Some Questions and Answers around the Power BI Desktop Store App

Until recently, the only way to install Power BI Desktop was to download and install the .exe installer from powerbi.com. Which was an easy way of a next – next – next setup approach. But: the user needed admin-rights to install and/or update Power BI Desktop.

Which should not pose a problem to most of the users but in some (bigger)  companies admin-rights are not there for everybody. Together with the monthly update releases it was sometimes not easy to distribute the newest Power BI Desktop releases to all users in those companies.

At Ignite 2017, the Power BI team announced (together with other announcements) that Power BI Desktop is now available in the Windows 10 Store. Same binaries, same functionality – with one BIG advantage: no admin rights because the store itself handles the updates (in the background). In addition, there is also a save in download size because only those binaries that are changed get updated.

pbidesktop_store02

Question: How to install the Power BI Desktop Store App?

Question: How about a Side-By-Side installation of the download-install-version and the Store App?

  • Well, on my machine it works. And according to the answers following my twitter question also on others’ machines.
  • As of today, the Store App and  native application have the same binaries version. I will test it in the next month with an auto-update of the Store App versus a non updated native application.

Question: My start menu contains two “Power BI Desktop” links… Which one is the Store App? Which one the native application?

  • When searching for “Power BI Desktop” in the Windows 10 start menu, you’ll get two entries: “Power BI Desktop” is the native application (also marked with Desktop app), whereas the Store App is named “Microsoft Power BI Desktop”

pbidesktop_store04

Question: What about the future: Will the native application be discontinued?

  • Based on my current knowledge, both versions will continue to exist in the future.. no warranty whatever Microsoft decides in the future

Question: Are there any feature differences between the Store App and the native app?

  • Both versions provide the same feature set. I will have to test i.e. specific connectors but basically, they are the same

 

Happy Power BI-ing,

Wolfgang

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Power BI Desktop – Jetzt als Windows Store App

Power BI Desktop war bis vor kurzem nur als Installationspaket erhältlich.  Was ja an und für sich kein Problem war – jedoch war es durch die monatlichen Updates ab und zu ein Problem die Software für Benutzer ohne Administratorberechtigungen zu installieren. Und genau diese fehlenden Administratorberechtigungen waren sehr oft das Hindernis, dass Firmenbenutzer nicht mit der aktuellsten Power BI Desktop Version arbeiten konnten.

Auf der Ignite 2017 wurde nun angekündigt, dass Power BI Desktop nun auch als Windows Store App verfügbar ist. Hervorzuheben ist hier die automatische Aktualisierung der Software – keine Admin-Berechtigungen. Sobald eine neue Version verfügbar ist, wird diese durch die Standard-Windows-Store Funktionalität ausgerollt. Und dies auch noch ressourcensparender, da der Store nur die wirklich geänderten Binaries neu herunterlädt.

pbidesktop_store01

Frage: Wie finde ich nun die Windows Store App?

  • Windows Store öffnen
  • nach “Power BI Desktop” suchen (oder direkt: http://aka.ms/pbidesktopstore)
  • die Anwendung installieren und denselben Funktionsumfang wie mit der installierten Variante genießen 🙂

Frage: Ist eine Side-by-Side Installation möglich?

  • Auf meinem Rechner funktioniert die Side-by-Side Installation. Ich habe jedoch keine Dokumentation gefunden, ob dies auch unterstützt bzw. in Zukunft auch so sein wird.

Frage: Welcher Link im Start Menü ist die App? Welcher die Install-Variante?

  • Wird im Start Menü nach “Power BI Desktop” gesucht, bekommt man bei einer Side-By-Side Installation die beiden Varianten zurückgeliefert. Die Install-Variante bekommt den Zusatzhinweis “Desktop App”, die Store-Variante ist in der Gruppe “Apps” versteckt.

pbidesktop_store04

Frage: Wird es in Zukunft nur mehr die Store App geben?

  • Nein – Parallel dazu wird es auch (so zumindest ist es aktuell kommuniziert) auch die Installationsvariante geben (z.B. für ältere, “non-Windows 10” Betriebssysteme).

Frage: Gibt es Funktions-/Feature-Unterschiede zwischen Install und Windows Store Variante?

  • Sind mir keine bekannt. Es sollte sich um dieselbe Software handeln.

 

Zum Store-Link:  http://aka.ms/pbidesktopstore

Happy Power BI-ing,

Wolfgang

pbidesktop_store01

pbidesktop_store03

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Power BI Theming – Chart Style Controls

With the September 2017 release of Power BI Desktop several goodies have been added to the PBI Desktop feature set. One of the mostly awaited is the Drillthrough feature which will not be the topic of this blog post. Another announcement in the changelog got my attention: Theming preview update – chart style controls!

