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Lesson 1: Create a New Tabular Model Project

In this lesson, you will create a new, blank tabular model project in SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT). Once your new project is created, you can begin adding data by using the Table Import Wizard. In addition to creating a new project, this lesson also includes a brief introduction to the tabular model authoring environment in SQL Server Data Tools.

To learn more about the different types of tabular model projects, see Tabular Model Projects (SSAS Tabular). To learn more about the tabular model authoring environment, see Tabular Model Designer (SSAS Tabular).

Estimated time to complete this lesson: 10 minutes


This topic is the first lesson in a tabular model authoring tutorial. To complete this lesson, you must have the AdventureWorksDW2012 database installed on a SQL Server instance. For more information, see Tabular Modeling (Adventure Works Tutorial).

Create a New Tabular Model Project

To create a new tabular model project

  1. In SQL Server Data Tools, on the File menu, click New, and then click Project.

  2. In the New Project dialog box, under Installed Templates, click Business Intelligence, then click Analysis Services, and then click Analysis Services Tabular Project.

  3. In Name, type AW Internet Sales Tabular Model, then specify a location for the project files.

    By default, Solution Name will be the same as the project name, however, you can type a different solution name.

  4. Click OK.

Understanding the SQL Server Data Tools Tabular Model Authoring Environment

Now that you’ve created a new tabular model project, let’s take a moment to explore the tabular model authoring environment in SQL Server Data Tools (Visual Studio 2010 or later).

After your project is created, it opens in SQL Server Data Tools. An empty model will appear in the model designer and the Model.bim file will be selected in the Solution Explorer window. When you add data, tables and columns will appear in the designer. If you don’t see the designer (the empty window with the Model.bim tab), in Solution Explorer, under AW Internet Sales Tabular Model, double click the Model.bim file.

You can view the basic project properties in the Properties window. In Solution Explorer, click AW Internet Sales Tabular Model. Notice in the Properties window, in Project File, you will see AW Internet Sales Tabular Model.smproj. This is the project file name, and in Project Folder, you will see the project file location.

In Solution Explorer, right-click the AW Internet Sales Tabular Model project, and then click Properties. The AW Internet Sales Tabular Model Property Pages dialog box appears. These are the advanced project properties. You will later set some of these properties when you are ready to deploy your model.

Now, let’s look at the model properties. In Solution Explorer, click Model.bim. In the Properties window, you will now see the model properties, most important of which is the DirectQuery Mode property. This property specifies whether or not the model is deployed in In-Memory mode (Off) or DirectQuery mode (On). For this tutorial, you will author and deploy your model in In-Memory mode.

When you create a new model, certain model properties are set automatically according to the Data Modeling settings that can be specified in the Tools\Options dialog box. Data Backup, Workspace Retention, and Workspace Server properties specify how and where the workspace database (your model authoring database) is backed up, retained in-memory, and built. You can change these settings later if necessary, but for now, just leave these properties as they are.

When you installed SQL Server Data Tools, several new menu items were added to the Visual Studio environment. Let’s look at the new menu items that are specific to authoring tabular models. Click on the Model menu. From here, you can launch the Table Import Wizard, view and edit existing connections, refresh workspace data, browse your model in Microsoft Excel with the Analyze in Excel feature, create perspectives and roles, select the model view, and set calculation options.

Click on the Table menu. Here, you can create and manage relationships between tables, create and manage, specify date table settings, create partitions, and edit table properties.

Click on the Column menu. Here, you can add and delete columns in a table, freeze columns, and specify sort order. You can also use the AutoSum feature to create a standard aggregation measure for a selected column. Other toolbar buttons provide quick access to frequently used features and commands.

Explore some of the dialogs and locations for various features specific to authoring tabular models. While some items will not yet be active, you can get a good idea of the tabular model authoring environment.

Next Steps

To continue this tutorial, go to the next lesson: Lesson 2: Add Data.