Power BI and SQL – Bursting the Myth


Relevancy of SQL in Power BI

Power BI is a cloud-based business analytics tool by Microsoft that enables anyone to visualize and analyze data faster and understand efficiency. It is a very powerful and flexible tool for linking and analyzing various data sources. In addition to the various visualization benefits that Power BI offers, there are unique ready-to-use connectivity features such as easy integration with the database. This provides additional functional benefits and helps data scientists accustomed to working with SQL.

Power BI provides a live connector optimized for SQL Server, so you can easily create graphs, reports, and dashboards by working directly with a large amount of data. Power BI offers the potential to analyze and explore data both on the site and in the cloud. Power BI enables a super easy and secure way of sharing custom dashboards and interactive reports for colleagues and organizations.

Retrieving SQL Database

You can get the full SQL Server table or view it in Power BI Desktop. Power BI Desktop maintains its structure and identifies the relationships between them wherever possible.

The Myth

Some users believe that they can run a SQL Query in Power BI after importing SQL Database from the SQL Server to alter or modify the database tables and their relationships. Some learners also believe that they need to learn SQL first to learn Power BI. But the case is different. What relevancy SQL has in Power BI, let’s have a look here:

  • In Power BI, a user can import the database from the SQL server, and then various data transformations can be performed on the same using Power Query Editor. Power Query Editor is an ETL tool that provides the user interface to do so. The user can’t write any SQL queries in the Power BI environment.
  • After transforming the base data or master data, a user can use visualization tools to visualize data, create reports and dashboards and gain insights from that data.
  • The SQL server remains connected to the Power BI application and whenever the changes are made in the database in the SQL server, those changes reflect in Power BI tables & reports automatically on a refresh.

There is no other relevancy of SQL in Power BI.

Importing SQL data into Power BI

1. Setting up the connection

Open the Power BI desktop and go to the Start screen. Now, in the Get Data tab area, you have many choices about the data sources that you can connect to Power BI Desktop. Connect to SQL server. Clicking the SQL Server option opens a new screen asking which server to connect Power BI Desktop to. Enter the details, and you’re connected.

2. Import

The import technique imports the chosen tables into Power BI Desktop. Power BI then uses these imported records for visualization & report creation.

3. Direct Query

If the Direct Query option is used, no records are imported or copied into Power BI Desktop. This means there is no second copy of data in Power BI & we are dealing with the original copy of data. This way, you end up saving a lot of memory space. When we create visuals, Power BI Desktop queries the main data source through the query.


We have been getting queries from different customers and fellow developers about writing SQL Queries in Power BI. It is now clear that a user cannot write SQL queries in Power BI to manipulate data in the database. We can only use Query Editor which has a User Interface to manipulate Table Data inside Power BI only. Also, Power BI & SQL can be learned independently and there is no prerequisite to learn any of these skills.


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A learner, dreamer, and passionate about modern tools and technology like Excel 365, Power BI, SQL, HR Analytics, Six Sigma, WordPress and Visuals to name a few. Total Experience 15+ years including more than a decade of experience in S&P Global and ongoing 4+ years of experience with fast-growing startups & few MNCs. Clients served: Startups, MSMEs to a few of the Big 4 Consulting firms. Trained more than 2500 professionals in the last 4 years on various skills (Analytics, Content, WordPress, Finance, Entrepreneurship, etc). Last but the most important - mother of an awesome kid!


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  2. Great ! very nicely explained the distinction between the two and uncovered the myths regarding the same.

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