For me personally, this functionality is a huge step forward in bringing/integrating a Corporate Identity (CI) functionality into the Power BI universe. With the first round of theming support back in March 2017, we got support for defining our custom reporting/data colors. The default Power BI color scheme always reminds me of the default colors for excel charts.. hmm.. maybe not the best choices at all! 🙂

If you apply a custom report theme with your favorite colors you’ll get something like this:

pbi_theming_01

 

Chart Style Controls

The first version of Theming support allowed you to specify up to 10 data colors plus background, foreground and a tableAccent color.

{
“name”: “Wolfgang Theme”,
    “dataColors”: [
        “#6876ff”,
        “#a9d1f4”,
        “#63bb80”,
        “#783b3c”,
        “#000831”,
        “#141256”,
        “#d0d0d7”
    ],
    “background”: “#f2f2f3”,
    “foreground”: “#575760”,
    “tableAccent”: “#aba9f4”
}

With the September PBI Desktop release, we are now able to control more settings of chart / visual controls within the report theme.

To achieve this the theme JSON file needs to be extended with the visualStyles directive. This directive allows the theme designer to control the style of a specific visual OR if you want to generally set a setting you can use “*” to set a default value. The structure of the visualStyles directive is defined as follows:

pbi_theming_02

Power BI Theming – Control Styles definition layout

The theme documentation provides a list of available visual names, cardNames and property names.

At this point some further explanation is needed for the hierarchy within the theme definition:

  • visualName corresponds to available PBI visuals like treeMap, card, columnChart,…
  • styleName (as of today I am not sure whereto this corresponds to PBI Desktop language.. :-)) maybe someone can further explain this to me
  • cardName corresponds to the formatting card/option within Power BI Desktop. Attention here: the name in the theme JSON file is defined different than the User Interface name + do not forget case-sensitivity! (i.e.  general => General; categoryAxis => X-Axis, valueAxis => Y-Axis, ..). See the documentation for the rest of the mapping.
pbi_theming_03

PBI Desktop – formatting options and their relationship to theming JSON.

  • propertyName and propertyValue defines the property itself plus the value that should be used after the theme is applied. For some of the properties there are enumerations of allowed values defined. Also for this case the documentation defines the allowed values:
pbi_theming_04.jpg

Power BI Theming – excerpt of available propertyValue enumerations!

But now – let’s try it!

For my first example I wanted to define a common font-size plus font-family. In order to achieve this I added the new JSON directive for visualStyles and defined a default for all visuals ,styleNames and cardNames (by using “*”). Within there I used the porperty Names fontSize and fontFamily to define the common font attributes. See the JSON excerpt:

pbi_theming_05.jpg

Defining common fonts for PBI reports

The initial PBI sample report looked like this:

pbi_theming_06

When the new theme is applied (including the common font definition) the report looks like. As you can see the common font size and font family is changed. What I did not managed for my first try is to also change the title font.. but I work on that.

pbi_theming_07

 

The overall theme (including common font definition):

{
    "name": "Wolfgang Theme",
    "dataColors": [
        "#6876ff",
        "#a9d1f4",
        "#63bb80",
        "#783b3c",
        "#000831",
        "#141256",
        "#d0d0d7"
    ],
    "background": "#f2f2f3",
    "foreground": "#575760",
    "tableAccent": "#aba9f4",
    "visualStyles":{
        "*":{
            "*":{
                "*":[{
                    "fontSize":14,
                    "fontFamily":"Courier New"
                }]
            }
        }
     }
}

Open questions:

  • Where do we find the right property names plus allowed values etc. for all the different properties?
  • Why is the fontfamily not applied to the titles?

With that – the custom control styles feature looks veeeeeery promising. I hope there will be an easy way in the future to get to all the required property information for the report themes.

Corporate Identity in Power BI Reports .. here we come!

Have fun and Happy Power BI-ing,

Wolfgang

The documentation for creating report theme files can be found here: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/powerbi-desktop-report-themes

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Power BI Report Server – Download of August 2017 Preview

If you are looking for the latest and greatest bits of Power BI Report Server (PBIRS) powerbi.com is the right address to find the installation exe:

pbirs_2017_aug_06.png

  • scroll down the page and almost at the end of the page you’ll find the link for August 2017 Preview.

pbirs_2017_aug_07.png

Happy Power BI-ing,

Wolfgang

 

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Power BI Report Server – Where to find the optimized Power BI Desktop version?

If you want to publish Power BI reports to you Power BI Report Server (PBIRS) instance you need a specialized version of Power BI Desktop. With the August 2017 of PBIRS there is also an updated version of Power BI Desktop available.

