Power BI Governance, Good Practices, Part 2: Version Control with OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint Online

Power BI Governance, Version Control with OneDrive for Business, Microsoft Teams and SharePoint Online

One of the most important aspects of the software development life cycle is to have control over different versions of a solution, especially in a project where there is more than one developer involved in the implementation. Just like when you normally create a project in visual studio and you commit the changes back to a source control system like GitHub or Azure DevOps, it’s advised to keep the history of different versions of your Power BI reports. What we expect from a source control solution is to keep tracking of all changes happening in the source code while developing a project. So you can easily roll back to a previous state if you like to. 

The other benefit of having a source control process in place is when multiple developers are working on a single project. Every single one of them makes changes in the source code then they commit all the changes into the source control server without overwriting each others’ work. 

With Power BI things are a bit different though. Power BI report files are PBIX files which are stored in binary format (well, PBIX is basically a zip file isn’t it?) which at the time of writing this post, there is no official way to enforce Power BI source control in any source control solutions like GitHub or Azure DevOps (YET). 

Microsoft announced a fantastic feature last week (6/05/2020) named “Deployment Pipelines” which does exactly what we’re after, but it is currently a preview feature which is only available only to organisations with Power BI Premium. So it is out of the game for the majority of us.

Having said that, there is still a way to keep history of changes in the shape of different versions of PBIX files. This is called Version Control.

There are several ways you can enable version control over your PBIX files while developing the report. Regardless of the version control platform you need to think about having multiple environments and who can access them for doing what.

EnvironmentAccessible toDescription
DevelopmentDevelopersData modellers and report writers access this environment for development purposes.  
User Acceptance Test (UAT)Developers, SMEs, Technical Leads, Power BI AdminsAfter the development is finished the developers deploy the solution to the UAT environment. The solution will then be tested by SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) to make sure the business requirements are met.
Pre-prod (Optional but recommended)Technical Leads, Power BI AdminsAfter the solution passed all UAT testing scenarios Technical Leads or Power BI Admins will deploy it to Pre-prod for final checks to make sure all data sources are correctly pointing to production data sources and all reports and dashboards are working as expected.  
ProductionTechnical Leads, Power BI Admins, End UsersAfter pre-prod checks completed Technical Leads or Power BI Admins deploy the solution to the Production environment which is then available to the end users.

Version Control Options

If your organisation does not have a Premium capacity then “Deployment Pipelines” feature is not available to you. So you need to come up with a solution though. In this section I name some Version Control options available to you

  • OneDrive for Business
  • Microsoft Teams/SharePoint Online
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Analyse Power BI Data in Excel

A while ago I wrote a blog post about Power BI Publisher for Excel. Today I want to explain some new features added to the publisher. In this post you learn how to analyse Power BI data in Excel. Using the new Power BI Publisher for Excel, not only can we pin an Excel range or chart to a Power BI dashboard directly from Excel, but also we are now able to easily connect to a Power BI service, select any group workspaces and analyse a desired report or dataset.

Requirements

  • Desktop versions of Microsoft Excel 2007 and later
  • Download and install Power BI Publisher for Excel
  • Power BI Publisher for Excel add-in will be enabled by default after you install it, however, if you don’t see the “Power BI” tab in the ribbon in Excel you can enable it from File –> Options –> Add-ins –> COM Add-ins –> tick Microsoft Publisher for Excel.

Enable Power BI Publisher for Excel

Connect to and Analyse Power BI Data in Excel

Analyse Power BI Service Reports or Datasets in Excel (From Power BI Service)

Previously we could analyse Power BI data in Excel directly from Power BI service by:

  • Log in to Power BI Service
  • Clicking ellipsis button of a desired dataset and clicking “Analyse in Excel”

Analyse Power BI Data in Excel from Power BI Service

  • Clicking ellipsis button of a desired report and clicking “Analyse in Excel”

Analyse Power BI Reports in Excel from Power BI Service

  • Doing either way, it downloads an “odc” file that could be opened in Excel.

Analyse Power BI Data in Excel from Power BI Service Enable Data Connection

  • Now you can analyse the data in Excel using pivot tables and pivot charts.

Analyse Power BI Data in Excel

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