“Introducing” Data Explorer


In My Opinion, There Aren’t Many Things More Exciting Than a New Ribbon Tab Full of Goodies
(And One That I Can Add to Excel 2010 or 2013 – I Hear That’s Important for Some Reason)

Maybe There’s a Future in this “Numbers” Thing…

It does seem like Microsoft has figured out that data is a big deal.  Every time I turn around, I am hearing of a new software development team joining Microsoft’s efforts in the Excel/BI/Overall Data Crunching space.

Often, such teams are merely whispers – shadowy rumors on the wind.  Friends disappear from their familiar roles and reappear in places they can’t talk about.

Other times, someone new to me walks up and just hands me a piece of nearly-finished software.

This is one of those latter cases.

Some Highlights

I don’t have time for a full tour today, and honestly I haven’t even explored all of the functionality yet.  So let’s hit some highlights shall we?

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Cloud Data Approaching Critical Mass: Connection Cloud, SalesForce, PowerPivot, & Webinar on YouTube


Cloud Data Like SalesForce Available to PowerPivot as if it Were in a Local Database:
My Long Wish for a “Data Highway” Gets Closer Every Day
(Click for the Webinar Featuring Yours Truly on YouTube)

Flashback 2001:  The “Data Highway” Concept

Back at Microsoft in 2001 when I was working on what eventually became Excel 2003, I pitched a vision that I called “Data Highway.”  (OK, not an original name considering the Information Superhighway thing coined by Internet inventor Al Gore, but invention is smart and theft is genius, or something like that.)

The idea behind Data Highway was simple:  all relevant data made available to the most popular tools (cough cough Excel), in a convenient and refreshable format.  No manual gruntwork required to “fetch” data in other words – saving your brain for actual thinking.

imageThere were three elements to the pitch:

  1. A common internet protocol for exchanging data. 
  2. “Teaching” Excel, Access, and other tools to consume any data source exposed via that protocol.
  3. A marketplace for data where providers like Dun and Bradstreet could sell data to be piped straight into Excel.

Well the protocol flopped and our VP killed the marketplace idea before it got off the ground.  Having good ideas isn’t enough – you can’t be too early, and you also need to execute better than we did.

Fast Forward to Today

Here we are at the end of 2012, and we have all three elements available in different (but robust and real) forms:

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Datamarket: Quick Followup

  “There are people out there whose jobs force them to be the place where two sources of data meet, and they are the ones who integrate and cross-reference that data to form conclusions… …I think a lot of the world is like that.” -Bill Gates circa 2002 People are always asking me if I know Tyler Durden I mean, I’m often asked if I ever met Bill Gates during my time at Microsoft.  I did, once, in 2002, when…

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Apparently April 12 is “DataMarket Weather Day”

 So cool…  Chris Webb ALSO posted today about downloading weather data from DataMarket. And any post that starts with the words “I don’t always agree with what everything Rob Collie says” gets an immediate boost in credibility – very wise words indeed Click Image for Chris’s Post Chris takes a different approach and goes through the full online UI rather than sharing out a pre-baked workbook like I did.  My approach was intended to make things simpler for you.  Let…

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Download 10,000 Days of Free Weather Data for Almost Any Location Worldwide

“And I feel, so much depends on the weather… So is it raining in your bedroom retail?” Example:  800 Days of Weather in New York City 820 Days of Weather Data from New York City, Pulled From DataMarket (Temps in F, Precipitation in Inches) Come on admit it.  It’s very likely that you would have a use for data like this, whether it was from a single location or for a range of locations, as long as the locations(s) were…

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DataMarket Revisited: The Truth is Out There

How many discoveries are right under our noses, if only we cross-referenced the right data sets? Convergence of Multiple “Thought Streams” Yeah, I love quoting movies.  And tv shows.  And song lyrics.  But it’s not the quoting that I enjoy – it’s the connection.  Taking something technical, for instance, and spotting an intrinsic similarity in something completely unrelated like a movie – I get a huge kick out of that. That tendency to make connections kinda flows through my whole…

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The Ultimate Date Table

  “Looks like it’s time for me to get myself a date.” -Ace Ventura, PowerPivot Detective The Importance of a Date/Calendar Table I get a lot of questions from people who are struggling with the time intelligence functions in DAX.  And nine times out of ten, the answer is that they don’t have a proper date table. I know it’s tempting.  You’ve got your sales table, and hey, there’s a Date column in there!  So you use it, and pass…

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