Blog Post

Power BI FAQ

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Power BI has become hugely popular and I find common questions about functionality and features, so I thought I would put in this blog some of those questions with answers:

What is the best way to organize workspaces?

To improve your Power BI implementation, it is highly recommended to separate datasets from reports by having separate pbix files for each, resulting in a “data workspace” and a “reporting workspace”. The data workspace should have permissions so only certain people (i.e. data modelers) can edit the data, while giving broader permissions to people (i.e. report developers) for the reporting workspace. Power BI row-level security will still be invoked for report developers even if they don’t have edit rights on the dataset (they just need read and build permissions). Make sure to use auditing to track who is using the workspaces. A few downsides: pinning to a dashboard from Q&A or Quick Insights are no longer valid options because you can’t choose a dashboard in another workspace. Also, if your company has a huge investment in O365 groups, currently the build permission can’t be set on that.

Using a dataset for multiple reports is called a ‘golden dataset’ or the ‘hub and spoke’ method. To do this, when creating a new report in Power BI Desktop, rather than importing data into the .pbix file, instead use “Get Data” to make a live connection to an existing Power BI dataset. It’s a good idea to use report pages in the data workspace to describe the datasets. For more info, check out Melissa Coates blog and video at 5 Tips for Separating Power BI Datasets and Reports [VIDEO].

Should we have dev, test, and prod workspaces?

Yes! You should use change management to move reports through the dev/test/prod workspace tiers via the new deployment pipelines in Power BI. Use the workspaces to collaborate on Power BI content with your colleagues, while distributing the report to a larger audience by publishing an app. You should also promote and certify your datasets. The reports and datasets should have repeatable test criteria.

When you publish an app, is it always in the same dedicated capacity as the workspace?  Wondering if you could have a workspace in dedicated capacity “A” and publish the app to dedicated capacity “B” (if you do not want people hammering the workspace to cause performance issues with people using the app).

An App is tied to the content stored in a workspace. That content is physically located in Azure storage (data model) and metadata is stored in Azure SQL. These details are covered in the security whitepaper. In fact in Power BI Embedded you can use the app GUID and workspace GUID interchangeably.  GUIDs are logical content groupings.  Capacity backend cores and memory are used to process data in use – this is the only real physical relationship with the capacity.  You should look into shared datasets.  Shared datasets can reside in any workspace that they can move to any available capacity.  Frontend cores are shared per cluster, so there is no front end load benefits. Workspace movement between capacities is instantaneous (assuming they are in the same data center).

Can you share datasets across workspaces that reside

in different capacities?

Yes, as long as you set proper permissions and the user has proper licensing, you will be able to leverage datasets for report creation and viewing in any workspace. More details at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/connect-data/service-datasets-share.

In a deployment pipeline, can you have dev/test/prod

in workspaces that are in different capacities?

Yes, can change the workspace to a different capacity via settings on the deployment pipeline screen.

How can you know about datasets that you don’t have access to?  It would make sense to be able to search for a dataset and get a result back that the dataset exists but you need to request permission to use it.

This is not supported.  Possibly could be a use case for Azure Data Catalog.

What is the differences in PowerQuery in PBI desktop

vs PBI service (dataflows)?

The main difference is around available connectors (~125 in Power Query Desktop vs. ~50 in Power Query Online). 

On the transformations front, we’re at full parity on M Engine support and almost there for PQ UX too with some notable exceptions (e.g. By Example capabilities). You can also look at the Public Roadmap to get a sense for the remaining PQ Online gaps and things planned in next 6 months: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-platform-release-plan/2020wave1/cdm-data-integration/power-query-online.

Can you download a report into a pbix file?

Yes: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/create-reports/service-export-to-pbix.  Note that the report must have been created by using Power BI Desktop and published to the Power BI service, or the .pbix file must have been uploaded to the Power BI service.

How do we refresh a dataflow?

Explained at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/transform-model/service-dataflows-create-use#schedule-the-refresh-frequency.

How do I monitor premium capacities?

Explained at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/admin/service-admin-premium-monitor-capacity and https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/admin/service-admin-premium-monitor-portal.

How can I restore a deleted reports, workspace or

dashboard?

Recovering deleted workspace is possible: http://dataap.org/blog/2019/06/05/recover-restore-deleted-power-bi-workspace-step-by-step/.

There is a 3rd party product to recover deleted reports: Power BI Sentinel.

For a deleted dashboard: No.  Tenant Admin can recover deleted workspaces, but not individual artifacts.  You can raise a support ticket to Microsoft Support.

How can I get an alert when a premium capacity hits a

performance metric (i.e. when the CPU of a premium capacity hits 100% or a

report takes more than a minute to execute)?

When a Power BI

Premium capacity is experiencing extended periods of high resource use that

potentially impacts reliability, a notification email is automatically

sent.  Examples of such impacts include

extended delays in operations such as opening a report, dataset refresh, and

query executions.  More info at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/admin/service-interruption-notifications#capacity-and-reliability-notifications.  Coming in July is a public preview of Azure

Monitor integration that will allow customers to connect their Power BI

environment to pre-configured Azure Log Analytics workspaces.  This provides long term data storage,

retention policies, adhoc query capability, and the ability to analyze the log

data directly from Power BI (see Azure

Monitor integration).

What are the differences in all the admin roles?

Details at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/admin/service-admin-administering-power-bi-in-your-organization.

Why would you restart a Power BI Premium capacity?

Users can cause performance issues by overloading the Power BI service with jobs, writing overly complex queries, creating circular references, and so on, that can consume all of the resources available on the capacity.  You need the ability to mitigate significant issues when they occur. The quickest way to mitigate these issues is to restart the capacity.  More details at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/admin/service-admin-premium-restart.

Can I prompt for parameters in the Power BI Service?

This is not supported.  A work around is to use query string parameters in the URL (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/collaborate-share/service-url-filters).  Note this is supported for paginated reports: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/paginated-reports/report-builder-parameters.

Is it possible to change the region selection of a

premium capacity after it is created?

This is not

possible.  Work arounds are:

  • Create a second capacity and move workspaces.  Free users won’t experience any downtime as long as the tenant has spare v-cores.
  • If creating a second capacity isn’t an option, you can temporarily move the content back to shared capacity from Premium.  You don’t need extra v-cores, but free users will experience some downtime.  Then create the premium capacity in the new region and move the workspace from shared to that premium capacity

Is there a way to see the permissions given to a

published app?

Yes, go to the Apps

screen and choose “Edit app”. 

Then click the “Update app” and go to the

“Permissions” tab to see the permissions previously given to the app.  There is not a way to see the permissions

programmatically (you can utilize the Activity Logs to review when people are

added).

What is he SLA of PBI and is there DR?

The SLA is 99.9%.  You can be notified of service interruptions: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/admin/service-interruption-notifications.  PBI supports high availability, failover, and disaster recovery: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/admin/service-admin-failover.

How can I see what new features are on the roadmap?

Check out the Power

Platform: 2020 release wave 1 plan (last

updated May 14, 2020).  The Power

Platform release plan (formerly release notes) for the 2020 release wave 1

describes all new features releasing from April

2020 through September 2020 for

Power BI, Power Apps, Power Automate, AI Builder, Power Virtual Agents, and

Common Data Model and Data Integration. 

You can either browse the release plan online or download the

document as a PDF

file or via the Power BI Release

Wave.

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