All About Power BI LIVE Connection Simplified 101


Power BI Live Connection_FI

Visual Analytics” refers to the combination of data analytics and visualizations. By integrating interactive visual representations with underlying analytical processes, this problem-solving approach aims to effectively facilitate high-level, complex activities such as reasoning and data-driven decision-making. Microsoft Power BI is a Business Intelligence (BI) tool and Visual Analytics engine that offers real-time high-level analytics, extensive modelling, and custom development. It has led the charge in making business analysis more efficient through intuitive, interactive, and simple-to-use services.

In this article, you will gain information about Power BI Live Connection. You will also gain a holistic understanding of Power BI, its key features, Power BI Live Connection, difference between Power BI Live Connection & Direct Query mode, steps for creating a report with Power BI Live Connection and the limitations associated with Power BI Live Connection. Read along to find out in-depth information about Power BI Live Connection.

Table of Contents


  • Install the SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular model.
  • You can restore the AdventureWorks Tabular model after installing the SSAS Tabular instance.

What is Power BI?

Power BI LIVE Connection: Power BI Logo
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Power BI is a Proprietary Data Visualization and Business Intelligence platform that is part of the Microsoft Power Platform. It is one of the most commonly used tools in businesses for analysing business data and creating reports. Power BI integrates with data using a variety of built-in software services, apps, and connectors to provide immersive visuals, interactive reports, and insights.

Power BI allows users to aggregate, analyse, visualise, and share data. It is a SaaS-based platform that is also available for desktop, mobile, and on-premise servers. Power BI supports connecting to a variety of data source connectors in order to load data directly into the Dashboard from the data source and visualise data stored in databases or data warehouses. Power BI Charts, graphs, KPIs, and reports are used by users to analyse data and gain interactive insights.

Power BI offers 2 services:

Power BI Desktop is a free application that you can download and install on your computer. Power BI Desktop is a comprehensive data analysis and report creation tool that allows you to connect to, transform, visualise, and analyse your data. It includes the Query Editor, which allows you to connect to a variety of data sources and combine them into a data model (also known as modelling). Then, using that data model, you can create a report. Reports can be shared with others directly or by publishing to the Power BI service.

The Power BI Service is a Cloud-based or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering. It enables teams and organisations to edit and collaborate on reports. It is also possible to connect to data sources in the Power BI service, but modelling is limited. Power BI is used to create dashboards, apps, analyse and explore data to uncover business insights, and much more.

Key Features of Power BI

Some of the main features of Power BI are listed below.

  • Hybrid Development: Power BI integrates with a variety of connectors, allowing users to connect to a variety of data sources.
  • Modeling View: Power BI enables users to divide and slice complex data models into simpler forms, separate diagrams, and multi-select objects.
  • AI Support: Power BI supports AI in Data Analytics, which users can use to prepare data, build Machine Learning models, and quickly identify insights from structured and unstructured data.
  • Quick Insights: Power BI makes it easier for users to create data subsets and apply Data Analytics to that data.
  • Report Sharing: Users can easily share their reports with other organisation users without having to worry about data security.

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What is Power BI Live Connection?

Power BI Live Connection is a kind of connection in Power BI. It only connects to three types of data sources. This connection does not store a duplicate or secondary copy of the data in memory. Data will be stored in the data source, and Power BI visualizations will query the data source every time when needed.

The three types of data sources supported by Power BI Live Connection are as follows:

  • SQL Server Analysis Services Multi-Dimensional
  • SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular
  • Power BI Service Dataset

These three types of data sources are based on SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) technology. A Power BI Live connection to the SQL Server database engine is not possible. SSAS technology, on the other hand, can be any of the two kinds:

  • Cloud-based (Azure Analysis Services)
  • On-premises (SSAS on-premises)

Difference between Power BI LIVE Connection & Direct Query Mode

Power BI Live Connection’s basic concept is very similar to DirectQuery’s. When you use a Power BI Live Connection, no data is imported into Power BI, just like when you use DirectQuery. Instead, your solution refers to the underlying data source and uses Power BI Desktop solely as a data visualization tool. Despite the fact that the basic concept is the same, DirectQuery and Power BI Live Connection differ significantly.

