Presented @ Ottawa SQL Server User Group (Ottawa PASS Chapter) on Thursday February 19, 2015

Self-Service Data Integration with Power Query

Discover, Load, Transform and Mashup. Microsoft Power Query for Excel includes a powerful query engine and a formula language that enables self-service data integration and shaping over a diverse set of data sources. Power Query makes it possible for analysts to do basic ETL by themselves without much help from the IT department. Most common tasks can be accomplished within an intuitive user interface, but a powerful language called “M” can also be used to do some pretty sophisticated data preparation work. Come learn how to succeed and tackle your data and data-shaping needs.

Updated with the Power BI Designer (currently in preview) @

Presentation deck “Introduction to Azure HDInsight” @ MSDEVMTL [Samedi SQL – Azure] on Saturday February 7, 2015

Apache Hadoop is a platform that has emerged to help extract insight from all that data. In this session, you will learn the basics of Hadoop, how to get up and running with Hadoop in the cloud using Microsoft Azure HDInsight, and how you can leverage the deeper integration of Visual Studio to integrate Big Data with your existing applications. No previous experience with Hadoop is required.

Le vendredi 16 janvier dernier, j’ai eu le grand plaisir de présenter “Le journalisme de données… par où commencer?” au Salon des Entreprises de Gatineau. Vous pouvez accéder à la présentation ici ->


Les données, une mine d’informations pour les journalistes et les citoyens. Le journalisme de données permet de raconter des histoires complexes plus facilement ou de façon plus claire que s’il ne fallait compter que sur les seuls mots. Pourquoi est-ce important? Les outils disponibles, la mise à jour de votre ensemble de compétences…

Pour les septiques ce n’était pas une formation “journalistique”, ni une conférence, mais une présentation sur le journalisme de données (data driven journalism) qui est accessible à tout le monde passionné de données et qui désire raconter des histoires pour l’intérêt du public!

Voici un très bon article Can data journalism be taught? par Simon Rogers un journaliste de données, écrivain, orateur…


First Happy New Year and best wishes for 2015!

Yes, Data Analytics with R and SQL Server … As Data and Business Intelligence Architects I personally think we just can’t dismiss or push aside the Data Science “landscape”. Hence that’s why I registered and currently more than half way through the Data Science Specialization on Coursera from the Johns Hopkins University. Even though I have been working with R for a while I wanted to get some kind of recognition, attestation for my skills and also just because I can ;-)

So the following outlines how to connect to SQL Server with R and briefly highlights some (out of so many more to explore) R functions…

Here is what you first need to install to get started:

RStudio Desktop

[Optional – but required for this demo!]
For the purpose of this demo I am using the following:
The Adventure Works DW 2014 Database which can be downloaded here The demo (and scripts) will also work with the Adventure Works DW 2012 database.

If you decided to use and restore the Adventure Works DW database, you will need to create the following SQL Server View which will serve as our data frame (data table):

CREATE VIEW [dbo].[vw_FactSales]
SELECT	p.EnglishProductName AS 'Product',
        pc.EnglishProductCategoryName AS 'ProductCategory', 
        ps.EnglishProductSubcategoryName AS 'ProductSubCategory',  
		do.FullDateAlternateKey AS 'DateOrder',
		dd.FullDateAlternateKey AS 'DateDue',
		ds.FullDateAlternateKey AS 'DateShip',
		dc.EnglishEducation AS 'Education',
		dc.EnglishOccupation AS 'Occupation',
        g.StateProvinceName AS 'StateProvince',
        g.EnglishCountryRegionName AS 'CountryRegion',
		pr.EnglishPromotionName AS 'Promotion',
		pr.EnglishPromotionType AS 'PromotionType',
		pr.EnglishPromotionCategory AS 'PromotionCategory',
        cu.CurrencyName AS 'Currency',
FROM    dbo.FactInternetSales fs JOIN
 		dbo.DimProduct p ON fs.ProductKey = p.ProductKey JOIN
        dbo.DimProductSubcategory ps ON p.ProductSubcategoryKey = ps.ProductSubcategoryKey JOIN
        dbo.DimProductCategory pc ON ps.ProductCategoryKey = pc.ProductCategoryKey JOIN       
		dbo.DimDate do ON fs.OrderDateKey = do.Datekey JOIN
		dbo.DimDate dd ON fs.DueDateKey = dd.DateKey JOIN
		dbo.DimDate ds ON fs.DueDateKey = ds.DateKey JOIN
		dbo.DimCustomer dc ON fs.CustomerKey = dc.CustomerKey JOIN
		dbo.DimGeography g ON dc.GeographyKey = g.GeographyKey JOIN
		dbo.DimPromotion pr ON fs.PromotionKey = pr.PromotionKey JOIN
        dbo.DimCurrency cu ON fs.CurrencyKey = cu.CurrencyKey JOIN
		dbo.DimSalesTerritory st ON fs.SalesTerritoryKey = st.SalesTerritoryKey 

You will also need to create a SQL Server Login named RUser with db_datareader role membership to the Adventure Works DW database


Next we need create a new ODBC System DSN (I opted for 64-bit) click Add


Select SQL Server Native Client 11.0


Name it AdventureWorksDW


Provide the SQL Server Login information


Change the default database




Test connectivity


Your done!


