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Month: May 2014

Changes to Data Loading Features in Power Query – May 2014

The Power BI team continues to deliver new features at a rapid pace. The May 2014 release of Power Query is no exception. There are quite a few new features packed into this release, which you can read about at your leisure but I’m particularly interested in the ones pertaining to data loading, as I’ve discussed several of the limitation in this area in the past.

This release is major indeed. There are three significant changes to the data loading features in this build.

Configurable defaults for data loading

I’ve just posted an article on how to do this and why. To put it simply, the default data load behaviour is to load data into a worksheet in most cases. This leads to larger than necessary workbooks, to the point where they may not work properly with Power BI. Now you can change this default behaviour, which will be welcome for anyone doing serious data modeling.

Worksheet Size Warning

If you do decide that you want to load data to the worksheet, or you’re simply unaware of the issues, you will be prompted to consider loading to the data model once your data hits 10 MB, which is the maximum non-model workbook size in Power BI. Prior to this update, the user wouldn’t know that there was a problem until after they tried to use the workbook in Office 365.

Data Model Preservation

Prior to this update, it wasn’t possible to modify the query without losing all changes to the data model, or formatting in worksheet tables. This release of Power Query remedies this situation. You can now go back and make changes to your query without having to recreate the model.

Power BI is being built in a surprisingly collaborative way, with a large amount of input from the community. I’ve never seen this done to this extent at Microsoft, and it’s very good to see. I know that all of these features have been asked for and discussed by the community in the last few months, and here they are. Kudos to everyone involved, and keep it up. This product keeps getting better and better.

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Set Your Data Load Defaults in Power Query

When using Power Query to load data from a data source, the user has three choices as to where that data can be stored. It can go into a worksheet in the workbook, into the data model, or into both. The default behaviour (and therefore the one that will be used most commonly) is to load into a worksheet when one table is being imported, or into the data model when multiple tables are selected.

The reason for the load to worksheet default is understandable, as casual users will expect to see the data immediately after it is imported – they won’t want to open the PowerPivot model editor (which is itself turned off by default in Excel 2013). However, loading to the worksheet introduces quite a few limitations, as I’ve described (OK, whined about) mostly here, but also here and here. These limitations mostly revolve around the million row limit in Excel, the fact that data is stored in the model much more efficiently, and the file size limits when working with Power BI.

The great news is, that as of the May 2014 build of Power Query . These data loading defaults are now user configurable. If you’re taking the time to read this post, chances are that you should set them.

The defaults are Power Query wide, and are therefore located in the Power Query options. Once Excel is open,  go to the Power Query tab and click the Options button.


Now, in addition to joining the Customer Experience Program, you can set your data load settings. I always import only to the model, so I check the custom option, and Load to Data Model.


I can’t be completely sure, but in my limited testing, it appears that this option setting does not sync between instances of Excel on different machines the way that other (non add in) settings do. You will therefore need to set this for every Excel installation that you have. Now if there was only a Group Policy setting that could be pushed out….

Kudos to the Power Query team for implementing this – it’s a welcome addition to the product.

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