  • Power Live Connection refers to connecting directly to a Model (SSAS Multidimensional or Tabular). Hence, all modeling work is done on the above-mentioned models. With Direct Query, you connect to a database and can use Power BI to create calculated columns and measures. As a result, Power BI serves as your model layer while your data remains in your databases.
  • DirectQuery is primarily used to connect to non-Microsoft databases or analytical engines, as well as relational databases (such as SQL Server, Teradata, Oracle, SAP Business Warehouse). Power BI Live Connection, on the other hand, connects to three sources: SSAS tabular, SSAS multi-dimensional, and Power BI dataset.
  • DirectQuery still has limited Power Query functionality for some data sources (such as SQL Server databases). Power BI Live Connection, on the other hand, does not include any Power Query features.
  • DirectQuery allows you to create simple calculated columns, which are then converted to T-SQL scripts behind the scenes. However, calculated columns cannot be created in Power BI Live Connection.
  • You can use Report Level measures in Power BI Live Connection with the ability to leverage all DAX functions. In the DirectQuery mode, however, you will have limited measurement capabilities. For more complex measures, you must enable the option to allow unrestricted measures in DirectQuery mode, which is not recommended because it significantly slows down the performance of some expressions.
  • The DirectQuery mode is typically slower than the Power BI Live connection.
  • A Power BI Live connection is typically less flexible than a DirectQuery Mode connection.

How to create a Report with Power BI Live Connection

The steps associated with creating a report with Power BI Live Connection are as follows:

  • Step 1: Open a Power BI Desktop, and navigate to the Home ribbon.
  • Step 2: Click on the “Get Data” button and then from the drop-down, select “Analysis Services“.
Power BI LIVE Connection: Get Data
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  • Step 3: SQL Server Analysis Services database dialog box appears. Here, in the Server field, type the instance name where SSAS is installed in your machine.
  • Step 4: Select the “Connect Live” checkbox while connecting to the SQL Server Analysis Services database.
  • Step 5: Click on the “OK” button.
Power BI LIVE Connection: Connect Live
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  • Step 6: In the Navigator window, select the “Adventure Works Internet Sales Model” option.
  • Step 7: Click on the “OK” button.
Power BI LIVE Connection: Adventure Works Internet Sales Model
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Note: You must select a model rather than a table. And the model will be linked to Power BI because it includes multiple tables with their relationships, hierarchies, and calculations. You can see Live Connection mentioned on the right bottom side of Power BI Desktop.

Power BI LIVE Connection: Visualizations
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Limitations of Power BI LIVE Connection

What you’ll find with Power BI Live Connections are limitations caused by the fact that Analysis Services is an Enterprise BI tool. As a result, if you’re going to connect to it, it’s likely that your IT team has already gone through extensive data cleansing and modelling.

Some of the limitations associated with Power BI LIVE Connection are given below:

  • You are also limited to only one data source/database in Power BI Live Connection. Data from multiple data sources cannot be combined any longer.
  • Power Query transformations are not available with Power BI Live Connection. In fact, in the Power BI Live Connection mode, Edit Queries and all related options are disabled. Because any changes you want to make to relationships or the query editor should be done in Analysis Services rather than Power BI.
  • Before loading data into the SSAS model, all data transformation requirements must be met. Because SSAS is not a data transformation tool, you can use SSIS to transform data before loading it into the data warehouse, and subsequently process the data from the data warehouse into an SSAS data model.
  • The relationship tab is not available with the Live Connection. In this mode, Power BI is reduced to a mere visualization tool.
  • Modeling in Power BI is severely limited when using the Live connection. Only measures can be created. Report Level Measures are the type of measure that you can create with a Live Connection. Report Level Measures, as the name implies, are only applicable to this Power BI report. You cannot use the report level measures built in the previous Power BI report if you create another Power BI report that is connected live to the same data source.


In this article, you have learned about Power BI Live Connection. This article also provided information on Power BI, its key features, Power BI Live Connection, difference between Power BI Live Connection & Direct Query mode, steps for creating a report with Power BI Live Connection and the limitations associated with Power BI Live Connection.

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Share your experience of understanding the Power BI Live Connection in the comment section below! We would love to hear your thoughts.

Manisha Jena
Research Analyst, Hevo Data

Manisha is a data analyst with experience in diverse data tools like Snowflake, Google BigQuery, SQL, and Looker. She has hadns on experience in using data analytics stack for various problem solving through analysis. Manisha has written more than 100 articles on diverse topics related to data industry. Her quest for creative problem solving through technical content writing and the chance to help data practitioners with their day to day challenges keep her write more.

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