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Is it possible to directly query geographic spatial data form SQL Server in PowerBI like its possible with Tableau? https://cloudblogs.microsoft.com/sqlserver/2018/05/14/visualize-geographic-spatial-data-from-sql-server-directly-in-tableau-2018-1/

I know there is the "workaround" with ArcGIS Online but this means I have to keep two datasets up to date, the ArcGIS Online shapefile and the spatial data in SQL Server.

  • PowerBI will read LAT/LON as points out of the box, but requires the Mapbox extension to do anything with polygons or lines, from what we have figured out... I will try to get some more info from some folks around here. – DPSSpatial May 31 at 15:10
  • Thanks, I'm in particular interested in querying polygons from SQL Server – SQuirreL Jun 3 at 0:33
  • DPSSpatial could you gather any more information? – SQuirreL Jun 11 at 0:46
  • I have a meeting tomorrow to discuss... – DPSSpatial Jun 11 at 12:33
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So my research at this point points to NO... which is startling. I even watched an entire ESRI UC presentation on the subject from last summer (link), and even investigating the Mapbox components, here are my conclusions:

  • There is no way to display native SQL Server geometry in PowerBI
  • The ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI seem to only point to LAT/LON data in your table - NOT your geodatabase, or even the geometry in the back-end of your SQL Server-driven geodatabase
  • ArcGIS Maps for PowerBI does give added heatmap and other drive-time analyses, basemaps, etc., but again only being driven from LAT/LON
  • If you point to columns containing addresses or zip codes, it will simply geocode those locations against ArcGIS services, rather than draw the geometry you already have in your SQL Server database
  • Mapbox for PowerBI is similar to ArcGIS for PowerBI, though we have a bit more research to do, the allure of Mapbox's version is the ability to bring in custom basemaps.

I'm sorry I don't have much more to report, as this seems like a no-brainer for the "ArcGIS / Microsoft Relationship". It seems they are treating maps in PowerBI the same way they have handled geometry in SQL Server - leave it to ArcGIS, and if they can't do it, it can't be done.

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None of the publicly-available map visuals in Power BI, whether native or custom, currently know how to use SQL spatial data, which indeed puts Power BI behind Tableau in using Microsoft's own technology. You have to use either locations at various levels (typically country, US state) or latitude/longitude. I'm including ArcGIS and Mapbox, with which I have a lot of experience (I'm a Power BI guy doing a fair amount of mapping.) With the Mapbox visual you can use your own map styles defined in Mapbox Studio.

However this will change soon as the Icon Map visual from Altius should hit the marketplace by the end of the June 2019 with support for SQL spacial data and WKT. Source, the very end of this video.

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