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Visualize Live Airtable Data in the Power BI Service

Use the CData Cloud Hub to create a virtual SQL Server database for Airtable data and create custom reports in the Power BI Service.

Power BI transforms your company's data into rich visuals for you to collect and organize so you can focus on what matters to you. When paired with the CData Cloud Hub, you get instant access to Airtable data for visualizations, dashboards, and more. This article shows how to build and publish a dataset from Airtable data in Power BI and then create reports on Airtable data in the Power BI service.

The CData Cloud Hub provides a pure SQL interface for Airtable, allowing you to easily build reports from live Airtable data in Power BI — with no need to replicate the data. As you build visualizations, Power BI generates SQL queries to gather data. Using optimized data processing out of the box, the CData Cloud Hub pushes all supported SQL operations (filters, JOINs, etc) directly to Airtable, leveraging server-side processing to quickly return Airtable data.

NOTE: You can also import Airtable data into Power BI through the Cloud Hub (instead of using the on-premise gateway). Read how in the related Knowledge Base article.

Create a Virtual SQL Database for Airtable Data

CData Cloud Hub uses a straightforward, point-and-click interface to connect to data sources and generate APIs.

  1. Login to Cloud Hub and click Databases.
  2. Select "Airtable" from Available Data Sources.
  3. Enter the necessary authentication properties to connect to Airtable.

    APIKey, BaseId and TableNames parameters are required to connect to Airtable. ViewNames is an optional parameter where views of the tables may be specified.

    • APIKey : API Key of your account. To obtain this value, after logging in go to Account. In API section click Generate API key.
    • BaseId : Id of your base. To obtain this value, it is in the same section as the APIKey. Click on Airtable API, or navigate to https://airtable.com/api and select a base. In the introduction section you can find "The ID of this base is appxxN2ftedc0nEG7."
    • TableNames : A comma separated list of table names for the selected base. These are the same names of tables as found in the UI.
    • ViewNames : A comma separated list of views in the format of (table.view) names. These are the same names of the views as found in the UI.
  4. Click Test Database.
  5. Click Privileges -> Add and add the new user (or an existing user) with the appropriate permissions.

Connecting to the Cloud Hub from Power BI

To connect to and visualize live Airtable data in the Power BI service), install the on-premises data gateway, add a data source to the gateway from the Power BI service, and publish a dataset from Power BI Desktop to the service.

Install the On-Premises Data Gateway

The Microsoft on-premises data gateway provides secure data transfer between connected data sources and various cloud-based Microsoft tools and platforms. You can read more about the gateway in the Microsoft documentation.

You can download and install the gateway from the Power BI service:

  1. Log in to PowerBI.com.
  2. Click the Download menu and click Data Gateway.
  3. Follow the instructions for installation, making note of the name of the gateway.

Add Airtable as a Data Source to the Power BI Service

Once you have installed the data gateway, you add the Cloud Hub as a data source to the Power BI service:

  1. Log in to PowerBI.com.
  2. Click the Settings menu and click "Manage gateways."
  3. Click "ADD DATA SOURCE" and configure the connection to the Cloud Hub:

    • Set Data Source Name CloudHub_Airtable.
    • Choose SQL Server as the Data Source Type.
    • Set Server to the address of your Cloud Hub instance (i.e.: myinstance.cdatacloud.net).
    • Set Database to the name of your virtual Airtable database (i.e.: airtabledb).
    • Set Authentication Method to Basic.
    • Set Username and Password to Cloud Hub credentials.

Publish a Dataset from Power BI Desktop

With the gateway installed and the Cloud Hub added as a datasource to the Power BI service, you can publish a dataset from Power BI Desktop to the service.

  1. Open Power BI, click Get Data -> More, then select SQL Server database, and click Connect.
  2. Set the connection properties and click OK.
    • Set Server to the address of your Cloud Hub instance (i.e.: myinstance.cdatacloud.net).
    • Set Database to the name of your virtual Airtable database (i.e.: airtabledb).
    • Set Data Connectivity mode to DirectQuery*.
    * DirectQuery enables live query processing and real-time visualizations of Airtable data.
  3. In the authentication wizard, select Database, set the User name and Password properties, and click Connect.
  4. Select the table(s) to visualize in the Navigator dialog.
  5. In the Query Editor, you can customize your dataset by filtering, sorting, and summarizing Airtable columns. Click Edit to open the query editor. Right-click a row to filter the rows. Right-click a column header to perform actions like the following:

    • Change column data types
    • Remove a column
    • Group by columns

    Power BI detects each column's data type from the Airtable metadata reported by the Cloud Hub.

    Power BI records your modifications to the query in the Applied Steps section, adjusting the underlying data retrieval query that is executed to the remote Airtable data. When you click Close and Apply, Power BI executes the data retrieval query.

    Otherwise, click Load to pull the data into Power BI.

  6. Define any relationships between the selected entities on the Relationships tab.
  7. Click Publish (from the Home menu) and select a Workspace.

Build Reports and Dashboards on Airtable Data in the Power BI Service

Now that you have published a dataset to the Power BI service, you can create new reports and dashboards based on the published data:

  1. Log in to PowerBI.com.
  2. Click Workspaces and select a workspace.
  3. Click Create and select Report.
  4. Select the published dataset for the report.
  5. Choose fields and visualizations to add to your report.

SQL Access to Airtable Data from Cloud Applications

Now you have a direct connection to live Airtable data from the Power BI service. You can create more data sources and new visualizations, build reports, and more — all without replicating Airtable data.

To get SQL data access to 100+ SaaS, Big Data, and NoSQL sources directly from your cloud applications, see the CData Cloud Hub.