Jose Mendes

Jose Mendes' Blog

Data Data Revolution

Following the DISCO theme, Adatis decided to present all the SQLBits attendees with a challenge based on the game Dance Dance Revolution. At the end of the game, the players were presented with two Power BI dashboards, one that streamed the data in near real time and the other representing historical data. This blog will detail the different components used in the demo.

  SQLBits Architecture

     (High Level Architecture)

 

The starting point

The first requirement was to have a game that could run on a laptop and store the output data in a file. Based on the theme of the conference, we chose the game Stepmania 5 (https://www.stepmania.com/download/). After understanding how it worked and what type of details we wanted to capture, we adapted the program so it was possible to save the output in a TXT file every time a key was pressed. Following is an example of how the data was structured.

{"Player": "0", "Row": "768", "Direction": "Left", "NoteType": "Tap", "Rating": "OKAY", "Health": "Alive", "Combo": "0", "Score": "0", "Artist": "Katrina feat. Sunseaker", "Song": "1 - Walking On Sunshine", "Difficulty": "Easy"}

 

Capturing player details

To complement the game output, we decided to create an MVC application that had two functions, capturing the player details in an Azure SQL DB, and, upload a new Game ID along with the player details to a reference BLOB stored in an Azure Storage Container.

 

Sending the data to an Event Hub

Since we wanted to stream the data in near real time, we needed an application that could read the data from the output file as soon as it was updated. To achieve this, we built a C# application that was sending the data to an Event Hub. To make sure we didn’t upload duplicate data, we implemented a logic that compared the last row with the previous one. If they were different, the row was uploaded and if not, the program would wait for the next input.

 

Distributing the data

To distribute the data between the Azure SQL DB and the Power BI dataset, we used two separate Stream Analytics Jobs.

The first job was using the Event Hub and the reference BLOB as inputs and the Azure SQL DB as output, while the second job was using the same inputs but having a Power BI dataset as an output. Due to the dataset limitations, we ensured that all the formatting was applied in the Stream Analytics Query (eg. cast between varchar and bigint, naming conventions, …).

 

Power BI streaming datasets

In this scenario, the streaming datasets only work properly when created by the Stream Analytics Job. Any of the following actions invalidates the connection between the jobs and the dataset:

· Create the dataset in Power BI

· Change column names

· Change column types

· Disable the option Historic data analysis

When the dataset crashes, the only solution to fix the issue is to delete and re-create it. As a result, all the linked reports and dashboards are deleted.

 

Representing the data

By the time the demo was built, the connectivity of live datasets to the Power BI Desktop was not available, which means the live streaming dashboard was built using the online interface.

It is important to note that it is impossible to pin an entire page as a dashboard when using live datasets since it won’t refresh as soon as the data is transmitted. Instead, each individual element must be pinned to the dashboard, adding some visual limitations.

clip_image002 

The performance of the players could be followed by checking the dashboard streaming the results in near real time. The use of the word near was used several times in the blog because the streaming is limited not only by the internet connection but also by the Power BI concurrency and throughput constraints, meaning the results were not immediately refreshed.

The second report was built using Power BI Desktop and was connected to the Azure SQL DB.

clip_image004

At the end of the game, the players could obtain the following information:

· Who was the winner

· How did they perform during the game

· The number of hits for each rating

· Which direction they were more proficient

Comments (4) -

  • Tris

    4/11/2017 8:15:33 PM | Reply

    Nice work building this Jose and great blog post. I'm impressed we didn't have any problems given the amount of different components that connected together that we're moving at the same time. The real time nature of the updates was also pretty good, about 3-4 seconds right?

    • josemendes

      4/22/2017 2:31:11 PM | Reply

      Thanks Tris. With good internet connection, the dashboard can refresh around that time yes.

  • uRjt4ecsnc

    8/31/2017 6:52:56 PM | Reply

    290644 584695Quite intriguing  topic , thanks  for  putting up. 766539

  • mtH6ixoISsY

    9/2/2017 8:09:27 AM | Reply

    763886 133210I  genuinely enjoy  searching at  on this site  , it has   great  content material . 980993

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