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Are Dataflows useful without Premium Capacity?

Hello all,

I’d like to start a discussion about how Dataflows could be useful without purchasing Premium Capacity.

I have attempted to use Dataflows a few times, but I always run into limitations that require Premium. These paywalls are difficult to work around because any query that requires in-memory compute (“Computed Entity”) is not allowed.

I’m not sure I fully understand the use cases of Dataflows, because most of what I’ve attempted requires some transformations that I’m not allowed. They are a tool I haven’t used properly, so I would be interested to know how others have found value.

Weigh in if you are using Dataflows; what types of data sources do you use them for? What transforms are you using? How have you avoided the dreaded “Computed Entities”?

Here is the documentation | Also, “Computed Entities”


I haven’t used dataflows, so don’t have anything substantive to contribute to this thread, but I did remember seeing this informative post from @Melissa, which does provide some information that seems relevant to your questions:

  • Brian
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@CStaich I have just switched my reporting to using dataflows, and I love it - and we do not have Premium Capacity. I am reporting out of a Dynamics NAV database, and connecting the dataflow through a Gateway that our IT team set up on PowerBI.

I have dataflows for different types of entities - and then connect the dataflows together in PowerBI to build my reporting dataset. The part I really like about this is that my dataflows can refresh at different rates, reducing the strain on the server.

Example: I only refresh customer tables once a day, but sales tables are refreshed every 3 hours.
Sales team is told that new customers sales won’t show until the following day, and they are good with this.

If a particular dataflow fails, I only have a few tables in the flow that I have to review for errors.

Avoiding Computed Entities is an interesting trick - basically keep in mind that you cannot reference any table that you are going to load in the final output of the dataflow. So, as an example: in this dataflow, I have Item Unit of Measure table, and I need to merge it into the Item table, but I also need to return it to the final dataset for transformation against another table (not part of this dataflow).

So, I loaded Item Unit of Measure, and removed the “enable load” checkmark from that one.
I then was able to merge that table to my Item table. And rather than reload the Item Unit of Measure table, I simply referenced it for Item UoM

that is my work-around. :slight_smile:


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Without premium you can’t modify the data too much. For example, reference data doesn’t work if you don’t have premium.

Actually, you can reference data - you just can’t reference data that you are going to load to the dataflow.
To work around that, I pull in the table, and remove the load option - then merge it as needed for a table I am going to load.
Then I go back to the table that doesn’t have the load, and I reference it and make sure the new referenced table is marked to load to the dataflow.

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