ='mytestuser', SECRET = 'mytestuser';


As you can see in the command above the IDENTITY and SECRET must match the user and pwd in the MongoDB command we used to create the user.

Last, we will drop and recreate the external data source and table using the following commands.


  LOCATION = 'mongodb://', 
  CONNECTION_OPTIONS = 'ssl=false;'


--Notice how the CREDENTIAL argument has been added to the create command above.

[_id] NVARCHAR(24),
[x] FLOAT(53)

Now you are using an account to access the database in MongoDB. The next step would be to enable SSL in MongoDB so that the CONNECTION_OPTIONS ‘ssl=false;’ can be removed and a secure connection established between SQL Server and MongoDB. The details on how to do it is beyond the scope of this article for instructions on how to enable SSL in MongoDB you can refer to the following guide.


The setup that I have documented in this series can be done on premise or in the cloud using VMs as I have done.

Hopefully you have found this to be another practical post.

Until next time.



Transforming data into value one blog post at a time



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My name is Anthony Bulk and I am passionate about making data useful. Whether it’s through data storytelling, business intelligence, artificial intelligence or data storage I will cover it all.

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Last updated March 15, 2019.

Instant insight, automation and action using Power Apps, Power BI, Flow and Azure Machine Learning

Extend your information reach without over stretching by virtualizing data using SQL Server 2019 and MongoDB

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