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 immidiately 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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Quick Tips: How to Enable Dataflows In Power BI Service

Dataflows in Power BI Service

Dataflows (Preview) in Power BI Service has been landed yesterday (6th November 2018). I had a little bit of difficulties to enable this cool new feature so I thought it is good to write a Quick tip about it. While Dataflows is under preveiw at the time of writing this quick tip, the situation may be totally different in the future.

Straight away, fully featured Dataflows is available in a Power BI Premium capacity or in a Power BI Embedded Capacity, but, while this is still in preview, you can take advantage of limited features available in your Power BI Pro license. Features like “Linked entities from other dataflows” or “Computed Entities”, like merging tables to a new table, are not available in a Power BI Pro license.

Dataflows Computed Entities

Enabling Dataflows

  • After sign in to Power BI Service click “Settings”
  • Click “Admin Portal”

Power BI Service Admin Portal

  • Select Capacity type you are in, either Premium or Embedded
  • Click on a desired capacity that you’d like to enable Dataflows

Managing a Premium Capacity in Power BI Admin Portal

  • Scroll down to find and click “Workloads” under “More Options”
  • Enable “Dataflows (Preview)”
  • If you stick to the default “Max Memory (%)” value that is set to 20 you’ll get an error message saying “There was an issue updating your workload setting. Try again in a little while”. The error message is not helpful at all. The reason you get the error message is that the “Max Memory (%)” value must be a number between 27 to 100 while the default is 20.

Enabling Dataflows in Power BI Service Continue reading “Quick Tips: How to Enable Dataflows In Power BI Service”