Microsoft Fabric: Source Control Options for Power BI Developers

Source Control Options for Power BI Developers

In Power BI development in Microsoft Fabric, understanding and utilising source control mechanisms is crucial for efficient collaboration and version management. This blog post delves into the essential aspects of source control for Power BI. This blog also includes the recording of my session at Saudi Arabia’s Excel User Group on the 26th of August 2023. The event was organised by Microsoft MVP, Faraz Sheik, where we walked through all the topics discussed in this blog.

Understanding Source Control

At its core, source control is a system that records changes to a file or set of files over time. This lets developers recall specific versions later, ensuring efficient collaboration and error management. It’s particularly vital for development teams, allowing multiple contributors to work on the same codebase without overwriting each other’s work.

For Power BI developers, this means tracking changes made to reports, and data models that are the most crucial components of every Power BI project.

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Unveiling Microsoft Fabric’s Impact on Power BI Developers and Analysts

Unveiling Microsoft Fabric’s Impact on Power BI Developers and Analysts

Microsoft Fabric is a new platform designed to bring together the data and analytics features of Microsoft products like Power BI and Azure Synapse Analytics into a single SaaS product. Its goal is to provide a smooth and consistent experience for both data professionals and business users, covering everything from data entry to gaining insights. A new data platform comes with new keywords and terminologies, so to get more familiar with some new terms in Microsoft Fabric, check out this blog post.

As mentioned in one of my previous posts, Microsoft Fabric is built upon the Power BI platform; therefore we expect it to provide ease of use, strong collaboration, and wide integration capabilities. While Microsoft Fabric is getting more attention in the market, so we see more and more organisations investigating the possibilities of migrating their existing data platforms to Microsoft Fabric. But what does it mean for seasoned Power BI developers? What about Power BI professional users such as data analysts and business analysts? In this post, I endeavor to answer those questions.

I have been blogging predominantly around Microsoft Data Platforms and especially Power BI since 2013. But I have never written about the history of Power BI. I believe it makes sense to touch upon the history of Power BI to better understand the size of its user base and how introducing a new data platform that includes Power BI can affect them. A quick search on the internet provides some interesting facts about it. So let’s take a moment and talk about it.

The history of Power BI

Power BI started as a top-secret project at Microsoft in 2006 by Thierry D’Hers and Amir Netz. They wanted to make a better way to analyse data using Microsoft Excel. They called their project “Gemini” at first.

In 2009, they released PowerPivot, a free extension for Excel that supports in-memory data processing. This made it faster and easier to do calculations and create reports. PowerPivot got quickly popular among Excel users, but it had some limitations. For example, it was hard to share large Excel files with others, and it was not possible to update the data automatically.

In 2015, Microsoft combined PowerPivot with another extension called Power Query, which lets users get data from different sources and clean it up. They also added a cloud service that lets users publish and share their reports online. They called this new product Power BI, which stands for Power Business Intelligence.

In the past few years, Power BI grasped a lot of attention in the market and improved a lot to cover more use cases and business requirements from data transformation, data modelling, and data visualisation to combining all these goods with the power of AI and ML to provide predictive and prescriptive analysis.

Who are Power BI Users?

Since its birth, Power BI has become one of the most popular and powerful data analysis and data visualisation tools in the world used by a wide variety of users. In the past few years, Power BI generated many new roles in the job market, such as Power BI developer, Power BI consultant, Power BI administrator, Power BI report writer, and whatnot, as well as helping many others by making their lives easier, such as data analysts and business analysts. With Power BI, the data analysts could efficiently analyse the data and make recommendations based on their findings. Business analysts could use Power BI to focus on more practical changes resulting from their analysis of the data and show their findings to the business much quicker than before. As a result, millions of users interact with Power BI on a daily basis in many ways. So, introducing a new data platform that sort of “Swallows Power BI” may sound daunting to those whose daily job relates to content creation, maintenance, or administrating Power BI environments. For many, the fear is real. But shall the developers and analysts be afraid of Microsoft Fabric? The short answer is “Absolutely not!”. Does it change the way we used to work with Power BI? Well, it depends.

To answer these questions, we first need to know who are Power BI users and how they interact with it.

