Power BI Book Recommendations

FYI - SQLBI recently released the 2nd edition of DAX Patterns. I ordered the hard copy version and have been going through it since last Friday. IMO, it’s not an essential addition to your library (especially since they completely overhauled the daxpatterns.com website and put all the content up there for free), but it’s really well done and a big improvement (in terms of expanded content and readability) over the 1st edition. Some interesting new patterns worth taking a look at, including like-for-like, transition matrix and some expanded content on hierarchies.

  • Brian
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I am from a financial background and want to get certification in machine learning. Right now looking to get some basics to start with on my own. What are the good online resources to start with?

Thanks for the recommendations in advance.

@MudassirAli,

I haven’t taken it, but have heard great things about this course offered online for free by Stanford Univ:

  • Brian
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Thanks @BrianJ. Will try the course and will update on the forum about it.

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Here’s my take on all the various books out there, most of which I decided I needed at the time, but that has since changed. I think where you are on your journey is important to be aware of. If you are just starting out jumping in the Definitive Guide to DAX can be overwhelming, least in my view.

Just starting out:

  1. Power Pivot and Power BI: The Excel User’s Guide to DAX, Power Query, Power BI & Power Pivot in Excel 2010-2016 by Rob Collie. He does a great job of introducing you to the world of DAX without getting into the thick of it. May be a little outdated now, but the topics and theories are still applicable.

  2. M Is for (Data) Monkey: A Guide to the M Language in Excel Power Query by Ken Pus and Miguel Escobar. Written in the same fashion as #1 (less formal, more conversational) it provides someone just starting out a good starting point

  3. Power Query for Power BI and Excel by Chris Webb. Goes a little deeper that #2 above, but still relatively painless.

After getting through those I would then venture into more technical books:

  1. Definitive Guide to DAX, The: Business intelligence for Microsoft Power BI, SQL Server Analysis Services, and Excel by the SQLBI. Pretty much the bible of DAX. Anything and everything is included.

  2. The Data Warehouse Toolkit: The Definitive Guide to Dimensional Modeling, 3rd Edition The Definitive Guide to Dimensional Modeling by Ralph Kimball. While not PowerBI specific, this book is a tremendous help on how to set up a correct dimensional data model, of which DAX is optimized for.

  3. Analyzing Data with Power BI and Power Pivot for Excel by the SQLBI. Specific to Data Modeling, though I think having the knowledge from #2 above would be greatly beneficial, which is why I put it before this book

  4. Collect, Combine, and Transform Data Using Power Query in Excel and Power BI by Gil Raviv. Excellent book on PowerQuery and M.

Others books:

  1. DAX Patterns: Second Edition by SQLBI.

  2. Power BI MVP Book: A book of tricks and techniques for working with Power BI Has some interesting things in it, but I wouldn’t buy it again

  3. Pro Power BI Architecture: Sharing, Security, and Deployment Options for Microsoft Power BI Solutions by Reza Rad. My version was riddled with spelling errors/pages missing and generally just hard to follow. Wouldnt buy this again knowing what I know now

  4. Pro DAX with Power BI: Business Intelligence with PowerPivot and SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular by Phillip Seamark and Thomas Martens. Different way of looking at a lot of the same topics in other books. But sometimes that is helpful.

With all that being said, I got the most out of Sam’s course. I think it comes down to what type of learner you are. For me, I am visual so while reading it can help actually getting into helped alot more. Things can seem way to easy just reading in a book that you can start to think “oh, yeah, I can do that” till you are faced with a blank PBI file and have to go to work.

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A few more recommendations to add to the list:

I’ve gotten a lot of questions recently from folks who want to start incorporating statistical analysis using R into their Power BI reports. I am in the process of putting together a detailed list of R resources. However, before jumping into R, it’s critical to have a sound understanding of fundamental statistical concepts, including population vs. sample, data distributions, hypothesis testing, choosing the right test statistic, p values and interpreting results, parametric vs. nonparametric statistics, etc.

For developing this foundational knowledge for those without a statistics background, I am a huge fan of statistician and writer Jim Frost (https://statisticsbyjim.com/), who is able to convey these concepts in clear, plain English in a very readable style with lots of examples for the non-statistician. He currently has written three books, all of which I very highly recommend. The third one is available currently only as an e-book, but the hard copy for those of you like me who prefer to go old-school for your reference library is expected out later this month. I think anyone who worked their way through all three books would have a great foundation on which to incorporate sound statistical analysis into your reports.

