Source control for Microsoft Power BI (TMDL)
Apr 11, 2023 5:44 PM

Source control for Microsoft Power BI (TMDL)

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Tabular Model Definition Language (TMDL) is the next step toward enhanced source control for Microsoft Power BI

Discusses how organizations use semantic models as a single source of truth for enterprise data, and how Power BI’s data modeling capabilities allow customers to build enterprise-grade semantic models as Power BI datasets. These datasets can be visualized on Power BI reports and dashboards for thousands of users across large organizations. However, many organizations have multiple big and complex datasets that require incremental changes. Additionally, for certain projects, multiple developers may need to work on different tasks in the same model. Extracting the BIM file using Tabular Object Model (TOM) results in a single JSON file that is difficult to read, edit, and collaborate on.

We are very excited to announce the public preview of a new Tabular Model Definition Language (TMDL) to address those limitations by providing:

  • A human readable format using a YAML-like syntax. Each tabular metadata object has a textual representation with minimal delimiters. Indentation is used to indicate parent-child relationships between objects.
  • A better editing experience, especially for properties containing DAX and M expressions.
  • A standard folder output format where each model object has an individual file representation, making TMDL more source control friendly well suited for collaboration.

Get started with Tabular Model Definition Language (TMDL) | Microsoft Learn

The public preview of TMDL, a tabular-model definition format that can be incorporated into any community tool. Microsoft BI has a history of community tool enablement, and TMDL continues in this tradition. Any tool that reads and writes tabular-model metadata files can now adopt the TMDL format, promoting interoperability between tools. Mathias Thierbach, the creator of pbi-tools, has already adopted the TMDL standard, which provides tools to bring Power BI projects under source control, enabling professional development workflows and enhanced governance. Mathias enhanced the TOM object model by adding TMDL as part of the Power BI Contributor Program and showed great drive, creativity, and commitment to making TMDL a reality. The community owes Mathias a debt of gratitude for his work on TMDL.