PowerPivot for Microsoft Excel 2010 – part one

PowerPivot for excel is a very powerful tool that enable users to create, store and present big amount of data without having any exceptional SQL writing skill or knowledge on databases, code writing and in the same time use the friendly and already known GUI of Excel. In this series of posts I will show you the basics of PowerPivot, how to install it, how to import data, how to create your first Gemini report, how to manipulate data (add new columns, using basic DAX – Data Analysis Expressions), etc. I just want to state at the beginning that I will explore only PowerPivot for Excel and will not refer to PowerPivot for Sharepoint which is basically the same thing but has its own specifics on delivering and designing reports.

So I will start with the installation. Before installing it consider the minimum requirements (those are for the current CTP:

  • Requires Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 Beta
  • PowerPivot for Excel supports 32-bit or 64-bit machines
  • PowerPivot requires a minimum of 1 GB of RAM (2 GB or more recommended)
    The amount of memory needed will depend on the PowerPivot solution you are designing
  • Requires Windows XP with SP3, Windows Vista with SP1 or Windows 7
  • If you are running a version of Windows other than Windows 7, you will need to download and install the .NET Framework 3.5 SP1

After making sure you meet those requirements, you can download and install PowerPivot for Excel (download link). The installation is pretty straight forward and after a bunch of “Next” clicks you are done. PowerPivot in its nature is an add-in for Excel and as such – it is displayed on the ribbon after starting the application:

image

PowerPivot menu is simple and it serves as an entry point to the “real” tool in which you manipulate the row data. To open it, click on the PowerPivot Window button, which is in the upper left corner of the PowerPivot ribbon

image

The PowerPivot window is as simple as an excel and most of the functionalities and options are well-known from Excel (such as importing from excel, SQL Server, Analysis Services, etc). One of the most exciting things here is that you can import data from a RSS Feed but further details you will find later in this series of articles.

This is how PowerPivot window looks like:

image

In part two you can expect me to show you different options for importing data, creating relationships between imported tables, adding a new column and using DAX.

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