Introduction to Statistics: An Intuitive Guide for Analyzing Data and Unlocking Discoveries, Jim Frost, August 2020.
Hypothesis Testing: An Intuitive Guide for Making Data Driven Decisions Paperback , Jim Frost, September 2020
Regression Analysis: An Intuitive Guide for Using and Interpreting Linear Models, Jim Frost, October 2020

Also, a couple of things about @Nick_M’s recommendation of The Data Warehouse Toolkit: The Definitive Guide to Dimensional Modeling, 3rd Edition by Ralph Kimball. On a recent, excellent interview on the SSBI Podcast, Marco Russo was asked what he thought the essential books for Power BI users were (other than his own). This book was the first one on his list.

However, the new 3rd edition is really expensive ($57 for hard copy). What I found though is that there are now tons of used copies of the 2nd edition available. The key concepts of dimensional modeling haven’t changed much over the years, so I went for a very good condition used copy of the 2nd edition for $6 plus shipping and saved myself almost $50 bucks.

  • Brian
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@BrianJ
This is exactly what I had been looking for to build good foundations in Statistics. Yes, you are right, it is important to have good understanding of statistical analysis before jumping into R language.
I had always felt that I am in the wrong field and had always wanted to be in Data Sciences plus Graphics Designing.
I guess it’s never too late to start doing what you really love.
Thanks a lot for the learning resources :+1:

I also recently picked up
Star Schema The Complete Reference 1st Edition by [Christopher Adamson]

I think it was like $25 or so at amazon and for purposes of PBI and such, is a great resource. If you have to chose, I would go with this book over an older Kimball book. But dont think you can go wrong either way.

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@Nick_M,

Thanks for the recommendation. I’m curious – how much actually changed between the second and third editions of the Kimball book?

  • Brian

No clue. When I was looking for stuff on dimensional modeling, everything came back to Kimball. So just bought the latest version. I’d imagine for PBI either version would be good as the basics probably havent changed all that much.

Not so much books to recommend but a site - http://www.packtpub.com

order ebooks, print books and videos but the best part -

black friday (at least the past few years) - every ebook/video $5.

The sales usually lasts through the start of the new year.

They also have a club with access to all e-material - $10/month, $99/year

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Ralph Kimball and Margy Ross co-authored the third edition of Ralph’s classic guide to dimensional modeling. It provides a complete collection of modeling techniques, beginning with fundamentals and gradually progressing through increasingly complex real-world case studies.

The book significantly enhances and expands upon the concepts and examples presented in the earlier editions of The Data Warehouse Toolkit.

New chapter with the “official” library of the Kimball dimensional modeling techniques
Expanded coverage of advanced dimensional modeling patterns for more complex real-world scenarios, including bridge tables for ragged variable depth hierarchies and multivalued attributes
Sample data warehouse bus matrices for 12 case studies
Enhanced slowly changing dimension techniques type 0 through 7
Recommended best practices for big data analytics
Guidance regarding collaborative, interactive dimensional modeling design sessions with business stakeholders
Updated overview of the Kimball DW/BI project lifecycle methodology
Comprehensive review of extract, transformation, and load (ETL) systems and design considerations, including 34 subsystems and techniques to populate dimensional models
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Fantastic book

@BrianJ
Just received the first 2 books but couldn’t find the third one in Amazon Canada . Time to dive into the world of Statistics.

@MudassirAli,

Third book is still just available only as an e-book. Publication expected in hardcopy later this month. I subscribe to his newsletter, so will post a message on the thread when the third book becomes available.

Please let me know what you think of the first two. I hope you enjoy them.

  • Brian
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Also not books, but your post about the Packt Black Friday sale (which I did not know about) reminded me of two other big Black Friday sales.

For those of you looking to supplement the eDNA training, SQLBi and Power Query Academy both run incredible discounts the week of Thanksgiving/Black Friday. Last year, I picked up both the full SQLBi DAX series and the full PQA series for a fraction of the original total cost.

  • Brian
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@MudassirAli and others interested,

Just got an update from Jim Frost that his third book in the series discussed above is now available in hardcopy through Amazon:

Regression Analysis: An Intuitive Guide for Using and Interpreting Linear Models , Jim Frost, October 2020

  • Brian
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@BrianJ
That’s awesome. I will have to buy the book now because
"I want to play in everyone else’s backyard"
:smile:

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Just my two cents here - What I liked about Kimball’s book are the chapters on different industries or business processes and the specific challenges they present to data warehouse designers. When I was taking data warehousing courses back in mid-2001 (when reporting via corporate data warehouses were hitting their stride), we used this book as part of the program. I still pick it up today when I’m trying to solve for specific modeling issues either in Power BI or Power Pivot. I would like to believe the updated version deals with the advanced topics of snowflaking (there’s a bit of that in my book version but more warnings than examples) a star schema or how and when to use a double star schema.
–Teresa B.

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The Greg Deckler book is pretty outstanding, some of his DAX gives me a sore head as I try to follow it haha! I love how the book is set up.