Open RStudio and let’s start exploring. (You will have a different IDE – I am using the ‘Idle Fingers’ theme. To change yours go to Tools – Global Options)


First we need to install a specific package named RODBC which provides ODBC Database Access and will permit us to connect to SQL Server. For more information on the RODBC package follow this link ->

Simply type the following at the prompt in the Console window and press enter.



Now we need to load the RODBC package, create a connection “con” to the ODBC DSN “AdventureWorksDW” we created earlier, query the database and put the results into a data frame “df_adventureworks” and close the connection.

con < - odbcConnect("AdventureWorksDW", uid="RUser", pwd="RUser12345")
df_adventureworks <-, "select * from vw_FactSales"), stringsAsFactors = FALSE)
close (con)


You should see in your Environment window pane the following data frame df_adventureworks with 60398 obs. of 39 variables. Meaning 60398 rows of data with 39 attributes (columns)


The most useful multipurpose function in R is summary(X) where X can be one of any number of objects, including datasets, variables, and linear models... just to name a few! The summary function has different outputs depending on what kind of object it takes as an argument. Besides being widely applicable, this method is valuable because it often provides exactly what is needed in terms of summary statistics.

Let's give it a try - type the following command in the Console window and press enter


Take time to look at the generated output (very interesting)


Now let’s look at two other functions colMeans and aggregate

Type the following commands in the Console window and press enter

aggregate(SalesAmount ~ ProductCategory + CountryRegion, data=df_adventureworks, FUN=sum)

colMeans returns the mean for the specified columns, in this case for SalesAmount the mean is 486.0869
aggregate splits the data into subsets, computes summary statistics for each, and returns the result in a convenient form.
Those of you who are familiar with SQL Server will notice that this function “aggregate(SalesAmount ~ ProductCategory + CountryRegion, data=df_adventureworks, FUN=sum)” is somewhat similar to GROUP BY and thus the following T-SQL will return the same results.

SELECT	ProductCategory,
		SUM(SalesAmount) AS 'SalesAmount'
FROM	dbo.vw_FactSales


On to graphics, you can create several basic graph types like density plots, dot plots, bar charts, line charts, pie charts, boxplots and scatter plots in R, I recommend you look at the following link -> to get you started.

But to create advanced graphics in R one needs to install the ggplot2 package.
ggplot2 is an implementation of the grammar of graphics in R. Official documentation can be found at the following link ->

In order to install and use the ggplot2 library, type the following commands in the Console window

install.packages("ggplot2", dependencies = TRUE)

Let’s create a bar plot with the count of sold ProductCategory [Accessories, Bikes, Clothing] by CountryRegion
Type the following command in the console and press enter

ggplot (df_adventureworks, aes(CountryRegion, fill=ProductCategory)) + geom_bar()

The graph will appear in the Plot window and should look similar to the following


This one will create 2 separate bar plots [MaritalStatus] one for Married and other for Single with count by Occupation

ggplot(df_adventureworks, aes(Occupation) ) +  geom_histogram(color = "white") + facet_grid(MaritalStatus ~ .)


Before we wrap up here is the entire R script used for this demo

# Install RODBC package

# Load RODBC package

# Create connection "con" to SQL Server and database using ODBC DSN
con < - odbcConnect("AdventureWorksDW", uid="RUser", pwd="RUser12345")

# Query the database and put the results into the data frame "df_adventureworks"
df_adventureworks <-, "select * from vw_FactSales"), stringsAsFactors = FALSE)
close (con)

# Return summary statistics about the "df_adventureworks" data frame

# Return the mean for the "SalesAmount" column

# Return aggregate sum data for "SalesAmount" grouping it by "ProductCategory" and "CountryRegion"
aggregate(SalesAmount ~ ProductCategory + CountryRegion, data=df_adventureworks, FUN=sum)

# Install ggplot2 package and dependencies
install.packages("ggplot2", dependencies = TRUE)

# Load ggplot2 package

# Plot with count (number) of sold "ProductCategory" [Accessories, Bikes, Clothing] by "CountryRegion"
ggplot (df_adventureworks, aes(CountryRegion, fill=ProductCategory)) + geom_bar()

# Plots 2 separate bar plots "MaritalStatus" one for Married and other for Single with count by "Occupation" 
ggplot(df_adventureworks, aes(Occupation) ) +  geom_histogram(color = "white") + facet_grid(MaritalStatus ~ .)

To conclude, this is certainly not the best dataset (may want to look at an earlier post for better ones) for performing advanced analytics, but serves great purpose for demonstrating how to connect to SQL Server with R and introduce some basic R functions...

If you are interested to learn more and further explore about R, I strongly recommend you start with the following resources