Introduction to R Visualizations with Power BI

Meetup Video


Microsoft’s Power BI is a powerful technology for quickly creating rich visualizations. Power BI has many practical uses for the modern data professional including executive dashboards, operational dashboards, and visualizations for data exploration/analysis.

Microsoft has also extended Power BI with support for incorporating R visualizations into Power BI projects, enabling a myriad of data visualization use cases across all industries and circumstances. As such, Power BI is an extremely valuable tool for any Data Analyst, Product/Program Manager, or Data Scientist to have in their tool belt.

At the meetup for this topic presenter David Langer showed how Power BI can be extended using R visualizations to achieve analyses that are difficult, or not possible, to achieve with out of the box Power BI features.

A primary focus of the talk were a number of “gotchas” to be aware of when using R Visualizations within Power BI projects:

  • Power BI limits data passed to R visualizations to 150,000 rows.
  • Power BI automatically removes duplicate rows before passing data to Power BI.
  • Power BI allows for permissive column names that can cause difficulties in R code.

David also covered best practices for using R visualizations within Power BI projects, including using R tools like RStudio or Visual Studio R Tools to make R visualization development faster. A particularly interesting aspect of the talk was how to engineer R code to allow for copy-and-paste from RStudio into Power BI.

The talk concluded with examples of how R visualizations can be incorporated into a Power BI project to allow for robust, statistically valid analyses of aggregated business data. The following visualization is an example from the talk:

Power BI Process Behavior

About the Meetup

In this presentation hosted by Data Science Dojo, David Langer discussed:
• Understanding the nuances of how Power BI integrates with R, including necessary data pre-processing.
• Incorporating R visualizations into Power BI projects.
• A brief introduction to the R ggplot2 visualization package.
• A brief introduction to the R dplyr data wrangling package.
• Making R visualizations dynamic by responding to Power BI UX controls.
• How to engineer your R code for a cut-and-paste experience into Power BI.

About the Speaker

David is a veteran BI, analytics, and data science professional. He is currently the VP of Data Science at Data Science Dojo, focusing on growing the educational services practice. Previously, David was a Sr. Director for BI and Analytics at Microsoft where he managed a team that owned the mission-critical data platforms used to run Microsoft’s $10+ Billion supply chain. David’s current passions are text analytics, event log mining, and mathematical programming. David holds a MS in Computer Science and a BA in Economics from the University of Washington.

For more videos and tutorials by David, visit his youtube channel.

Source Code

David’s source code can be viewed and cloned from the Data Science Dojo GitHub meetup repository. Installation instructions for all data and software (e.g., which R packages are required) are available via the README file.