Power Query vs DAX

In this corner, coming in with all its Excel glory we have Power Query! And in this corner we have a new programming language, DAX! Have you ever felt like there is a tug of war going on between these two technologies? In this episode, the team discusses the two technologies, what they do, when — and perhaps more importantly, WHY might you use them.

Episode Quotes

“They have two very different purposes. They start out as two incompatible technologies and there’s no sane way to merge the two.”

“I liken Power Query/M to be able to use what we used to with SSIS to bring that data in and get it into almost the final state.”

“Power Query, you can get away with just, as my boss used to say, poke and hope. Just start clicking buttons and figure it out. With DAX, you’re just going to run into a wall if you try that.”

“’Would I want to do this using Integration Services? Okay, then I’m going to use Power Query.’ If I’m not going to want to do this and get it into the data warehouse and I want to build it into a semantic layer, then I’m going to be using DAX.”

“They do have a good complementary nature. It would be very hard to do the job of both with one or the other.”

Listen to Learn

00:38     Intro to the team & topic
01:25     Compañero Shout-Outs
02:39     What Have I Learned
04:47     SQL Server in the News
06:13     Power Query and how it fits into Power BI
09:08     Why does my Swiss Army knife have a scalpel and a cork screw?
10:40     The elevator pitch on the difference between these technologies
12:17     So…which one should I use?
13:15     You have to learn to think differently to use DAX
15:21     You might need to do some unlearning
18:15     Are both Power Query and DAX here to stay?
19:40     How M fits in…and the serious answer: functional vs imperative languages
24:43     Recommendations on learning these technologies
26:35     Closing Thoughts


“Happy Rock” for What Have I Learned by https://www.bensound.com
Music for SQL Server in the News by Mansardian

Meet the Hosts

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Carlos Chacon

With more than 10 years of working with SQL Server, Carlos helps businesses ensure their SQL Server environments meet their users’ expectations. He can provide insights on performance, migrations, and disaster recovery. He is also active in the SQL Server community and regularly speaks at user group meetings and conferences. He helps support the free database monitoring tool found at databasehealth.com and provides training through SQL Trail events.

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Eugene Meidinger

Eugene works as an independent BI consultant and Pluralsight author, specializing in Power BI and the Azure Data Platform. He has been working with data for over 8 years and speaks regularly at user groups and conferences. He also helps run the GroupBy online conference.

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Kevin Feasel

Kevin is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP and proprietor of Catallaxy Services, LLC, where he specializes in T-SQL development, machine learning, and pulling rabbits out of hats on demand. He is the lead contributor to Curated SQL, president of the Triangle Area SQL Server Users Group, and author of the books PolyBase Revealed (Apress, 2020) and Finding Ghosts in Your Data: Anomaly Detection Techniques with Examples in Python (Apress, 2022). A resident of Durham, North Carolina, he can be found cycling the trails along the triangle whenever the weather's nice enough.

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