Some reading material - Power Query, Power BI and R

A quick list of some useful books on Power Query, Power BI (PBI) and R, with some very brief notes. Be warned that the PBI user interface has changed a lot over the past 12 months and that older books may be out of date, at least in terms of the look and feel, the underlying query language hasn’t changed as much.

Power Query/Power BI books

Collect, Combine, and Transform Data Using Power Query in Excel and Power BI (Business Skills) Raviv, Gil

Very hands-on, not really one to read unless you follow the examples on a computer but a great grounding. Most of the techniques shown in this blog originate from the examples in this book.

Power Pivot and Power BI: The Excel User’s Guide to DAX, Power Query, Power BI & Power Pivot in Excel 2010-2016 Collie, Rob, Singh, Avichal

Useful introduction, and great if you want to learn the basics of Power Query (the data cleaning side of PBI) without using Power BI itself.

Beginning Power BI: A Practical Guide to Self-Service Data Analytics with Excel 2016 and Power BI Desktop Clark, Dan

Somewhat similar to Collie and Singh but perhaps a better leap before the hard Ferrari below as it discusses contexts.

Pro Power BI Desktop Aspin, Adam

Long but probably the best basic through to intermediate book - watch out for the edition, there’s still old ones on Amazon. If I had to choose one book, it would be this.

Introducing Microsoft Power BI Ferrari, Alberto, Russo, Marco

Ferrari is, well, the Ferrari of PBI. Very knowledgeable and this is by far the more approachable of his two books. if you can take some more complex issues then this is as good as Aspin.

M Is for (Data) Monkey: A Guide to the M Language in Excel Power Query Puls, Ken, Escobar, Miguel

At the time, the only book on M/Power Query and totally invaluable for clever tricks to get data out of sources. See also the Raviv book (above) for data wrangling.

The Definitive Guide to DAX: Business intelligence with Microsoft Excel, SQL Server Analysis Services, and Power BI (Business Skills) Ferrari, Alberto, Russo, Marco

I’ve read some of this book several times and I still don’t fully get it. My lifetime ambition is to one day understand all of it. Very theoretical in places and if you’re doing this day in day out I’m sure it’s invaluable. Or if you are a masochist.

Power BI/Power Query resources

The Microsoft video series is an excellent introduction and the Guy in a Cube Youtube channel always has great material.

R books

Introductory R: A Beginner’s Guide to Data Visualisation, Statistical Analysis and Programming in R, Knell, Robert – useful cheap introductory Kindle book, covers the basics

Data Visualisation: A Practical Introduction, Healy, Kieran – purely from the visual side this is a great intro to R. Think of this as Tufte and Knaflic (see below) plus Healy’s own ideas plus R.

Discovering Statistics Using R, Field, Andy, Miles, Jeremy, Field, Zoe - just started reading this long book which purports to provide an undergraduate (and beyond) introduction to statistics while using R. Based on Field’s similar book for SPSS. It gets very good reviews so there are clearly a lot of people who like smutty humour written for 12 year-old boys.

Quantitative Social Science Data with R: An Introduction, Fogarty, Brian J – rather like Field, Miles, Field but without the smut and less range.

R for Data Science: Import, Tidy, Transform, Visualize, and Model Data, Wickham, Hadley, Grolemund, Garrett – covers all the basics in more detail.

R cookbook: proven recipes for data analysis, statistics and graphics, Teetor, Paul – good as a reminder of what to do, it has a website with much of the text for free.

Ggplot2: Elegant graphics for data analysis (use R!), Wickham, Hadley, Sievert, Carson – Wickham wrote the ggplot2 library and this could be read as an extension of Healy – ranges in complexity

R resources

There is a lot of information about R in many places on the Internet so it’s hard to pick just a few. Don’t forget you can get help within R by using the help() function (or ?) and many packages have vignettes you can view with the vignette function.

The RStudio cheatsheets provide some useful reminders of regularly used aspects of R. The Cran cheatsheet is a single page alternative.

The r-statistics site has a great list of all the ggplot visualisations and the code to produce them.

Other useful books

The classic on data visualisation is Tufte, Edward, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. While dated, the general lessons are still very valid. He also has a website where you can see some of the visuals from this and other of his books.

Knaflic, Cole Nussbaumer, Storytelling with Data is really good on clarity of display. It’s also a quick read.

Cairo, Alberto, The Truthful Art is a slow start to be honest but is highly rated. Seems a bit more oriented to journalism but not a bad thing to see things a different way.

A freebie on the Kindle - Visualisation - visual representations of data and information - Open University - probably worth the money (sic) but very simple.

Finally, the WTF Visualisation website is great fun. Sometimes, seeing what not to do helps with what to do.

Written on August 13, 2019