If you’ve upgraded to the October 2020 release of Power BI Server, you might be seeing the following error when you refresh some of your reports:
This error appeared when we install the November 18th patch for Power BI Server (15.0.1104.264) and wasn’t present in the original October 2020 release. The especially frustrating part was that reports refreshed just fine in the Power BI Desktop client, and the issue only appeared after publishing the report up to Power BI Server, making it much more difficult to troubleshoot.
However, the resolution ended up being pretty straightforward – there are two different ways to define a connection to a SQL Server database, and if you use both methods in the same data model and then merge the results, Power BI Server has a problem with it (and Power BI Desktop does not). To correct this issue, you need to pick a method and ensure that all the SQL Server connections in your data model use this single method to connect to the database.
One method is used when you specify a database server, but don’t specify a database:
This results in the following M query, with the connection taking up the first two lines (one for server, one for database):
If you specify the database in the connection window instead, it merges the connection statement onto a single line and uses Sql.Database (singular) instead of Sql.Databases (plural). Since you’re required to specify a database name when you provide a SQL query, so a custom query always uses this one-line method to connect:
Regardless of whether you enter the database name (and have the one-line connection method) or don’t enter a database (and use the two-line method), it looks exactly the same in the step window in Power Query:
I’d recommend using method two for all your connections, as that’s what’s needed to run a specific SQL query – if any of your data sources and query-based and not just selecting a table, you’ll have to use this approach.
I hope this helps somebody else! While I’d love it if Power BI Server avoided errors like this one, I’d also really appreciate it if Power BI Server and Desktop used the same code for shared functionality so that you can be aware of issues before you publish your reports and they fail to refresh.
When importing Excel files using Power Query, any columns without a name in the first row will end up titled “Column123”, with an number at the end that increments for each column. This happens whether they contain actual data, or whether they’re just formatted columns that contain nothing at all.
If you’re importing a single file, you can rename or delete these columns as you need to. However, if you’re importing an entire folder of Excel files or the format changes unpredictably, you may want to automatically remove all o these columns at the end.
To do this, you’ll use the “Advanced Editor” to add a line of M-code:
"Remove Columns Named Column" = Table.RemoveColumns(#"Promoted Headers", List.FindText(Table.ColumnNames(#"Promoted Headers"), "Column")),
After you add this step, you may need to modify your “Changed Type” step to only set the type on columns you’re keeping, as it automatically mentions every single column by name.
Adding this step will remove the additional columns, dynamically, every time the data is imported. Now when you import a folder full of Excel files and some of them contain additional columns or rogue formatting, the step will drop them if they don’t get named.
After a Powershell session at SQL Saturday (Phoenix #131) this weekend, I’m now suddenly on the lookout for handy powershell commands. The first one lets you see the number of Active* sessions on your IIS site (* because HTTP is stateless, it’s really the number of connections that have been opened recently – not what’s currently active, which is likely next to zero. I tried browsing around on a test site and it showed only my one user connected).
To get the currently active user count, here’s the powershell:
# Ensure you use the server's actual name, not LOCALHOST, which won't work
$Servername = "Your Server Name"
$Sitename = "Name of your IIS Site"
Get-Counter "\\$ServerName\web service($SiteName)\current connections"