What Is DAX? What Are the Benefits of Using Variables in DAX?
by Christian Ofori-Boateng on Aug 27, 2020 8:00:00 AM
Power BI has a lot of capabilities on its own. Still, some creators need more. Whether they work with intricate data complexities or just want to make sure that they’re not missing out, a lot of people need ways to take their Power BI usage up a notch. For some, this is exactly where DAX comes into play. Should you learn DAX and start using it in Power BI Desktop? Will learning DAX be worth your time and effort? Let’s dive into some of the benefits and challenges of using DAX for Power BI.
What is DAX?
DAX stands for Data Analysis Expressions. It’s a language that works with data so that Microsoft users, including Power BI users, can maximize their data functions and make their data more useful. DAX has several uses, including helping creators filter out superfluous data and letting them get straight to the data that matters most for their purposes. DAX can be used with several Microsoft products, but a lot of Power BI users are especially enthusiastic about it.
Benefits of Using DAX
If you’re thinking about learning DAX, then you’ll obviously want to make sure that it’s worth your time. DAX does come with a lot of benefits. As a matter of fact, virtually any DAX user will tell you that learning DAX has made their data research more helpful and productive. Creators cite the benefits listed in the paragraphs below.
Designed by Microsoft
Microsoft designed the DAX language with its own platforms in mind. That’s why Power BI users find DAX so helpful. The language works smoothly with Microsoft products, so creators don’t have to deal with any extra frustration when applying DAX variables to their data.
Advance Your Power BI Usage
Of course, as stated above, DAX can help you get the most out of your Power BI usage. If you’ve ever wished you could perform a specific function in Power BI, DAX may very well give you the capability that you’re looking for. You may also filter your information using more specific criteria than you would ordinarily use, and you can put DAX to work when your regular data fields aren’t enough to get the job done. For example, DAX includes fields like:
- Time (including specific dates and ranges such as quarters and years)
- Logical functions like if/then and true/false
- Mathematical equations
As you use these fields and functions, DAX gives you some flexibility. You can apply DAX formulas to an entire field or use them row by row.
Designed for Ease
Learning DAX does require some time and commitment, but one doesn’t need several STEM degrees to figure it out. Microsoft designed the language to be simple, as far as languages go. If you already use Power BI and just want to take your usage further, then learning DAX shouldn’t be out of reach for you. Plus, once you get the hang of DAX, you may find yourself working faster in Power BI than you did without it.
Microsoft and Using DAX Variables
Once you’ve learned the basics of DAX, you can apply DAX variables in Power BI. Microsoft has a guide to using DAX variables to improve formulas. In this guide, they’ve mentioned several benefits of using variables. Their main benefits are:
- Improving performance
- Improving readability
- Simplifying the debugging process
- Reducing complexity
Using DAX variables can be a bit like learning how to drive. Some may find it challenging at first, but once a person gets the hang of it, they’ll use the skills all the time to get where they need to go. Plus, in the long run, learning those skills can make a person’s life much easier.
Challenges of DAX
Of course, while you learn how to use DAX and its variables, you’re going to run into a couple of challenges. As we’ve already mentioned, Microsoft designed DAX with relative simplicity in mind. That said, it is a language, and any language is going to come with a bit of a learning curve. Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure that your end users have some familiarity with the DAX functions that you plan to use. They’ll need to know what exactly they’re reading, after all.
In light of these challenges, is learning DAX still worth the effort? If you’re already getting everything that you need out of Power BI, perhaps not. However, if you know that you can get more from your data, and you’re not getting what you want from the functions that you already know, then DAX can help you find what you need.
Getting the Most from DAX and Power BI
If you’re interested in learning DAX and using its variables in Power BI, it means that you want to get the most out of your Power BI usage. ChristianSteven Software can help you with that goal in two ways.
First of all, our Help Center is full of articles and research on how you can maximize your Power BI usage. You can find information on Power BI basics, reporting options, and tips and tricks that can help you take your knowledge up a notch.
Second, we offer software solutions such as the PBRS, or the Power BI Reports Scheduler. This software builds on all the benefits that you already get from Power BI, enhancing those capabilities so that you can build and send reports with ease and speed. Whether you already use DAX, want to learn DAX, or have no intention of using DAX in the future, PBRS can still help your business reach its full reporting potential, which can then help you make the best decisions for business growth.
Take a look at PBRS today to start with your free trial. You can use PBRS free for 30 days, so explore the software and let us know if you have any questions. Data reporting plays a major role in all the most successful businesses. Our software can help you simplify that process.
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