Visualize Live XML Data in the Power BI Service

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CData Connect



Use CData Connect Cloud to create a virtual SQL Server database for XML 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 CData Connect Cloud, you get instant access to XML data for visualizations, dashboards, and more. This article shows how to build and publish a dataset from XML data in Power BI and then create reports on XML data in the Power BI service.

CData Connect Cloud provides a pure SQL interface for XML, allowing you to easily build reports from live XML 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, CData Connect Cloud pushes all supported SQL operations (filters, JOINs, etc) directly to XML, leveraging server-side processing to quickly return XML data.

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

Create a Virtual SQL Database for XML Data

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

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

    See the Getting Started chapter in the data provider documentation to authenticate to your data source: The data provider models XML APIs as bidirectional database tables and XML 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 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 XML 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 XML 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.

  4. Click Test Database.
  5. Click Privileges -> Add and add the new user (or an existing user) with the appropriate permissions.

Connecting to Connect Cloud from Power BI

To connect to and visualize live XML 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 XML as a Data Source to the Power BI Service

Once you have installed the data gateway, you add Connect Cloud 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 Connect Cloud:

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

Publish a Dataset from Power BI Desktop

With the gateway installed and Connect Cloud 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 Connect Cloud instance (i.e.: myinstance.cdatacloud.net).
    • Set Database to the name of your virtual XML database (i.e.: xmldb).
    • Set Data Connectivity mode to DirectQuery*.
    * DirectQuery enables live query processing and real-time visualizations of XML 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 XML 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 XML metadata reported by Connect Cloud.

    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 XML 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 XML 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 XML Data from Cloud Applications

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

To get SQL data access to 200+ SaaS, Big Data, and NoSQL sources directly from your cloud applications, see the CData Connect Cloud.