Microsoft announced a new low code cloud-based interface for Power BI Paginated reports. The initial feature set is more limited than using the Paginated Report Builder or SSRS but it enables report viewers to quickly export data from an already published Power BI dataset without putting a lot of development work into it.
We’ll explain how to use this new feature, and give a quick overview of the features currently available.
What are Power BI Paginated Reports?
There are three components to the Power BI platform. Power BI Desktop used for designing and creating interactive dashboards, the Power BI Service at PowerBI.com that lets you publish and share reports, then a third less commonly used piece of desktop software called Power BI Paginated Report Builder.
Paginated Reports are probably what you think of when you imagine an invoice, or highly formatted document that’s been designed for printing and reading on a piece of paper. Power BI Paginated reports lets you create highly formatted documents.
A really simple example is this basic table of data that’s designed to export to a .csv or Excel file for further analysis.
Up until recently, you would have to install the Paginated Report Builder and work through an interface that’s similar to the old school SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) to setup a document the way that you want it to look.
With a recent update to the features available on PowerBI.com, Microsoft enabled Low code authoring of paginated reports.
While the feature set is currently limited in comparison to the desktop software, there are a number of use cases people will find useful.
How to Create a Low Code Power BI Paginated Report
The new Power BI Paginated Reports view available on PowerBI.com is an exciting new way to enable Power BI users to have a self-service way to export datasets in the format of their choosing.
To get started, create a new Paginated Report in PowerBI.com after logging into the Power BI Service. Navigate to + Create, See All, Power BI and the section will look like the following. Select Paginated Report.
Next, choose the data you want to connect to. You can use any previously published Power BI Dataset. If you don’t have a dataset already established you can use Power BI Desktop to publish a new dataset that will then be available in your workspace.
After selecting data you will be shown the following low code paginated report builder.
Features are somewhat limited at the moment, but there are a few key features to know.
- Drag and drop fields from the Data Tab to the Values section, similar to Power BI Desktop
- Data can be filtered inside of the paginated report
- Formatting options are limited to updating table styles
- Can Export in Multiple Formats: .xlsx .pdf .csv .ppt .docx .mhtml or .xml
- Reports can be assigned Subscribers and supports dynamic per recipient functionality if data is available in a data source to re-create similar functionality of Row Level Security (RLS)
Let’s explore a few of these in more detail.
Filtering Data in Low Code Paginated Reports
The filtering panel can be expanded for a similar experience to the filtering options available in Power BI Desktop. You can get pretty far with these, but if you have to do any type of advanced filtering it might be easier to perform it in Power Query and output a separate dataset from Power BI Desktop to the Power BI Service to use as the basis of a paginated report.
Exporting Data in Low Code Paginated Reports
One of the biggest use cases for low code paginated reports are making them available to others within your organization. If you’ve ever worked with a guy that says “Just give me the Excel” regardless of the beautiful highly interactive drillable explorable dashboard you’ve already created then this might be a good solution.
Because low code paginated reports run off of an existing Power BI dataset it will follow the same refresh schedule and use the existing data connections making sure that the report is always up to date.
Users can then go into a low code paginated report that they have access to and export the data to a format of their choice such as .xlsx or .csv for them to work into their existing process.
Scheduling and Sharing Low Code Paginated Reports
When you’re building a paginated report there’s now button available on the edit screen to share the report. However, you can generate a link that you can e-mail to people where they will be able to click it and go directly to the report.
To setup automatic e-mails with the report as an attachment, you have to first save the new low code paginated report. Once it’s saved it is available in your workspace. Click on it, and you can setup subscriptions to automatically e-mail users copies of the report as an attachment based on a regular schedule.
Subscriptions require a Power BI Proce License and sharing of Power BI is typically limited to only those within your organization without a Power BI Embedded SKU.
A low code cloud based interface for Power BI paginated reports is a very welcome addition to the Power BI ecosystem. It’s great for building quick simple reports and making data accessible for a wider range of users. Being able to build off of a Power BI data source means you only have to build a data model once and can use it multiple times.
We only wish that it had more features to fully replace paginated reports for desktop. It’s not our favorite piece of software and feels incredibly dated in the world of AI where computers can have full conversations and even write computer code all on their own.