Power BI Tips and Tricks

Are Power BI ‘Quick Measure’ an alternate to writing DAX formulas

All those who have spent significant time with Power BI know the importance of DAX. The purpose of Business Intelligence is to communicate the insights derived from the data to enable informed business decision making. However, it is not as simple as it sounds. The data is usually raw and transactional in nature which in itself does not communicate much to draw insights; therefore, mutliple mathematical calculations on data is often required to achieve consolidation and a meaningful insight.

Measures in the Business Intelligence tool -Power BI plays an imporatnt role by helping you to create parameters or in simple terms calculations that can be added to the visualisations to communicate required information; such as, Sales till date, Total Sales last year, Sales in a particular region etc. The possibility is endless; however, there is a twist to the tale!!!

Measures are created using DAX (Data Analysis Expression) functions. Although DAX functions look quite similar to excel functions but the way DAX works is often different. It is also important to know the DAX functions and their exact behaiour for creating measures because DAX under different context can give different result.

Although DAX is not considered to be difficult to learn but for beginners and new business users of Power BI , it may feel intimidating and a hurdle. Measures are essential and building blocks of a visualisation and cannot be created without DAX formulas.

Before you get worried about learning all DAX functions for creating your first report in Power BI, take a respite that Power BI has a quick and easy way of creating measures without writing DAX formulas — ‘ Quick Measure’, which are pre-defined DAX templates for common calculations

These ‘Quick Measure’ are DAX templates which help to create measures using the fields/parameters chosen by the user. You can create measures based on 27 different calculations across six different categories.

Creating a Measure using Quick Measure:

In my example, I have used Contoso dataset and created a measure ‘Average Sales by distribution Channel’ using the ‘Quick Measure’. Select the quick measure — Average per Category and select fields/ parameters in the the Base Value and Category dropdowns . Once you save it, the DAX formula is automatically written by Power BI and the masure is created.

From the screenshot above it can be seen that the measure ‘ Avg Sales by distribution Channel’ is created without writing a single line of code. The created measure can then be modified manually to create a different measure and can also be used to create more complex measures.

Do not be misguided here!! Creating measure in Power BI using ‘Quick Measure’ has definitely made it easier for beginners or business users to create measures without the knowledge of DAX. However, in your business scenario, you may be required to use DAX for calculations that can not be acheived through these generic DAX templates.

It is important to realise that learning DAX cannot be ignored by Power BI users and the ‘ Quick Measure’ cannot be used as an alternate to learning to create measures using DAX. Hence, to maximise the insight generated by your data and to enhance your data analysis skill using Power BI, it is essential to continue to work towards the goal of learning to use DAX effectively.



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