Thursday, September 17, 2015

Power BI Desktop with a Live Connection - Creating Analytical Reports without saving data in Power BI

Many use or plan Microsoft Power BI for reporting and dashboard solutions with an assumption that is, Power BI always loads selected data for forming an analytical model and saving with it, just like using Power Pivot and View with Excel. This leads to a question: If a business user wants to create a report for analysis, can she/he directly connect with the source and create without loading data into client application?

With Power BI Desktop, it is possible. But it is possible only with Analysis Services Tabular Mode database as a source. User can create his own report connecting with Analysis Services Tabular instance and save the report, just like creating a report using Reporting Services Report Builder.

Here are the steps for connecting and creating a report;

Open Power BI Desktop and Connect with Analysis Services Tabular Mode instance. 

And make sure that Explore the Tabular model by using a live connection radio button is selected.

As you see with below screen, you cannot select entities and attributes but the model.

Once connected, all elements and attributes are shown just like a usual connection allowing you to create reports as you want. Once done, you can save it, and you will see that saved file is very small compared to general Power BI files.

Generally business users do not upload created reports if there is no requirement on sharing. But if it is required, can we upload the created report to Power BI services just like other reports created?

If you try to publish this report, you will get following issue;

An error occurred while attempting to publish Test.pbix.

This can be handled by installing and configuring Analysis Services Connector. Once it is installed, it can be used for connecting and creating reports and published reports will connect to your source via that.

For more info on that and how to install, read this: Configure a Power BI Analysis Services Connector

For more info on How to create reports using Power BI Desktop, read this: Getting started with Power BI Desktop

For more info on How to create reporting using Analysis Services Tabular data, read this: Analysis Services Tabular data in Power BI Desktop

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