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SQLBI - Marco Russo

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The Power BI dashboard in public preview - available also without Office #powerbi

Microsoft released a new version of Power BI in preview mode, including many new visualizations that are immediately available to all existing subscribers also in production, such as the long waited treemap, combo charts (combining line chart and column chart), and more. These features are available only in HTML5 visualizations, so you can only use the new features online. Microsoft shown these visualizations several times this year (PASS BA Conference in San Jose, and PASS Summit in Seattle), so now this is finally available to anyone. But there is much more!

Power BI Dashboard is a new service, now in public preview (unfortunately only in United States, not sure about which other countries are supported by now, certainly not Europe), that does not require an Office 365 subscription and, more important, provide a design experience on desktop also without having Excel or Office at all. In other words, there is a separate Microsoft Power BI Designer that enables you to:

  • Import data with Power Query
  • Create relationships between tables
  • Create data visualizations with Power View (running the latest HTML5 version locally in a desktop application)

This very first release does not include the full data modeling experience we are used to in Power Pivot, so you cannot create calculated columns or measures, but hopefully this will come in the next updates. In this way, you can use Power BI with a separate “data model” environment that is not tied to Excel. You can have an older version of Excel, or no Excel at all, and still design your data model with the Designer.

The goal of this app by now is to simply offer an offline design experience, and I have to say that performance of data visualization is very good. With the Designer you design data models and reports. Once published in the Power BI web site, you can “consume” data, but you can also modify the report and “pin” objects to a dashboard, so that you can build your own custom dashboard, such as the Retail Analysis Sample you can see below.


You can create datasets getting data from several SaaS applications, such as Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, GitHub, ZenDesk, SendGrid, and Marketo. You can also connect to live Analysis Services through a new gateway named Power BI Analysis Services Connector and use new native mobile apps for Power BI. Support for iPad should be already available (again, depending on countries, it seems not available in Europe by now). Future support for iPhone and Windows tablets has been already announced.

This is a very interesting evolution of the Power BI platform and I look forward to use it with real data and real users! Many tutorial videos are available on YouTube.

Published Thursday, December 18, 2014 6:22 PM by Marco Russo (SQLBI)
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Yamigil said:

¿Which kind of data source is supported for the data refresh schedule?

December 22, 2014 12:19 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

December 27, 2014 2:06 AM

Juan Corbi said:

Hi Marco

Do you know more or less when it will available for spain/europe?

February 9, 2015 12:13 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Not yet - hopefully soon!

February 9, 2015 1:50 PM

chung said:


Do you know if it is possible to share my power bi report with people outside my email domain?  If not, if there is a way to work around?

February 10, 2015 1:19 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Not yet, but it's something I've seen requested by many people so I hope it will be implemented.

February 10, 2015 1:43 PM

chung said:


I currently use Power Query to connect to Azure Database.  I find out I have to do this for each table.  I realize when I change from Dev to Prod, I have to redo the connection for each table.  Is there a easy way to do it once for all tables?  Thanks in advance.

January 15, 2016 5:20 PM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

If you use Power Query for Excel, you might use a cell in a worksheet storing the parameter (e.g. connection string) to use in the M code (you have to edit M by hand for that). However, I don't know whether this can be done in Power BI (maybe by referencing an external file, or by creating a query in M that returns the connection string - probably this latter idea is the best one, I'm just concerned about how the credentials will be stored, I never tried this approach).

January 15, 2016 5:26 PM
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About Marco Russo (SQLBI)

Marco Russo is a consultant, writer and trainer specialized in Business Intelligence with Microsoft technologies. He runs the SQLBI.COM website, which is dedicated to distribute resources useful for BI developers, like Integration Services components, Analysis Services models, tools, technical information and so on. Marco is certified as MCT, MCDBA, MCSD.NET, MCSA, MCSE+I.

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