Author Power BI Reports on Real-Time USPS Data

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

CData Power BI Connectors provide self-service integration with Microsoft Power BI. The CData Power BI Connector for USPS links your Power BI reports to real-time USPS data. You can monitor USPS data through dashboards and ensure that your analysis reflects USPS 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 USPS data in Microsoft Power BI Desktop.

If you are interested in publishing reports on USPS 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 USPS data in Power BI due to optimized data processing built into the connector. When you issue complex SQL queries from Power BI to USPS, the connector pushes supported SQL operations, like filters and aggregations, directly to USPS 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 USPS data using native Power BI data types.

Connect to USPS as a Power BI Data Source

Installing the Power BI Connector creates a DSN (data source name) called CData Power BI USPS. 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.

To authenticate with USPS, set the following connection properties.

  • PostageProvider: The postage provider to use to process requests. Available options are ENDICIA and STAMPS. If unspecified, this property will default to ENDICIA.
  • UseSandbox: This controls whether live or test requests are sent to the production or sandbox servers. If set to true, the Password, AccountNumber, and StampsUserId properties are ignored.
  • StampsUserId: This value is used for logging into authentication to the Stamps servers. This value is not applicable for Endicia and is optional if UseSandbox is true.
  • Password: This value is used for logging into Endicia and Stamps servers. If the postage provider is Endicia, this will be the pass phrase associated with your postage account. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
  • AccountNumber: The shipper's account number. It is optional if UseSandbox is true.
  • PrintLabelLocation: This property is required to use the GenerateLabels or GenerateReturnLabels stored procedures. This should be set to the folder location where generated labels should be stored.

The Cache Database

Many of the useful task available from USPS require a lot of data. To ensure this data is easy to input and recall later, utilize a cache database to make requests. Set the cache connection properties in order to use the cache:

  • CacheLocation: The path to the cache location, for which a connection will be configured with the default cache provider. For example, C:\users\username\documents\uspscache

As an alternative to CacheLocation, set the combination of CacheConnection and CacheProvider to configure a cache connection using a provider separate from the default.

Query USPS Tables

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

  1. Open Power BI Desktop and click Get Data -> Other -> CData USPS.
  2. Select CData PowerBI USPS 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 USPS 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 USPS 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 USPS 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, FirstName.
  3. Select a measure in the Fields pane: for example, Phone.

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 USPS data. Learn more about the CData Power BI Connectors for USPS and download a free trial from the USPS Power BI Connector page. Let our Support Team know if you have any questions.