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Microsoft BI: Project Crescent in Denali

Good presentation on Project Crescent by Sean Boon, Carolyn Chau, Sabrena McBride at Microsoft Tech-ed’11. You can download the slides here. I have captured the key learning here.

Project “Crescent” is an interactive data exploration and visual presentation experience designed with end users in mind. Crescent is an easy to use, Silverlight based application delivered through SharePoint 2010 (Crescent will not work with SharePoint 2007). It is a blend of Office products like PowerPoint and Excel.Crescent is metadata driven and fully integrated with PowerPivot and SharePoint. It is NOT a replacement for any of the other Microsoft BI products such as Reporting Services, Analysis Services etc but is considered a new entrant (add-on) to the Microsoft BI stack. While Report Builder is targeted towards IT Professionals and Power Users, Crescent is targeted at end users due to its ease of use and data visualization features. Report Designer on the other hand has a much sophisticated design environment and is therefore suited for Developers.

Crescent only works in Reporting Services in SharePoint Integrated mode. There are two ways to launch Crescent: (1) PowerPivot Gallery (2)

Launch using PowerPivot Gallery:

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Launch from SharePoint Shared Documents if the PowerPivot workbook is uploaded to the SharePoint:

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List of Data Sources available to SharePoint:

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Create connections to BI Semantic Model:

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Crescent Interface:

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Add filters to the report:

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Easily Add Interactive Charts:

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different types of charts:

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Advanced Visualization for maximum use of screen real-estate: I like the concept of card view Smile. Wonder where we could use it in a business application – perhaps create a report with Order: Order Detail on it.

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Card View:

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Crescent Architecture:

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Crescent is integrated with SharePoint. We can connect to a PowerPivot Model in SharePoint or connect to a BI Semantic Model in Analysis Services. You can also get data directly from SQL Server using the analysis services with a feature called Direct Query. A recommendation if we are going to query directly against SQL Server is create column store indexes which is based on vertipaq to get better query performance. The column store is a new Index for SQL Server relational. Crescent is a read-only tool and there is no write-back feature. Currently Microsoft wants all its BI technologies to be used with SharePoint rather than standalone BI apps. Personally I think this is a brilliant strategy since SharePoint is pervasive within an organization, end users are already familiar with the SharePoint interface.For example, when we publish an Excel Workbook in SharePoint, we get Excel Services. When we publish a Reporting Services Reports in SharePoint we get Reporting Services in SharePoint mode.

Scatter Graph:

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Line Graphs:

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Multiple Graphs on a page are automatically connected! No property pages to connect all of them together:

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Security needs to be defined at PowerPivot/Analysis Services level and not in crescent.

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