An (Advanced) Introduction to DAX

Target Audience:

This is for business intelligence developers new to DAX formulas.


If you are planning on working with Power BI, PowerPivot, or SSAS Tabular, you are going to need to learn DAX. DAX looks like some frankenstein child of Excel formulas and SQL. Unfortunately this can lull new developers into a false sense of confidence. The truth is that DAX is a whole new beast, requiring whole new mental models and concepts. This talk focuses on those core concepts.

Specifically, we are going to cover how to add business logic via calculated columns and measures. Then we are going to cover the two things DAX is great at: aggregations and filtering. Finally, we are going to look at iterators and some more advanced filter manipulation.

Why I Want to Present This Session:

If I had a time machine, I would travel back in time two years and show this presentation to myself. As a result, I would have saved myself hours of grief trying to understand DAX.

Since I can’t do that, I’m going to travel forward in time and present this to people who are not me and save them hours of grief instead.

Additional Resources:

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Eugene is a Business Intelligence developer in the Pittsburgh area. He helps run the local Power BI user group.
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7 Comments. Leave new

I like how this abstract very clearly defines who it’s for (BI developers new to DAX), and even better, it explains why people who haven’t used a language yet need to stop and learn something before they get started. That’s really well done.

It also appeals to BI developers who DO already know DAX, but they’ll go in with the right expectations.

Having said that, at voting time, it might not garner a lot of votes just because that’s a small niche. However, I think you can still make the cut – it might not be at the April event, or the next one, but I bet you’ll get in sooner or later.

When I built GroupBy, I wanted to come up with a way that people could follow a topic and get alerted when it does make the cut. This is exactly the kind of session I had in mind – it’s a niche topic, but the audience is going to grow over time, and I gotta make sure we can foster the audience to follow this session.

Good job!


Hi Brent, I have watched a few presentations from the GroupBy conference so far, I enjoyed them, well-done to Pinal, Aaron etc…Thank you Brent for the event. Is it possible to have a topic on MDX also?

Michael Armentrout
January 31, 2017 9:08 am

Eugene, I agree with Brent here; concise targeted audience. Seeing as how I am where you were a couple of years ago, I am very interested in this session. Hope it makes the cut.


I like the abstract and presentation. I’ve worked with DAX for a few months, but found your PASS recording well done and helpful, especially in framing the mental approach to the different concepts. There’s probably some room for streamlining that presentation, or adding to the visualizations to communicate ideas quickly. This could allow the talk to cover a little more – like a “Why DAX?” intro (strengths vs Excel, MDX, T-SQL, ETL, etc), an example of Time Intelligence functions, newer features like variables, or breaking down a complex measure to illustrate some real “advanced DAX”.

As we roll out Power BI and start to develop some power users, this is definitely a session that would be valuable to them.


    Hi Andrew, thanks for the feedback. I definitely agree there is room for more visuals to help communicate the concepts. I still rely too much on bullet points as a speaker. I also would add some additional content to this, since the GroupBy session would have a larger windows to work with. I can definitely see the value in making this accessible to people who are just curious about DAX.

    That being said, I’ve got a difficult balance of making this talk interesting to a broader audience, while still sticking to my core goal: what would me from two years ago want? In some ways that makes this an EXTREMELY niche topic, but I also think it keeps the content focused.

    I know for me the answer to “Why DAX?” was “My boss said so.” The two questions I really cared about then were “Where do I start with all of the this?” and “What the heck am I doing?”.


Although it’s a bit of a niche indeed, I would love to see this session here on GroupBy! I have some experience with DAX but I’m curious on the concepts you have to share and things I can learn.


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