Rules to Better Power BI

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  1. Do you know how to integrate Power BI with Reporting Services 2016?

    There are 2 ways to integrate Power BI with SSRS (SQL Reporting Services) that will allow you to be able to find all of your relevant reports from wherever you look for them​
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    ​​​In SSRS 2016, you can list Power BI reports as if they were SSRS ones.

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    Figure - Good Example: Power BI dashboards can show charts from ​SSRS reports, and link through to them when clicked.


  2. Do you know how to share links to specific tabs in Power BI reports

    The problem with the standard File | Publish to Web options, is it always goes​ to the same tab of a report, but if you want to send a link to a specific tab, you have to do one more step...

    Do the above as usual, and then go to that published public report, and navigate to the tab you want to send people to. 

    At the bottom right hand corner of the screen, there is a share icon. Click this for a sharable URL for that tab (people can still navigate to other tabs as needed, but will start on the one you've chosen.



  3. Do you know not to use Alphabetical Sorting?

    The default sort order for most visualizations​ is alphabetical, but you should almost always change this.​

    ​​Alphabetical sorting is really only good if you're specifically looking for one item on the X axis, but it's terrible for seeing ranks, trends, or proportions.​​

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    ​​Figure - Bad Example: Alphabetical gives very little information
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    ​​Figure - Good Example: Sorting by value shows rank and trends easily
  4. Do you know the difference between Calculated Columns and Measures in Power BI?

    When you run into a wall in Power BI and feel like you've exhausted the out of the box functionality, that when it's time to investigate what a bit of DAX can do for you. 

    There are 2 different things​ you can do with DAX, create a Measure or a Calculated Column.​

    Calculated columns:

    • Stored in the database
    • Often used to filter/group data

    Measures:

    • Computed on aggregates of values
    • Computed at query time
    • Often used to give a numerical metric

    GroupingColumn = if(value<x, small, if(value<y, medium, large))

    Figure - Good Example: Nested if statements are a great way to split up your data into groups

  5. Do you know where to save reports?

    You can save report under My Workspace and share it with your team. This is bad because if you leave your company, your report is gone!

    It's better to save reports under Group Workspace and share it with the team.​

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    Figure: Bad example - saving report under My Workspace
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    Figure: Good example - saving report under Group Workspace
    1. Group work space requires all users to have pro license ($10 / month)
    2. Group work space cannot share report and dashboard via embed link
    3. Until Microsoft fixes PowerBI's group sharing, it's better to use My Workspace with a shared account (i.e. powerbi@ssw.com.au )
  6. Do you use Email Subscriptions to get the reports you need in your inbox?

    Pro users can quickly subscribe to emails of the report pages that matter most. Once subscribed, Power BI will regularly send screenshots of the report page directly to your inbox.​
     
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    Figure: Many people love getting reports in their inbox monthly​​

  7. Do you use version control with Power BI?

    ​​​​​​​Prior to the April 2016 update, storing a Power BI Report in version control could be prohibitive, as pbix files contain the dataset and report definition, which in some cases can be gigabytes in size.

    The April 2016 update features the ability to export a Power BI Report template (pbit) file, which contains the report definition minus the dataset.

    If the pbix file size is not too large, you may choose to store it directly in source control. When a pbix file is very large, then it may be more economical to store the template (pbit file) only in source control.  

    Here’s the pros and cons we’ve found for each file type:

    Template pbit files are small, but when you open a template in Power BI Desktop, the dataset needs to reload.  If the changes you need to make to a report are small, waiting for a dataset reload can be frustrating (e.g. waiting 10 minutes for the reload to do a one-minute change). The Power BI pbix file will still be required to publish to Power BI Online.

    Power BI pbix files can get very large, but when you open them, the data is there and you can immediately make changes to the report. However, if your workplace is geographically dispersed, then upload and download times to/from source control will be a consideration.

    Having a mixed set of rules for storing different file types based on their size will quickly get messy if you have a number of reports, so make a decision to go one way or the other based on your environment.

     
    Figure: Bad Example – Mixed Template and Power BI Files in Source Control

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    Figure: Good Example – Single File Type in Source Control


    To export a template from Power BI Desktop, select File | Export | Power BI template from the menu, enter a description, file name and click save, as per the below figures.

     

    Figure: Exporting a Power BI Template from Power BI Desktop

    Add comments describing the changes made to the report and append to these, in descending order, each time a change is made. This way the history will be at hand each time the template is opened.
     

    Figure: Enter a Description for the Template

     

    Figure: Enter a File Name and Save

    Save your pbix file to the same folder as the template above, you’ll need these if you want to publish your report to Power BI Online.  

    If you’ve decided to store template pbit files in source control, ensure you’ve set your source control application to ignore *.pbix files.