Our use of cookies

We use cookies to tailor your experience, gather analytics, and provide you with live assitance. By clicking "Accept" or continuing to browse our site you agree to the use of cookies. For more details please read our Cookie Policy.

Why use SQList to generate Power BI reports from SharePoint lists, rather than using the Power BI native connector to SharePoint?

The main reason is that in practical terms using the native connector only works for small amount of data and simple queries. When you start using it on lists with many thousands of items and/or want to run queries across many large lists, you soon hit limitations in terms of amount of data you can query and the time it takes to execute them.

When you connect to a data source (e.g. a database, Excel file, or in this case SharePoint lists) from power BI you can choose two way of connecting to it:

  1. Direct query: in this type of connection, Power BI reads the data directly from the source every time you run a report. The advantages of this connection type are a) your report always shows up-to-date data, b) you offload some of the processing to the server providing the data instead of performing all the processing on the machine running Power BI; the only disadvantage is Power BI has to  connect to the data source every time is executes the report that can be affected by slow network connections (not really an issue in a business/corporate environment).
  2. Import: in this case, Power BI first imports all the data from the source into its own database, and then runs the report using that local copy of the data. The advantage of this connection is that, once all data is transferred from the source to the Power BI local database, you do not need to connect to the data source any longer; the disadvantages are a) the transfer of the data can take a long time when you want to report on large data sets, b) you must refresh all data imports every time you want an up-to-date report, c) all data processing is performed by the machine running Power BI which can be intensive in case of complex reports, d) there is a limit to the amount of data you can import (1Gb I think), e) there is a limit to the times you can refresh the data automatically.

AxioWorks SQList continuously export SharePoint lists and libraries as normalised SQL Server tables, making live SharePoint data available to reporting tools like Power BICrystal Reports, or SSRS.

The Power BI built-in connection to SharePoint only allows you to use the “Import” connection type.

Additional advantages of using SQList are:

  • SharePoint data is exported in a normalised form, which is the structure that allows you to execute the most flexible queries and, therefore, reports;
  • SQList can export SharePoint certain data in a format that would require complex configurations and time-consuming processing to obtain using the native connector (e.g. multi-value lookup columns, taxonomy metadata);
  • your SharePoint data is available as SQL Server tables, which gives you the option of overlaying it with SQL views that can greatly enhance access control and performance when generating the reports;
  • you can use “Direct query” connections (in fact, we recommend them) for up-to-date reports that executes very fast as the heavy processing is performed by SQList (which is built for that).
  • configuring SQList can take as little as 5 minutes to have your data available in SQL Server, there is virtually no learning curve and not changes to your environment are necessary;
  • virtually all reporting and BI tools can connect directly to SQL Server tables so all the above is valid for them too (SSR, Crystal Reports, Cognos, Tableau, and so on).

Finally, there are some features that are available in Power BI when using “Import” rather than “Direct query” (this is good summary https://powerbidocs.com/2021/02/21/power-bi-import-vs-direct-query-mode-difference/), but that can be easily replaced by equivalent (and even more powerful) functions in the SQL Server side.

Latest articles

AxioWorks SQList is now available online

27 Sep 2022

We have launched SQList Online! The cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) version of SQList, our on-prem application that makes it extremely easy […]
[read article]

MS Purview : One-Stop-Shop for data governance across your data estate

30 Aug 2022

Every organization utilizes various sources of data often scattered across cloud and on-premises systems. Over time, these data sources continue to […]
[read article]

DevOps in the world of Power Platform using GitHub Actions

31 Jul 2022

DevOps plays a vital role in the success of any software development project but when it comes to building low-code/no-code solutions it is often […]
[read article]

Build your Apps in MS Teams with MS Dataverse for Teams

27 Jun 2022

MS Teams has become one of the most widely used tools for team collaboration and communication in organizations using Microsoft echo-system for […]
[read article]

Dataverse: A one-stop-shop for your App data storage and management

24 May 2022

Data is at the centre of any business application development and is often the deciding factor for which tech. stack to be used for the development. […]
[read article]

AxioWorks Newsletter April 2022: Still working on the next release of SQList…

30 Apr 2022

Hello Reader, Welcome to another exciting issue of our monthly Newsletter! Each month, we try our best to bring to you content that is relevant and […]
[read article]

What’s coming in Power Platform Release wave one of 2022

21 Apr 2022

Due to the ever-rising popularity of the Power platform, Microsoft continues to focus on improving the usability and versatility of the Power […]
[read article]

AxioWorks Newsletter March 2022: Working on the next release of SQList

30 Mar 2022

Hello Reader, Welcome to another exciting issue of our monthly Newsletter! Each month, we try our best to bring to you content that is relevant and […]
[read article]

How to Efficiently Develop and Deploy Solutions in Power Platform

20 Mar 2022

With the Emergence of Low Code to No-Code development platforms, developers have been ever so busy developing solutions utilizing those platforms […]
[read article]

AxioWorks Newsletter February 2022: A good month

28 Feb 2022

Hello Reader, Welcome to another exciting issue of our monthly Newsletter! Each month, we try our best to bring to you content that is relevant and […]
[read article]

Get SharePoint and SQL news to your inbox

Stay up-to-date with industry news and trends, SQL and SharePoint innovations and all the latest from AxioWorks by subscribing to our monthly newsletter.

Subscribe to the AxioWorks newsletter