Tabular Model Designer (SSAS Tabular)

The tabular model designer is part of SQL Server 2012 SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), integrated with Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 or later, with additional project type templates specifically for developing professional tabular model solutions.

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When you install SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), new project templates for creating tabular models are added to the available project types. After creating a new tabular model project by using one of the templates, you can begin model authoring by using the tabular model designer tools and wizards.

In addition to new templates and tools for authoring professional multidimensional and tabular model solutions, the Visual Studio environment provides debugging and project lifecycle capabilities that ensure you create the most powerful BI solutions for your organization. For more information about Visual Studio, see Getting Started with Visual Studio.

When you install SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), the following tabular model project templates are added to the Business Intelligence project types:

Analysis Services Tabular Project

This template can be used to create a new, blank tabular model project.

Import from Server (Tabular)

This template can be used to create a new tabular model project by extracting the metadata from an existing tabular model in Analysis Services.

Import from PowerPivot

This template is used for creating a new tabular model project by extracting the metadata and data from a PowerPivot for Excel file.

Note Note

Tabular model projects require an Analysis Services server instance in tabular mode be running locally or on the network.

The SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT) tabular model authoring environment includes the following:

Designer Window

The designer window is used to author tabular models by providing a visual representation of the model. When you open the Model.bim file, the model opens in the designer window. You can author a model in the designer window by using two different view modes:

Data View

The data view displays tables in a tabular, grid format. You can also define measures by using the measure grid, which can be shown for each table in Data View only.

Diagram View

The diagram view displays tables, with relationships between them, in a graphical format. Columns, measures, hierarchies, and KPIs can be filtered, and you can choose to view the model by using a defined perspective.

Most model authoring tasks can be performed in either view.

Solution Explorer

The Solution Explorer window presents the active solution as a logical container for a tabular model project and its associated items. The model project (.smproj) contains only a References object (empty) and the Model.bim file. You can open project items for modification and perform other management tasks directly from this view.

Tabular model solutions typically contain only one project, however, a solution can contain other projects; for example, Integration Services or Reporting services project. You can add any number of files provided they are not of the same type as tabular model project files and their Build Action property is set to None, or Copy to Output property is set to Do Not Copy.

To view Solution Explorer, click the View menu, and then click Solution Explorer.

Properties Window

The Properties window lists the properties of the selected object. The following objects have properties that can be viewed and edited in the Properties window:

  • Model.bim

  • Table

  • Column

  • Measure

Project Properties display only the project name and project folder in the Properties window. Projects also have additional deployment Options and deployment server settings that you can set using a modal properties dialog box. To view these properties, in Solution Explorer, right click the project, and then click Properties.

Fields in the Properties window have embedded controls that open when you click them. The type of edit control depends on the particular property. Controls include edit boxes, dropdown lists, and links to custom dialog boxes. Properties that are shown as dimmed are read-only.

To view the Properties window, click the View menu, and then click Properties Window.

Error List

The Error List window contains messages about the model state:

  • Notifications about security best practices.

  • Requirements for data processing.

  • Semantic error information for calculated columns, measures, and row filters for roles. For calculated columns, you can double-click the error message to navigate to the source of the error.

  • DirectQuery validation errors.

By default, the Error List does not appear unless an error is returned. You can, however, view the Error List window at any time. To view the Error List window, click the View menu, and then click Error List.


Build and deployment information is displayed in the Output Window (in addition to the modal progress dialog). To view the Output window, click the View menu, and then click Output.

Menu Items

When you install SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), additional menu items specifically for authoring tabular models are added to the Visual Studio menu bar. The Model menu can be used to launch the Data Import Wizard, view existing connections, process workspace data, and browse the model workspace in Microsoft Excel. The Table menu is used to create and manage relationships between tables, create and manage measures, specify data table settings, specify calculation options, and specify other table properties. With the Column menu, you can add and delete columns in a table, hide and unhide columns, and specify other column properties such as data types and filters. You can build and deploy tabular model solutions on the Build menu. Copy/Paste functions are included on the Edit menu.

In addition to these menu items, additional settings are added to the Analysis Services options on the Tools menu items.


The Analysis Services toolbar provides quick and easy access to the most frequently used model authoring commands.

Source Control

Analysis Services projects integrate with the selected source control plug-in. If you have configured Visual Studio to use source control, you can use check in/check out from Solution Explorer. To configure to use Team Foundation Server, see Many third-party source control plug-ins are supported as well.


Tabular models use the Visual Studio environment font to control the fonts in the display. It can be necessary to change this font if the default Visual Studio font does not have all of the Unicode characters you need for your language. To change fonts, click the Tools menu, then click Options, and then click Fonts and Colors.

Keyboard Shortcuts

The Analysis Services keyboard shortcuts can be configured/remapped through the Tools->Options->Keyboard dialog. Some global Visual Studio shortcuts, such as build, save, debug, new project, etc. are supported in the tabular model designer context. Other tabular model designer specific shortcuts are in the Analysis Services context.