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Range Queries with Azure DataMarket Feeds

October 17th, 2011

By default the Azure DataMarket does not allow range queries. In fact, the only way we can filter a data feed is through specifying one or more values for the “queryable” fields specified for it. There is not technical reason behind not allowing range queries as both the back-end (presumably SQL Azure, or SQL Server) and the OData protocol support them. Fortunately, there is a way to consume a range of the values in a column of a data feed in PowerPivot. It is not straight-forward and I do not think that the target audience of both self-service BI/PowerPivot and the DataMarket itself would appreciate the complexity, but it could be useful anyway.

If we want to pull all three tables from the DataMarket we can simply use https://api.datamarket.azure.com/BoyanPenev/DateStream/ as the URL in PowerPivot:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Otherwise, we can pick each one with a URL like (for the BasicCalendarEngish table):

https://api.datamarket.azure.com/Data.ashx/BoyanPenev/DateStream/BasicCalendarEnglish

If we filter the data set on the DataMarket website to request only the data for 2010 we get the following URL:

https://api.datamarket.azure.com/Data.ashx/BoyanPenev/DateStream/BasicCalendarEnglish?$filter=YearKey%20eq%202010

Note the last bit:

?$filter=YearKey%20eq%202010

This is simply the URL/OData encoded ?$filter=YearKey = 2010

In OData we can also use other operators, not just = (or eq). For ranges these are gt (greater than), ge (greater than or equal to), lt (less than) and le (less than or equal to). We can also use and and or operators to combine different predicates. For a more thorough list, please refer to http://www.odata.org/developers/protocols/uri-conventions. If we replace the ” = 2010″ with ” < 2010″ and then encode the URL, we do indeed get all years prior to 2010. Things get slightly more complicated when we have a more complex scenario. In example, when building a date table we may want to include all years between 2000 and 2030. To do that, we would have to write something like:

https://api.datamarket.azure.com/Data.ashx/BoyanPenev/DateStream/BasicCalendarEnglish?$filter=YearKey >= 2000 and YearKey <= 2030

encoded, the same looks like this:

https://api.datamarket.azure.com/Data.ashx/BoyanPenev/DateStream/BasicCalendarEnglish?$filter=YearKey%20ge%202000%20and%20YearKey%20le%202030

Here space is %20 and the math comparison operators have been replaced with the OData operators (in red).

If we paste this in PowerPivot and hit “Next”:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…we get exactly what we expect – a table with 30 years.

Things get more complicated if we include the datetime DateKey in the URL. For a single date (e.g. 1900-01-01), we have to use:

https://api.datamarket.azure.com/Data.ashx/BoyanPenev/DateStream/BasicCalendarEnglish?$filter=DateKey = datetime’1900-01-01T00:00:00′

After Applying URL encoding we get:

https://api.datamarket.azure.com/Data.ashx/BoyanPenev/DateStream/BasicCalendarEnglish?$filter=DateKey%20eq%20datetime%271900-01-01T00%3a00%3a00%27

Where %27 is apostrophe and %3a is a colon (for a list of ASCII characters and their URL encoded form we can refer to http://www.w3schools.com/tags/ref_urlencode.asp).

Now, to combine the two we would need to write:

https://api.datamarket.azure.com/Data.ashx/BoyanPenev/DateStream/BasicCalendarEnglish?$filter=DateKey = datetime’1900-01-01T00:00:00′ or (YearKey >= 2000 and YearKey <= 2030)

Encoded this becomes:

https://api.datamarket.azure.com/Data.ashx/BoyanPenev/DateStream/BasicCalendarEnglish?$filter=DateKey%20eq%20datetime%271900-01-01T00%3a00%3a00%27%20or%20%28YearKey%20ge%202000%20and%20YearKey%20le%202030%29

This monstrous-to-write URL string returns 30 years of data + 1 day.

I suppose this approach can be classified as a workaround, as I have not seen any documentation on PowerPivot referring to any options for filtering data from the Azure DataMarket. However, in my opinion, this should be a feature of the DataMarket itself as it would make it easier/possible for users with any tool to get just the data they need and even possibly reduce the load on the site service since it will no longer be necessary to export everything and then attempt to apply a filter.

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