Power BI Ecosystem Report Authoring Tools Demystified

Power BI Reporting Tools Confusion

There are a lot of discussions these days around Power BI tools to create reports and for sure many of you may have already downloaded and worked with some of them if not all of them. You may also already thought that some of the tools’ names are confusingly similar. I recently had an interesting conversation with fellow who has a lot of SSRS report writing background. I was talking about Paginated reports and said, I downloaded the latest version of Power BI Report Builder… that he immediately said, wait a second…

  • John: Power BI Report Builder? Oh I see, that’s the one that you can create paginated reports with then you can deploy those reports into an SSRS instance.
  • me: NOPE! That’s not the case I’m afraid.
  • John: Oh I know, I meant Power BI Report Server, you can deploy the reports to an instance of Power BI Report Server. I knew it!
  • me: NO! That’s not what I’m talking about…
  • John: What theā€¦?

I bet some of you had similar conversation with a friend or a customer. OK, in this post I explain a little bit about report authoring tools available to you and your organisation to get the most out of your Power BI ecosystem.

Here is a list of all reporting tools currently available to you:

  • Power BI Service: It is a SaaS (Software as a Service) offering from Microsoft in the cloud. The users in an organisation, based on their access rights, may be able to create and publish data, reports, dashboards in Power BI Service. The users can also schedule data refreshes on the published data as well as securely sharing and distributing the contents. While creating or editing reports is possible in Power BI Service, it is strongly recommended to avoid this method for several reasons. The most obvious one is that the changes you make in a report may be soon get overwritten by someone else that republishes the same report from Power BI Desktop. Check this blog post from SQLChick to see why you should avoid creating or editing reports directly from Power BI Service. The reports are downloadable in PBIX format. Use Power BI Service here.
  • Power BI Desktop: It is a desktop report authoring tool that can be used to connect to, or loading data from, varies types of data sources, preparing, transforming and cleansing that data and at last visualising the data. Power BI Desktop is the predominant report authoring tool with a lot more functionalities and flexibility than Power BI Service. For instance, setting up Role Level Security (RLS) is NOT available in Power BI Service. The format of the report file is PBIX. Download Power BI Desktop from here.
  • Power BI Report Builder (Paginated): Paginated reports aka “pixel perfect reports”, as the name resembles, are formatted in a way to fit perfectly on a page. That report page might later be printed. You have exact control over the page formatting to display your data in tables or charts. The reports are not as interactive as Power BI Desktop reports are. Paginated reports are based on RDL technology which is standard report format in SQL Server Reporting Services. The tool for developing paginated report in Power BI ecosystem is Power BI Report Builder. The reports file type is RDL. You can currently publish Paginated reports only to a Workspace that is backed with a premium capacity. Download Power BI Report Builder from here.
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Hold Your Dashboards in Your Pocket, Part 2: Use Your Predefined Dashboards on Your Windows Devices

In a previous post, “Hold Your Dashboards in Your Pocket, Part 1: Use Your Predefined Dashboards on Your IOS Devices“, I explained how to use Power BI app on your IOS devices.

In this post I express how to use Power BI app on your Windows devices. It’s relatively easy to install and use the Windows app.

  • Go to www.powerbi.com and click on the “Download from Windows Store” button

  • It automatically leads to the app page on your Windows Store
  • Click Install to install the app

  • After the app installed successfully open it from start menu


  • Click Sign In

Continue reading “Hold Your Dashboards in Your Pocket, Part 2: Use Your Predefined Dashboards on Your Windows Devices”

Hold Your Dashboards in Your Pocket, Part 1: Use Your Predefined Dashboards on Your IOS Devices

Now it is time to take a step further and learn how to access our dashboards from our IOS or Windows devices. Microsoft designed a very good and handy app for IOS and Windows based tablets. At the moment the Windows app is only available for your laptop or on your Windows based tablet device. First of all you need to download the app on your device.

In this post I explain how to use your IOS devices to browse your dashboards everywhere that you have access to the Internet.


  • Sign-in into Microsoft Power BI website
  • From the right menu click on Download then click on “Power BI for IOS”

  • Click “Download on the App Store”

  • Select your IOS device and then click on “View in iTunes”

Continue reading “Hold Your Dashboards in Your Pocket, Part 1: Use Your Predefined Dashboards on Your IOS Devices”