By Power BI Team

Over the past month, the Q&A team has been working on some cool projects to showcase its power and how it stands out from other query engines. We are still a bit ways from being as intelligent as Batman’s batcomputer but before you know it, we’ll be able to answer questions before companies even need them answered.

Why is Q&A the future of query? The obvious reason is that we use natural human language rather than a computer language (ex. SQL), and the important differentiator from other query languages is that we bring back interactive visual results. A plus point is that Q&A improves on a monthly basis (avoiding normal shipping cycle obstacles) as it is a cloud-based solution. The last piece of Q&A which makes it stand out is that it can be customized to fit your needs and questions through the use of the cloud-modeling environment.

With Cloud modeling, you’ll be able to ask questions like:

Which player scored the most unassisted goals per world cup

Who are the diving medalists from China and what is their medal count

Which player has received a yellow card and scored 2 goals in the same game

How does Q&A know what an unassisted goal is? Or that players score? Or that athletes from a particular country can be medalists in a specific sport? Cloud Modeling

Getting Started with Cloud Modeling

You are here:

You have a few models enabled, and you want to use Q&A. Your first thought may be to just click on the “Ask with Power BI Q&A” link because your workbook has a relational model already created. However, you can optimize your workbook further to be able to answer more relevant and exciting questions.

To optimize for Cloud modeling, here is the documentation that will bring you to the cloud modeling environment. (To get you started, click on the gear next to your user profile pic in the upper right, then Power BI Site Settings)

Then select Q&A and the file you want to optimize

You’ll land in the following menu where you can start optimizing your model for Q&A

In the following, we explain the importance of cloud modeling. If you want to dive into making phrasings yourself right now, read the Q&A Cloud Modeling Documentation. Read more to find out how to make very interesting, intriguing, and exciting questions.

Few Tips:

  • Try asking questions on Q&A first to see if they work or not. If they don’t, you will have a clear focus on which phrasing you should create.
  • When you start typing in a phrasing, look at the suggestions to see what kind of phrasing you are going for.

Importance of Cloud Modeling

After you have created your Power Pivot model and optimized it as much as possible before uploading it to Power BI (see Demystifying Power BI Q&A Part 1 | 2), the model is ready for Q&A. By looking at the relational diagram, we have already generated some phrasings for you so that basic queries will work. For example, if you had sales data with a Customers table and State and Customer Name were two columns, we would automatically generate the phrasing “Customer name is the name of Customer” so that you could ask, “Show Pennsylvania customers”.

However, if you had another table Orders with columns like Product, Price, Date Bought, Customer ID (relating back to the Customer table), and you wanted to ask, “what products did Pennsylvania customers buy?”), Q&A wouldn’t know what to do with that statement. It would be similar to an invalid SQL statement. Luckily, you can use cloud modeling to make that query work whereas in SQL, you may have to wait for the next version or completely change up your relational model.

In, the cloud-modeling environment, explained here on how to use it, you could create a phrasing “customers buy products”. Magically, that query will now work!

Another example, one that is more specific, would be what if you were a small bakery that wanted to see what items to have on your seasonal display showcase. You had a database of ingredients and their respective prices. If you just wanted to know, “show expensive ingredients”, you could create a phrasing to define what expensive meant….for you! As a small bakery, maybe ingredients that are $26/lb are expensive, but for a bigger bakery, ingredients that are $40/lb are considered expensive. Depending on the needs of your company, you can tailor Q&A to give you the most pertinent visuals that relate to you. And this customization is endless using the various phrasings described here.

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