Exploring Codename "Dallas" with PowerPivot
A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft opened up their Codename "Dallas" website. The service is by invitation only, but there is a mail address on their site where you can ask for an invitation code.
What is Codename "Dallas"?
- It is a marketplace for premium information, both current and historical, where you can search and access it in a single location and using a standardized API (REST and ATOM 1.0) and a simple billing model. Great for Business Intelligence applications where you easily can combine it with your own data. The benefit for the consumer is that you can very easily buy access to the information you want. For suppliers, it provides an easy way to market and sell your information services.
Let me show an example how you can get the information you want into PowerPivot.
First there is the catalog, where you can browse and subscribe to the dataset you are interested in.
Then you can manage your subscriptions and click on a link to explore the contents of them. Also here is a link to vote for contents you would wish to have (a funny coincidence that one of the top content requests now is for news feeds - and that is exactly what I have been developing on the Windows Azure platform lately).
Below is a screenshot of the content explorer. I've picked the United Nations WHO (World Health Organization) Database as an example. You specify which variable you are interested in, for example Life Expectancy. Then you select year and can also filter on nations. A preview is available.
If you are interested in using this data in PowerPivot, you can click Analyze. For me it works only if I first start PowerPivot and then click the Analyze button. Then a dialog similar to the one below should be shown. Click Open.
PowerPivot will then display the Table Import Wizard. Give a good name to your connection and click Next.
During the next step, you can limit the contents of the data feed. Or just click Finish to include all data.
Finally you should see a confirmation dialog that the rows have been loaded into memory. However I never managed to import more than 100 rows at a time from the WHO Database. Probably that is some limitation of the trial version or a limitation on their side. To get more rows, I needed to repeat the process and add new data feeds.
Finally, you can play around with the data as usual in PowerPivot.
Another option than using PowerPivot is the consume data from your C# applications. For that purpose, codename "Dallas" can autogenerate C# classes that fetch the data for you.
There's a link on the content explorer to create the C# proxy classes. Click there and then choose to save the file.
Below is an example autogenerated C# class for reading the WHO data.
The number of suppliers is currently very limited. For the business minded it should be a good opportunity to sell your high quality information services.
Give it a try on http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/dallas/!