Author Power BI Reports on Real-Time REST Data

Use the CData Power BI Connector for REST to visualize REST data in Power BI.

CData Power BI Connectors provide self-service integration with Microsoft Power BI. The CData Power BI Connector for REST links your Power BI reports to real-time REST data. You can monitor REST data through dashboards and ensure that your analysis reflects REST data in real time by scheduling refreshes or refreshing on demand. This article details how to use the Power BI Connector to create real-time visualizations of REST data in Microsoft Power BI Desktop.

If you are interested in publishing reports on REST data to PowerBI.com, refer to our other Knowledge Base article.

Collaborative Query Processing

The CData Power BI Connectors offer unmatched performance for interacting with live REST data in Power BI due to optimized data processing built into the connector. When you issue complex SQL queries from Power BI to REST, the connector pushes supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to REST and utilizes the embedded SQL Engine to process unsupported operations (often SQL functions and JOIN operations) client-side. With built-in dynamic metadata querying, you can visualize and analyze REST data using native Power BI data types.

Connect to REST as a Power BI Data Source

Installing the Power BI Connector creates a DSN (data source name) called CData Power BI REST. This the name of the DSN that Power BI uses to request a connection to the data source. Configure the DSN by filling in the required connection properties.

You can use the Microsoft ODBC Data Source Administrator to create and configure the DSN: From the Start menu, enter "ODBC Data Sources" and select the CData PowerBI REST DSN. Ensure that you run the version of the ODBC Administrator that corresponds to the bitness of your Power BI Desktop installation (32-bit or 64-bit). You can also use run the ConfigureODBC.exe tool located in the installation folder for the connector.

See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation to authenticate to your data source: The data provider models REST APIs as bidirectional database tables and XML/JSON files as read-only views (local files, files stored on popular cloud services, and FTP servers). The major authentication schemes are supported, including HTTP Basic, Digest, NTLM, OAuth, and FTP. See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation for authentication guides.

After setting the URI and providing any authentication values, set Format to "XML" or "JSON" and set DataModel to more closely match the data representation to the structure of your data.

The DataModel property is the controlling property over how your data is represented into tables and toggles the following basic configurations.

  • Document (default): Model a top-level, document view of your REST data. The data provider returns nested elements as aggregates of data.
  • FlattenedDocuments: Implicitly join nested documents and their parents into a single table.
  • Relational: Return individual, related tables from hierarchical data. The tables contain a primary key and a foreign key that links to the parent document.

See the Modeling REST Data chapter for more information on configuring the relational representation. You will also find the sample data used in the following examples. The data includes entries for people, the cars they own, and various maintenance services performed on those cars.

Query REST Tables

Follow the steps below to build a query to pull REST data into the report:

  1. Open Power BI Desktop and click Get Data -> Other -> CData REST.
  2. Select CData PowerBI REST in the Data Source Name menu and select a data connectivity mode:
    Select Import if you want to import a copy of the data into your project. You can refresh this data on demand.
    Select DirectQuery if you want to work with the remote data.
  3. Select tables in the Navigator dialog.
  4. In the Query Editor, you can customize your dataset by filtering, sorting, and summarizing REST 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 REST metadata retrieved by the connector.

    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 REST data. When you click Close and Apply, Power BI executes the data retrieval query.

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

Create Data Visualizations

After pulling the data into Power BI, you can create data visualizations in the Report view by dragging fields from the Fields pane onto the canvas. Follow the steps below to create a pie chart:

  1. Select the pie chart icon in the Visualizations pane.
  2. Select a dimension in the Fields pane: for example, [ personal.name.first ].
  3. Select a measure in the Fields pane: for example, [ personal.name.last ].

You can change sort options by clicking the ellipsis (...) button for the chart. Options to select the sort column and change the sort order are displayed.

You can use both highlighting and filtering to focus on data. Filtering removes unfocused data from visualizations; highlighting dims unfocused data. You can highlight fields by clicking them:

You can apply filters at the page level, at the report level, or to a single visualization by dragging fields onto the Filters pane. To filter on the field's value, select one of the values that are displayed in the Filters pane.

Click Refresh to synchronize your report with any changes to the data.

At this point, you will have a Power BI report built on top of live REST data. Learn more about the CData Power BI Connectors for REST and download a free trial from the REST Power BI Connector page. Let our Support Team know if you have any questions.