Power BI File Types Explained with Online PBIX Viewer

Our online Power BI file explorer lets users upload a .pbix file and view the contents of it without having to manually extract them. We’ll explain the process of how to work with Power BI files locally on your computer, along with the different file types that are related to Microsoft Power BI that Power BI Developers should be aware of.

.PBIX is the file extension for Power BI dashboards and reports. Understanding the different Power BI file types is an important step to working with Microsoft Power BI

There are several different file types that Power BI operates with. While .PBIX is by far the most common it’s worth being familiar with each one.

We’ve also made a just for fun web app to view the contents of a .pbix file, and also explain how to extract, view and edit the contents on your local machine.

What is a .PBIX File?

A PBIX file is the most common file extension associated with Microsoft Power BI. It is widely regarded as a safe file type and not one to be alarmed about. Power BI is a business intelligence and reporting tool from Microsoft. It is widely used and a common business application. To open a .PBIX file, download and install Power BI Desktop for Windows from Microsoft.

What are the Different Power BI File Types?

Power BI dashboards and reports are built using Power BI Desktop. While files are under development, they are typically saved as a .PBIX file. There are also several other file types that are worth being familiar with. Power BI uses the following file types.

  • .PBIX – Power BI Desktop File The main file type you’ll work with, it includes details about the data model, report layouts, coloring, schema etc. You can send these files to co-workers and they will be able to open and edit Power BI reports. It’s the standard file type when you save a Power BI report that you are working on.
  • .PBIT – Power BI Template File – Similar to a PBIX file but is designed to use as a template for building reports. It includes query, data model, visualization, and layout detail but does not include the underlying data that would be included in a PBIX file.
  • .PBI – Power BI Mobile File – A file format used to store mobile Power BI reports and dashboards.
  • .PBIDS – Power BI Data Source File – A specialty file type that saves data source connection information, making it easier to send connection information to co-workers. Not all source data types support the creation of PBIDS and the files typically exclude login credentials.

There are several other file types, but these are the most common.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s inside of a PBIX file, or if you can edit it directly, let’s jump in!

Online PBIX File Viewer

The following web tool allows you to upload a PBIX file and view the file contents. It’s designed as a way to quickly view the contents of a Power BI file which is made up of several different text files.

Text files are coded in different formats, some use a JSON format while others are more similar to concatenated values like you would find in a CSV.

The data itself is compressed using the Xpress9 protocol. We are unaware of any publicly available tools to decode the compression format.

Upload Power BI File

Sensitive Data Notice

This application uses Javascript powered by libraries hosted by Cloudflare. It is not recommended to upload files with sensitive information. If you wish to open Power BI files on your local computer follow the instructions below.

How to Explore Power BI Files on Your Desktop

To open a PBIX or PBIT file on your computer, save the file to your desktop. Rename the file extension from .PBIX or .PBIT to .ZIP which changes the file type association to a zip file. From there, right click and extract the zip file using your favorite extraction tool.

After opening the zip file you’ll find a number of different files. All of the files can be opened with a text editor like Windows Notepad, or Visual Studio Code.

Screenshot of an extracted .pbix file contents

Files have different schemas to them, some are JSON and others are delimited. Take a look and give it a try!

The lack of having access to a decoded data model limits some of the functionality that would be useful. Initially, we were trying this approach as a way to find and replace all values across a number of different tables in Power Query to avoid having to manually update each one. We were unscussful.

Which leads us to wondering, what can you do with an Unzipped PBIX File?

What can You do With an Unzipped .PBIX File?

In our research, not much it turns out. You can open some of the files and extract the data but most of the information inside of the files that you can access is related to visualization layouts, colors, and settings. If we were doing a lot of modifications and trying to copy visuals it would probably be easier to copy and paste them from two separate Power BI reports, or you could export the Power BI theme file.

The following screenshot is the JSON formatted Base Themes file defining color codes.

Screenshot of Power BI theme file contents opened with Visual Studio Code

Alternatively, you could use a tool like Microsoft Power Toys to quickly access a color dropper to determine on screen color HEX.

If you’re aware of any cool use cases for editing PBIX file contents, send us a note at [email protected] We would love to hear them!

Conclusion

Having some familiarity with the different Power BI file types can be useful. Templates allow you to save some time when changing data sources, and data source files make it easier to share certain types of connections with others. The PBIX file is the standard and most common file type that you’ll come across.

Users are able to switch the file extension to a .zip and extract its contents or use the accompanying file browsing tool but it has limited real life use cases due to the data model compression.

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