5 Step Plan to Learn DAX for Power BI

In my as-yet-incomplete journey to master the DAX language for solving problems in Power BI, I have come across a few resources that, when consumed in the right order and at the right time, provide a good guide for learning how to create those super powerful calculated columns and measures in Power BI.

In fact, without being able to use DAX, and the related “Get Data” query building tools in Power BI, you really aren’t getting full value from your investment in Power BI. So either

  1. A) learning DAX or
  2. B) finding someone who knows DAX

will be important for you to get full value from Power BI.

My experience learning and mastering DAX has not been a linear process. You will often take 2 or 3 steps forward, and then 1 step back. You will not be able to learn everything at once. You will learn what you need, then go back and learn more. You will get stuck, then need to dive deeply into learning something new and break through.

So without further ado, here’s my recommended learning plan in 5 steps:

Step 1: Power BI Fundamentals

Now before you start to learn DAX, make sure you get the basics of Power BI mastered, as this will provide context for learning. Microsoft does a good job of providing video tutorials for Power BI. Focus on Power BI and Power BI Desktop…it’s the Power BI Desktop tool where you will get your DAX on.

Step 2: Microsoft Guided Learning Introduction to DAX

These series of videos provide a good foundation for starting to learn DAX, including code examples.


Step 3: Back to Power BI

You must apply what you have learned now, in order to reach the next “learning plateau” and be ready for Step 4. Pick and choose a handful of techniques and solutions from the videos series before you press on. Get some wins, and get stuck and frustrated…only then will you ready for the next step, grasshopper.

Step 4: “Power Pivot and Power BI: The Excel User’s Guide to DAX, Power Query, Power BI & Power Pivot in Excel 2010-2016”

This book is a terrific resource from Rob Collie and Avi Singh. The book is organized for a logical sequence of learning, and really well done. I still refer to it often.

You can find the book here on Amazon.

Another useful resource from the authors is the related PowerPivot(Pro) website: https://www.powerpivotpro.com/

Step 5: “The Definitive Guide to DAX – Business Intelligence with Microsoft Excel, SQL Server Analysis Services and Power BI”

Now trying to understand the material in this book by Alberto Ferrari and Marco Russo before working through the previous steps will likely make your head hurt and your eyes bleed….so don’t do that. When you are *really* ready to figure out how the CALCULATE() function works, this book will get you there. Again, something I continue to read, learn from, and refer to even after a year of working with DAX.

You can find the book here on Amazon.

Another useful resource from the authors is the related SQLBI website: http://www.sqlbi.com/


That’s it…this ought to get you going in the right direction, and keep you busy learning for many months to come!