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## Power BI Mysterious Calculate Function 3: Time Intelligence

DAX (Data Analysis eXpressions) is the function language in Power BI desktop. When DAX is used to create measures, it can hard to understand the logic at times. Especially one function, the Calculate function, can be challenging.

We visit the mysterious Calculate Function for the third time, in this four part series of blogs.

The Calculate function reacts differently to row, column, filter, and table context than the other DAX functions and the Calculate function is important for nesting other functions.

In this blog post you will see some examples of how the calculate function works with time-intelligence.

## Time Intelligence

The time-intelligence functions that enable you to control data using time periods, including days, months, quarters, and years, and then build and compare calculations over those periods.

Most time-intelligence functions need to be nested inside the Calculate function.

In this example, sales need to be compared up against previous year.

The structure of the Calculate function:

CALCULATE(<expression>[, <filter1> [, <filter2> [, …]]])

In all the examples the expression will be total sales and in the filter arguments, the time-intelligence functions will be nested.

First, the SamePeriodLastYear function.

All time-intelligence functions need to know the primary key in the Dates table (Calendar Table).

Last year = CALCULATE([sales],SAMEPERIODLASTYEAR(Dates[Dates]))

Below in the example a Gauge visual is used. The Sales are added to Value and above measure to Target. The page is filtered to show 2016 by a slicer.

The blue part of the Gauge chart (£20.42m) is the sales for 2016, and the line in the Gauge chart (£13.99m) is last year. In this example 2015.

Below the page is filtered by two slicers to February 2016. The blue part of the Gauge chart (£20.42) is the sales for February 2016, and the line in the Gauge chart (£13.99) is February 2015. The combination of the Calculate and SamePeriodLastYear function will always go back to the same period last year. In this case, to February 2015.

In the next example of the combination of the Calculate and SamePeriodLastYear function. The sales growth needs to be visualised.

The DAX measure used for this: % Growth = DIVIDE([sales]-[Last year],[Last year],0)

The sales minus last year’s sales divided with last year’s sales.

The Last year sales measure from the previous example above, has just been reused here. In the Matrix below right, the Matrix display the percentage difference from previous year and same month previous year.

## Conclusion

I call the Calculate function the mother of DAX functions. It is the most important DAX function (my opinion), but to get the most out of it you will need to understand, how the function reacts to row, column, filter, and table context, and how the Calculate function takes care of other functions

This is part 3 of a series of blog posts as mentioned at the top about the mysterious Calculate function.

In the next blog post in this series, you will see how the mysterious Calculate function is different from other DAX functions when it comes to filter context.

Categories

## Power BI’s Mysterious Calculate Function 2: Filter Context

DAX (Data Analysis eXpressions) is the function language in Power BI desktop. When DAX is used to create measures, it can hard to understand the logic sometimes. Especially one function, the Calculate function, can be challenging.

This is the second part of a series of blog posts, which will investigate the mysterious Calculate function.

It reacts differently to row, column, filter, and table context than the other DAX functions, and will be needed for nesting a number of DAX functions.

In this blog post you will see some examples of how the calculate function works in filter context.

## Matrix visual

In the example below, you can see sales in a matrix visual. The visual displays total sales for each sales rep, and sales for a specific product. In this example, backpacks are the product.

In the example the sales have been filtered and calculated by using the SUMX function.

Sales of Backpack = sumx(filter(Line_Items,RELATED(Items[Product Description])=”backpack”),[sales])

To do it with the SUMX function, you need to use the FILTER function. We need a Related function to reference the column in the Items table, and the expression is the measured total sales.

## Now Using the Calculate Function

Now let us see how to do the same, but this time with the mysterious Calculate function.

Calc Sales Backpack = CALCULATE([sales],Items[Product Description]=”backpack”)

You can now do it with only one function – the Calculate function. This means that you will not need to use the Filter function to filter by the product, and you will no longer need to use the Related function.

See the matrix below. The Calculate measure returns exactly the same as the SUMX measure.

But the mysterious Calculate function can behave may be a way which seems illogical.

Below the matrix has been amended to display sales by product instead of sales rep.

Now the Calculate measure, as you can see above, cannot understand that it needs to filter the table by each product. The SUMX measure can. The Calculate measure just shows the same sales of backpack total for all the products, but it does not sum up all the values in the Total row at the bottom of the matrix.

To get the Calculate function to return the right result, a Filter and a Related function are needed.

Calc Sales Backpack = CALCULATE([sales],filter(Line_Items,RELATED(Items[Product Description])=”backpack”))

Above you can see that the amendment of the Calculate function now shows the expected result.

## But can this special behaviour be useful?

You could be in a situation, where you want to compare the sales of backpack up against the other products. Following on, the next example shows a percentage difference of backpack sales versus other products which needs to be visualised.

Backpack % of other products = DIVIDE([sales],CALCULATE([sales],Items[Product Description]=”backpack”),0)

The measure above will do the job. The Calculate measure without the Filter function or the Related function will return the total sales of backpack in each other product’s rows in the matrix. So that sales for each product will be measured against the sales of backpacks.

Above you can see the result of this approach, and of course the percentage difference from backpack and backpack will return 100%.

## Conclusion

I call the Calculate function the mother of all DAX functions. It is the most important DAX function (my personal opinion), but to get the most out of it you will need to understand, how the function reacts to row, column, filter, and table context.

In the next blog post in this series, you will see how the mysterious function is needed for use of date intelligence in Power BI desktop measures.