Search Area 1 – PBIRS installation package

On one of the announcements sites it was mentioned that the Desktop version is included in the download. But – after the download and installation of PBIRS August 2017, there was no Power BI Desktop installed in my environment. The only entry in my start menu included the Report Server Configuration Manager.. no traces of Power BI Desktop.. hmm..

pbirs_2017_aug_02

Search Area 2 – powerbi.com download site

The next stop was the powerbi.com site – there is a download link for the August 2017 preview, but no download link for the corresponding Power BI Desktop version..

Search Area 3 – PBIRS report portal

My next stop (and spoiler: the successful one) was within the PBIRS report portal . The updated reporting portal UI contains a download menu – and there is the download link to the right Power Desktop version!

pbirs_2017_aug_03

When you open that link the download page of the Power BI Desktop (Optimized for Power BI Report Server – Preview) is opened:

pbirs_2017_aug_04.png

The first dialog in the installation sequence mentions the direct relationship between this version of Power BI Desktop and PBIRS August 2017:

pbirs_2017_aug_05.png

 

Summary:

As of today (2017-08-27) no direct download link for the optimized version of Power BI Desktop for the PBIRS August 2017 preview is available on powerbi.com. If you want to download it, you’ll have

a) install PBIRS August 2017 preview first – go to the Report Portal and open the download link

or

b) just use the download link and install Power BI Desktop for PBIRS from there.

Happy Power BI-ing,

Wolfgang

 

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Power BI Report Server – August 2017 Preview

Power BI Report Server (PBIRS) GA was released in June 2017 and only a few months later the next round of updates (August 2017 Preview) are available for testing.

Imported Data and ANY data source you like

As Chris Finlan mentiones in the announcement post, you can now view/work with Power BI reports with imported data in PBIRS. And in addition – you can create Power BI reports that connect to any data source!! yeah!

There are still some (preview) limitations:

  • Scheduled refresh for imported datasets
  • Direct Query data connections are currently not supported
  • Scale-out environments for PBIRS are not officially supported
  • Reports must be smaller than 50 MB in size

But – the GA release of this feature update round is scheduled for later in 2017.. 🙂

View and Interact with Excel workbooks in PBIRS

With this preview release the PBIRS makes a huge step towards the Microsoft Reporting roadmap (announced during PASS Summit 2015) wherein SSRS was positioned as the central reporting platform.

Starting with the PBIRS August 2017 Preview, you are now able to view and interact Excel workbooks in the PBIRS portal. The Excel integration is provided with an underlying Office Online Server (OOS). It’s a separate download and and the Power BI team provided a step by step tutorial how to integrate these two (I’ll try it in the next days!).

In these minutes, I download PBIRS installation files and start the configurations.. Stay tuned for other posts about PBIRS August 2017 Preview!

Update: It’s up-and-running on my machine:

pbirs_2017_aug_01

Happy Power BI-ing,

Wolfgang

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SQL Server 2017 – RC2 ist da!

Knappe zwei Wochen nach dem ersten Releasecandidate des SQL Server 2017 (post 1, post 2) wurde gestern der RC 2 veröffentlicht. Wie schon im Tempo der letzten (Vorab-) Versionen erkenntlicht ist, gibt es deutlich kürzere Veröffentlichungsabstände.

Laut Ankündigungspost ist der RC 2 ein wichtiger Meilenstein:

The release candidate represents an important milestone for SQL Server.  Development of the new version of SQL Server along most dimensions needed to bring the industry-leading performance and security of SQL Server to Windows, Linux, and Docker containers is complete.  We are continuing to work on performance and stress testing of SQL Server 2017 to get it ready for your most demanding Tier 1 workloads, as well as some final bug fixes.

Somit sind in diesem RC keine neuen Feature mehr enthalten – der Fokus liegt klar auf Performance und Bugfixing. Das Changelog erwähnt ebenfalls nur ein verbessertes Upgrade für die Master Data Services (MDS).

Der Download (aus dem Eval-Center) ist schnell erledigt.

sql2017_rc2_02

Im Eval-Center selbst habe ich keine ISO Images zum Download gefunden (Nachtrag: gibt es aber sehr wohl im MSDN / my.visualstudio Downloadbereich!). Mit dem neuen Basic-Installer dialog und der Option “Download Media” kann man sich jedoch hier die benötigten ISOs herunterladen.

sql2017_rc_03

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Viel Spaß beim Ausprobieren – die finale Version von SQL Server 2017 rückt immer näher! Fleißig testen &  eventuelle Fehler melden!

 

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