Friday, 11 December 2015

MS Ignite - Power BI: The Developer Edition (DAT341)

some brief notes on what was learnt in this MS Ignite session

Link to session video:

Covered in the session:
  • A feature to publish Power BI Desktop reports to SQL Reporting Services is coming soon!
  • The Power BI Team is working on tiles able to be embedded on a web page and viewed by anonymous viewers.  Will be able to embed entire dashboard at some point.
  • Link for developer information is at the bottom of power BI home page ( 
  • How to extend Power BI using custom visualisations
  • Can embed Power BI Tiles into PowerPoint presentations
  • REST Api's are available to do things like  list all tiles & dashboard & datasets and tables and groups
  • Can find approved custom visuals here:
  • Can't pin custom visuals to dashboards yet.  team estimates late December
  • You can download Custom Visuals inside the Desktop Application by clicking the '...' shown below

My rushed notes:
  • AAD auth: add application, native client app,  enter redirect URI.  Then configure power BI permission on ur new app in azure.
  • Custom visuals: built in d3.js .  pbi service built with typescript using angularJS.

Develop your own visual:
  • Get github account.
  • Fork the powerbi-visuals repo.
  • Get vs community 2015
  • Install git, node.js.
  • Clone copy of ur forked repo.
  • Run npm install.
  • Getting started.  Before debugging.  Right click pbi-visuals > property pages > set to 'no build'
  • You'll mainly be playing in the clients folder in visual studio.
  • Set index.hmtl as startpage. In pbi visuals playground.
  • Plugins capabilities file will need to be updated if you are creating custom visualisations.
Thanks for reading, if you'd like to know more about Power BI, why not check out some of my previous posts:

Power BI Suites - Which One Do I Use?

I'm presuming you've seen the god-like feature set of Power BI.  I reckon you've probably even opened up browser edition and had a quick play.  Then you've come to the realisation that yeah it is just as awesome as that presenter advised!  But how does it fit together with the rest of the Office 365 suite, and why are there so many different ways to use it!?

Here's a quick historical view of the product and a brief introduction into the pros/cons of each option to help you choose a path based on what your business requirements are.  Truth is, you'll probably want all options available to you, however each new solution might require a certain platform.

If you take ANYTHING away from this post, remember there are three ways you can use the Power BI suite:  Excel Add-Ins, Power BI Online App, Power BI Desktop App...

Excel Power BI Suite (PowerPivot, PowerQuery, PowerMap, PowerView)

Before Power BI became an entity of its own, it was initially birthed as separate add-on's to Excel.  The add-ons are explained in detail below:
  • PowerPivot allowed users to easily pivot millions of rows of data in excel without delays
  • PowerQuery was then introduced to gave users a powerful tool to manipulate & relate data in a repeatable way.  This meant after spending hours cleaning up a dataset, you could now refresh data from a Data Source and it would automatically run the cleanup/washing steps that you had previously performed.  Saving the user having to wash the data every time you needed the latest information.  Power Query also lets your search the internet for public datasets and connect them up with your own private data.
  • PowerMap allowed you display your data on a map.  geographical representing your information
  • PowerView adds additional ways to visualise & interact with your data.  You can even record your interactions for time-based visualisations!

When should I use the Excels Power BI Suite?
  • If you need to display reports in a SharePoint environment, then using excel and displaying on a SharePoint page through an Excel Web Part is the only method at this point.  Currently, Power BI Reports cannot be displayed outside the Power BI platform.
  • If your organisation doesn't have Office 365

Power BI Online Application

This is where Power BI really shines.  If you already have Office365 then you can sign up to the online version of Power BI here:

Easily pull in existing datasets from On Premises or the cloud.  Create reports & dashboards using a plethora of ways to display the data.  Share your results to anyone within your organisation.

When should I use the Power BI Online?
If you already have clean datasets you can easily use and connect to, then use the online edition.  You can't manipulate or wash data so if you need clean your data first then read on.  If you would like to use pre-developed dashboards connected to popular services like Google Analytics, Dynamics CRM, Bing Search, then that can also be done using the Online version.

Power BI Desktop Application

For me, most of my work is done in the Desktop Application.  It is where you go if you need to do some serious development & manipulation of Data & Visualisations.  This is where the Super-User/Data Analyst would spend most of their time.  After you've done the hard work in the Desktop Application, you can still publish the end-result up to the cloud for sharing within the organisation.

When should I use the Power BI Desktop?

  • If you need to be able to wash/manipulate & build relationships on your data before building a nice functional dataset. 
  • If you would like to use some of the custom open-source visualisations available online
  • If you want to use all the features available

Other Consideration (Free or Pro)

Now you know which application to use there's the question of whether you require the features that come with Power BI Pro, or whether you can achieve what you need with the free version.  Below is a feature comparison between the two options (