Power BI comes to life when you share a Power BI Dashboard with co-workers. It’s one of the biggest differentiators between Excel and Power BI. There are several ways to share reports ranging from sending a .pbix file to publishing and sharing a report on PowerBI.com that’s connected to a live data source.
We’ll explore how to publish and share a Power BI report, along with explaining the difference licensing requirements and information needed to setup automatic data refreshes or e-mails to get even more out of your newly created dashboard.
There’s a lot to cover so we’ll dive right in!
Table of Contents
Sharing Power BI Reports by E-mailing a .pbix file
Power BI saves files created with Power BI Desktop are saved with a .pbix file extension. These files are self contained and will include all of the layouts, and visualizations that you laid out and created. However, the files may or may not include the starting data that you use to create the report with, depending on how the data connection was first established.
If you used a live connection to a data source like a SQL database or data warehouse the person receiving the report as a .pbix file will also need to have access to that data source. The same can happen when working with .xlsx files saved on a network drive or cloud storage.
Because of the challenges around ensuring that everyone has access to the same starting data, we don’t recommend sharing a .pbix file as a solution for sharing reports between users, but it is one of the fastest ways to share reports because you can easily attach a .pbix file as an e-mail attachment.
Fortunately, Power BI has built in report sharing features.
Sharing Power BI Reports with PowerBI.com
PowerBI.com, Microsoft’s cloud service for Power BI, provides a robust platform for sharing your reports online. Sharing through PowerBI.com allows for better control over permissions and reports can often be shared using a co-worker’s Office 365 e-mail address.
Reports are published from Power BI Desktop to a shared Workspace on PowerBI.com. A workspace is a collection of different reports where different users can be granted access to the workspace. The people assigned to a workspace will have access to all of the reports that are sitting there.
Think of a department that would have specific reports, Accounting FP&A or Sales may all have different shared workspaces with relevant reports.
Publishing Reports to PowerBI.com
The first step to sharing a report with the Power B Service is sending the report from Power BI Desktop to PowerBI.com. You can publish a report by opening a report in Power BI desktop and clicking the publish button on far right of the Home tab on the Power BI ribbon.
To publish reports, you will need to be logged into Power BI Desktop with the same account you signed up for access to PowerBi.com. If you are already logged in, a screen will pop up asking you which Workspace you want to publish the Power BI Report to.
Signing Up for a PowerBI.com Account
If you do not have an account, you will need to sign up for one by going to PowerBI.com. When you first visit the page you may be greeted with a pop up that asks you to log in with your work e-mail address. Try logging in to see if it works, otherwise you may have to setup a free trial account or work with your IT team to get a PowerBI.com Pro or Premium license.
If you don’t already have a PowerBI.com login, and you don’t have a work account but still want to try it out, there are a number of ways that you can sign up without a work e-mail address that are explained further in the video below.
PowerBI.com and publishing reports to it requires a specific license, we’ll briefly explain the licensing costs and considerations.
Pro or Premium License Requirements for Power BI Report Sharing
There are three different licensing types for PowerBI.com that range in price and use case. Microsoft offers a Pro License is the most common licensing type and is the minimum requirement to publish, share, and view reports on PowerBI.com.
Other licensing types are geared towards enterprise customers. Premium per user licensing costs more than a Pro license and unlocks additional features such as the ability to work with extra-large datasets and more frequent scheduled data refreshes. The third type of license is per capacity, or essentially a dedicated set of compute resources in the cloud that typically makes more sense for large organizations.
- Pro – $10 per user per month, minimum requirement to share and view reports on PowerBI.com
- Premium Per User – $20 per user per month, larger file sizes, more frequent refreshes, and enterprise features
- Premium Capacity – Starts around $5,000 per month and avoids per user licensing for report viewers
Microsoft updates their pricing frequently, so please check out the latest Power BI pricing before signing up.
Sharing Reports with PowerBI.com
After a report is published from Power BI Desktop to a workspace on PowerBI.com, go to PowerBI.com and login. On the left side of the screen click on the Workspaces button and navigate to the workspace where the report was recently published.
After loading the workspace, go to the report you want to share with others. There is a small right arrow icon available when you hover your mouse over the report name. Click on Share.
The following screen gives you the option to send a link that recipients can use to login and view the report. You can also configure this screen to provide a link that you can copy and paste wherever you want, or you can share reports directly to Microsoft Teams.
The recipient of the shared report will receive an e-mail that looks like the one below. It provides a button to Open this report which will take them to the report that was shared with them. We recommend spending some time with new Power BI report viewers to help them navigate through the different features to drill down and explore their own data. While it isn’t difficult to learn, there are a lot of options that new users may not be aware of.
Type in a co-workers e-mail address and Power BI will automatically invite them to view the report. If they do not have a Power BI License, they will be prompted to create one after they log in. Microsoft offers free 30 day trials of Pro accounts for new users so they can take advantage of sharing before acquiring a license.
Sharing Power BI Reports with External Users
PowerBI.com will only allow you to share reports with users within your own organization. Typically, it’s determined by the domain on your e-mail address or specific setup options that IT manages in Active Directory. If you want to share reports to an external website or to users outside of your organization a Power BI Embedded License is required and takes additional steps to setup that often include collaborating with your company’s IT team.
Tips and Tricks when Publishing Reports to PowerBI.com
There is some nuance to setting up reports in PowerBI.com that go beyond being able to share them with others. To unlock the full benefits of Power BI you will likely want to setup automatic data refreshes or connect Power BI to live data.
Automatic Data Refreshes are Setup Separately from Sharing
After publishing a report to PowerBI.com, you have to assign a refresh schedule to the data source that’s published separately from the report view. Establishing a connection between PowerBI.com and the location of your data comes with varying degrees of effort depending on where the data is located.
Not all Data is Easily Accessible by PowerBI.com
If you’re sharing a report that is connected to data saved on a company’s network storage or even on your own laptop, you will need a Gateway. Power BI Gateways bridge the connection between the cloud server that PowerBi.com lives on within the Azure cloud and the location of your data.
Scheduling Automatic E-mails of Power BI Reports
Another popular feature of PowerBI.com is having it automatically send e-mails of reports once they’re published. You can schedule e-mails to be sent to different groups of people on a defined schedule. While the full report isn’t embedded into an e-mail, the e-mail does contain a small preview of the updated report with a link to the access the report on PowerBI.com
Hopefully these tips point you in the right direction to go above and beyond publishing and sharing reports by enabling live connections and automatic report e-mails!
Understanding how to share reports in Power BI is an essential skill. It’s a core component to getting the most out of the Power BI platform. As you begin building and sharing more reports and dashboards it’s important to understand some of the nuances around licensing costs, and how to automatically setup data refreshes once the report is scheduled.
Sending a .pbix file as an attachment is a quick and easy way to share reports that are a one off, but all users will need to have Power BI desktop installed and it can become a pain to manually keep track of which versions are floating around.
By publishing reports to the Power BI Service, you get a lot more control over data governance and know exactly which version is the one that everyone is working off of to avoid common problems that arise when working in Excel.