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Integrating Power BI with Azure DevOps (Git), part 2: Local Machine Integration

Integrating Power BI with Azure DevOps (Git), part 2: Local Machine Integration

This is the second part of the series of blog posts showing how to integrate Power BI with Azure DevOps, a cloud platform for software development. The previous post gave a brief history of source control systems, which help developers manage code changes. It also explained what Git is, a fast and flexible distributed source control system, and why it is useful. It introduced the initial configurations required in Azure DevOps and explained how to integrate Power BI (Fabric) Service with Azure DevOps.

This blog post explains how to synchronise an Azure DevOps repository with your local machine to integrate your Power BI Projects with Azure DevOps. Before we start, we need to know what a Power BI Project is and how we can create it.

What is Power BI Project (Developer Mode)

Power BI Project (*.PBIP) is a new file format for Power BI Desktop that was announced in May 2023 and made available for public preview in June 2023. It allows us to save our work as a project, which consists of a folder structure containing individual text files that define the report and dataset artefacts. This enables us to use source control systems, such as Git, to track changes, compare revisions, resolve conflicts, and review changes. It also enables us to use text editors, such as Visual Studio Code, to edit the artefact definitions more productively and programmatically. Additionally, it supports CI/CD (continuous integration and continuous delivery), where we submit changes to a series of quality gates before applying them to the production system.

PBIP files differ from the regular Power BI Desktop files (PBIX), which store the report and dataset artefacts as a single binary file. This made integrating with source control systems, text editors, and CI/CD systems difficult. PBIP aims to overcome these limitations and provide a more developer-friendly experience for Power BI Desktop users.

Since this feature is still in public preview when writing this blog post, we have to enable it from the Power BI Desktop Options and Settings.

Enable Power BI Project (Developer Mode) (Currently in Preview)

As mentioned, we first need to enable the Power BI Project (Developer Mode) feature, introduced for public preview in the June 2023 release of Power BI Desktop. Power BI Project files allow us to save our Power BI files as *.PBIP files deconstruct the legacy Power BI report files (*.PBIX) into well-organised folders and files.
With this feature, we can:

  • Edit individual components of our Power BI file, such as data sources, queries, data model, visuals, etc.
  • Use any text editor or IDE to edit our Power BI file
  • Compare and merge changes
  • Collaborate with other developers on the same Power BI file

To enable Power BI Project (Developer Mode), follow these steps in Power BI Desktop:

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Endorsement in Power BI, Part 2, How to Endorse?

Endorsement in Power BI, Part 2, How to Endorse?

In the previous post I explained the basic concepts around endorsement in Power BI. We discussed that users’ ability to collaborate in creating and sharing artifacts is one of the key aspects of users’ experience in Power BI. But it would be hard, if not impossible, to identify the quality of the artifact without a mechanism to identify the artifact’s quality in large organisations. Endorsement is the answer to this challenge. We discussed the following in the previous post:

In this post, I explain the following:

How do Power BI administrators enable certification and grant rights to security groups?

In the previous post, we discussed that a Power BI administrator must enable certification and grant sufficient rights to the security groups. Therefore, all members of the specified security group are authorised to certify the artifacts. If you are a Power BI administrator, follow these steps to do so:

  1. After logging into Power BI Service, click the Settings button
  2. Click Admin Portal
  3. From the Tenant settings, scroll down to find the Export and sharing settings
  4. Find and expand the Certification setting
  5. Enable certification
  6. Put the certification process documentation URL (if any)
  7. It is not recommended to enable this feature for the entire organisation. So, select the Specific security groups option
  8. Type the security group name and select it from the list
  9. Click the Apply button

The following image shows the above steps:

Enabling certification from the Admin Portal in Power BI Service
Enabling certification from the Admin Portal in Power BI Service

It may take up to 15 minutes for the changes to go through. After that, all the members of the specified security can certify the artifacts. In the next section, we see how to certify the supported artifacts.


Everyone who has “write” permission on the Workspace containing the artifact can promote it. Therefore, the users or security groups with one of the AdminMember, or Contributor roles in the Workspace can promote the artifacts.

However, one should not promote the artifacts just because he/she can. The organisations usually have a promotion process to follow, but the boundaries around promoting are often much more relaxed than certifying it.

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