Be Fitbit BI Developer in Few Steps: First Step Get Data from CSV


Power BI made things really easy, it isn’t hard to build dashboards and data analysis on almost any types of data sources. Previously in other sections of the online book; Power BI from Rookie to Rockstar I’ve mentioned few data sources and ways of connecting to them. In this post I like to show you how Power BI easily works with CSV or Text files. CSV or Text files can be in different formats, but for this example I through using Fitbit exported CSV data sounds to be great demo. The reason is that you probably have seen your Fitbit dashboard in the website as below:


So for this post we are going to build that dashboard (not all of that obviously, because we don’t have the data required for all of that), but most part of it with Power BI. You will see how easy and powerful is Power BI in this kind of scenarios, and you will see how you can be the BI Developer of Fitbit in a few steps of building this demo.

Before start I have to apologize in advance to Fitbit developer team, and I have to say that I don’t want to say they are not doing anything. Obviously they are doing great job, and the most part of this great job is hidden from our view, they are mashing up the data to build it in the way that can be visualized best. So I admire them because of their efforts. In this post I just want to show how easy is to build dashboards with Power BI when the data is available in CSV or Text format.

So Let’s get started. Fitbit devices are usually smart bands that measure your steps, number of floors, calories spent, heart rate and some other information. You can always download an extracted version of your activities as CSV file from your account page in Fitbit website. This always gives you a month period of data. So if you want the data to be exported for two different month, you will end up with two CSV files.


I have exported my Fitbit activities history from the time that I got it as a gift (Great gift I have to say 🙂 ) till now, which is 5 months.


Here is sample data set in files:


I start reading data from CSV in Power BI Desktop with Get Data from CSV. But this is the result I get:


Well, this is happening because of the very first record in CSV file which is the header row, as you see below;


The first row doesn’t have any delimiter, and that is why Power BI Desktop THINKS that this is a one column CSV file. To fix this issue you can use two approaches:

  • Manually change each CSV file and remove the header row, and save it back.
  • Write few lines in Power Query scripts and get rid of the first line through script automatically.

The first approach isn’t my favorite as it is manual, and won’t be so much of use in real world cases when you have 1000s of files. so let’s go with the second. Click on Edit and go to Query Editor window. There you can click on Advanced Editor to Change the code.


In the Advanced Editor window you see the M script that generates the output.


Change the Code to below;

    Source = Table.FromColumns({Lines.FromBinary(File.Contents("C:\Users\Reza\SkyDrive\Blog\PowerBIBook\PQ1\CSV\SourceFiles\fitbit_export_201507.csv"),null,null,1252)})

Now you can see the result as full data in one column rather than only first column with date values.


Follow steps below to shape the data for using the best in report;

Get rid of first record with Remove Rows, and then choosing 1 top row to remove;


You can also remove any blank rows at the end of report


Then select Column1 and Got to Transform Tab, Choose Split Column, then By Delimiter


Leave the options as default (which is delimiter Comma, and Split at each occurrence of the delimiter) in Split Column by Delimiter dialog box and continue. You will see how columns all split as below;


Set the first row as header, which going to Home Tab in Query Editor window and click on Use First Row As Headers option.


This option will rename all column headers to the values from the first row;


Now change data type of Distance column to Decimal, and all other columns (except Date) to Whole Number


For the Date Column itself you can’t always change the type that easily, because the Date conversion works with locale of your system. As you see in screenshot below the Date format is DD-MM-YYYY which not always equal to locale of all systems.


