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This blog summarises the (many) new features in Analysis Services 2016 (Tabular)
Part two of a five-part series of blogs

Microsoft have made lots of improvements to SSAS (Tabular model) - we particularly like the new DAX editor! This blog lists all of the most interesting changes, divided into 4 separate sections.

  1. What's new in Analysis Services 2016 (tabular model)?
  2. Improvements to editing DAX in SSAS 2016 (Tabular Model) (this blog)
  3. Changes to the DAX language in SSAS Tabular 2016
  4. Bi-directional / many-to-many relationships in Tabular 2016
  5. Other improvements to Analysis Services 2016 Tabular

This is part of a wide-ranging blog explaining the new features in every part of SQL Server 2016.

Posted by Andy Brown on 08 July 2016

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Improvements to editing DAX in SSAS 2016 (Tabular Model)

This page shows that it's now easier to create DAX formulae in Analysis Services.

Be aware that many of the improvements will only be available if you are using SQL Server 2016 as your workspace server.

Basic editing

So you're typing in a complicated formula, and you want to make it easier to read.  You can now add comments and indentation!

New DAX editor

Comments begin with // and appear in green.

There's so much to like about this!

  • You can include comments.
  • You can press Alt + Enter to insert blank lines.
  • You can press the TAB key to indent lines.

All of these things were possible before, but the difference now is that the editor retains any changes that you make:

Measure after creation

This is what the measure looks like AFTER you press the Enter key.

Automatic completion of DAX formulae

The DAX editor is now much more forgiving.  For example, pressing Enter below would create a valid formula:

Incomplete formula

The formula is missing a closing parenthesis, but SSAS will add this for you.

Syntax errors in measures

One of the nightmares of the old DAX editor was making a mistake.  Sometimes you'd be able to correct your formula, but often Visual Studio would create a phantom measure and lose your changes.

Here's what happens now if you make a mistake:

Invalid DAX formula

There is no RETICULATE function in DAX ...

Not only does the editor now underline in red the mistake you've made, but it also allows you to create an invalid formula.

This single feature alone is worth the upgrade to the new version of Analysis Services Tabular!

Formula fixup

Suppose that you rename the Quantity column in the table below:

Renaming a column

If you rename a column like this, what happens to measures using its name?


Remarkably, measures using this column name will automatically be updated:

New measures

The formula for the measure shown has automatically changed to reflect the new column name.



So now we can actually use the DAX editor effectively, what changes are there in the language itself?

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