If you try to convert it you might get an error. So because of that I convert it through M script. Click on Add Column, and then choose Custom Column. Here is where you can write M script to generate new column. the script is:



The locale that you might be using might be different. Here are list of culture and locale information. After doing that you will see Dated Column added to the end of table with Date data type. Now you can remove the original Date column and move the new Dated Column to the beginning of the table as below;


So our data is ready now to work with. And this is the final M script of our work;

    Source = Table.FromColumns({Lines.FromBinary(File.Contents("C:\Users\Reza\SkyDrive\Blog\PowerBIBook\PQ1\CSV\SourceFiles\fitbit_export_201507.csv"),null,null,1252)}),
    #"Removed Top Rows" = Table.Skip(Source,1),
    #"Split Column by Delimiter" = Table.SplitColumn(#"Removed Top Rows","Column1",Splitter.SplitTextByDelimiter(",", QuoteStyle.Csv),{"Column1.1", "Column1.2", "Column1.3", "Column1.4", "Column1.5", "Column1.6", "Column1.7", "Column1.8", "Column1.9", "Column1.10"}),
    #"Changed Type" = Table.TransformColumnTypes(#"Split Column by Delimiter",{{"Column1.1", type text}, {"Column1.2", type text}, {"Column1.3", type text}, {"Column1.4", type text}, {"Column1.5", type text}, {"Column1.6", type text}, {"Column1.7", type text}, {"Column1.8", type text}, {"Column1.9", type text}, {"Column1.10", type text}}),
    #"Promoted Headers" = Table.PromoteHeaders(#"Changed Type"),
    #"Removed Blank Rows" = Table.SelectRows(#"Promoted Headers", each not List.IsEmpty(List.RemoveMatchingItems(Record.FieldValues(_), {"", null}))),
    #"Changed Type1" = Table.TransformColumnTypes(#"Removed Blank Rows",{{"Steps", Int64.Type}, {"Calories Burned", Int64.Type}, {"Floors", Int64.Type}, {"Minutes Sedentary", Int64.Type}, {"Minutes Lightly Active", Int64.Type}, {"Minutes Fairly Active", Int64.Type}, {"Minutes Very Active", Int64.Type}, {"Activity Calories", Int64.Type}, {"Distance", type number}}),
    #"Added Custom" = Table.AddColumn(#"Changed Type1", "Dated", each Date.FromText([Date],"en-NZ")),
    #"Changed Type2" = Table.TransformColumnTypes(#"Added Custom",{{"Dated", type date}}),
    #"Removed Columns" = Table.RemoveColumns(#"Changed Type2",{"Date"}),
    #"Reordered Columns" = Table.ReorderColumns(#"Removed Columns",{"Dated", "Calories Burned", "Steps", "Distance", "Floors", "Minutes Sedentary", "Minutes Lightly Active", "Minutes Fairly Active", "Minutes Very Active", "Activity Calories"})
    #"Reordered Columns"

However we have some other files to work with as well, and they all have same structure. We can use M Script to loop through all files in the source directory and load them one by one automatically, but that would make this post a very long post, and requires also a bit of scripting which you might not like. I will explain that part in the next section. For now just for you to stay interested here is a glance of a sample report at the end of this effort (we will build that together through next steps);








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Reza Rad
Trainer, Consultant, Mentor
Reza Rad is a Microsoft Regional Director, an Author, Trainer, Speaker and Consultant. He has a BSc in Computer engineering; he has more than 20 years’ experience in data analysis, BI, databases, programming, and development mostly on Microsoft technologies. He is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP for 12 continuous years (from 2011 till now) for his dedication in Microsoft BI. Reza is an active blogger and co-founder of RADACAD. Reza is also co-founder and co-organizer of Difinity conference in New Zealand, Power BI Summit, and Data Insight Summit.
Reza is author of more than 14 books on Microsoft Business Intelligence, most of these books are published under Power BI category. Among these are books such as Power BI DAX Simplified, Pro Power BI Architecture, Power BI from Rookie to Rock Star, Power Query books series, Row-Level Security in Power BI and etc.
He is an International Speaker in Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft Business Applications Summit, Data Insight Summit, PASS Summit, SQL Saturday and SQL user groups. And He is a Microsoft Certified Trainer.
Reza’s passion is to help you find the best data solution, he is Data enthusiast.
His articles on different aspects of technologies, especially on MS BI, can be found on his blog:

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