Power BI Source Control: Exploring Options & Solutions
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Power BI
Sep 26, 2023 3:15 PM

Power BI Source Control: Exploring Options & Solutions

by HubSite 365 about Marthe Moengen (Data Ascend)
External Blog Post
Data Analytics

Power BI

Explore options for version control in Power BI: Use OneDrive, Sharepoint, or Git for .pbix files or enable source control with Tabular Editor.

The blog post by Marthe Moengen discusses the challenges of version control in Power BI. Users are often faced with the dilemma of wanting to revert back to a previous version after making unwanted changes or in the event of accidental deletion. It also touches upon the predicament of wishing to incorporate some beneficial changes into other reports.

Currently, Microsoft's Power BI lacks an in-built solution for such scenarios, except for premium licence holders who have access to deployment pipelines. Yet, this option falls short of addressing all the issues highlighted. The Power BI team is currently working on introducing a source control feature, but there's no defined rollout timeline available yet.

Until then, workarounds exist for maintaining version control. The three options suggested by the author include using OneDrive or Sharepoint, Git, or a Tabular Editor for controlling Power BI data model files.

OneDrive or SharePoint provide a built-in solution for version control. However, changes have to be implemented via the Power BI Desktop to access version history, which limits the flexibility of the Power BI Service.

Using Git for version control integrates well with existing development processes, but it shares the same limitations as OneDrive or Sharepoint pertaining to Power BI Service functions. It's important to ensure that all developers adhere to this setup for efficiency.

The Tabular Editor allows for the management of a Power BI data model by saving data in a .bim file that supports source control. Despite this feature, the visual component of reports isn't trackable, and extraction of the .bim file necessitates an external tool and manual control.

Delving Deeper Into The Main Topic

Version control is undeniably crucial for large-scale collaborative projects involving data visualization. It gives developers greater control over varied iterations of a project, thus enhancing efficiency and productivity.

While Microsoft's Power BI currently grapples with providing in-built version control, viable alternatives exist such as OneDrive, SharePoint, and Git. However, these options come with their drawbacks, primarily limiting the functionality of the BI Service. Working with binary files also presents issues with merging and tracking changes.

Despite the use of Tabular Editor to ease some of these challenges, it too falls short in facilitating tracking of visual changes. Thus, the data visualization community eagerly awaits Microsoft's dedicated feature for version control in Power BI, closely watching its development process.

This issue underscores the importance of continuous innovation and upgrade in data visualization tools, catering to the complex and evolving needs of its vast array of users. As the future moves towards collaborative data work, seamless control over versioning will undoubtedly form an integral part of the software ecosystem.

Read the full article Source Control in Power BI – What are your options?

Power BI - Power BI Source Control: Exploring Options & Solutions

Learn about Source Control in Power BI – What are your options?

Data control in the BI interface has remained a challenge from the beginning. What is the best recourse after making changes that disrupt everything and the need emerges to revert to an older version? Or, in the instance of an unintentional deletion of the saved file on your computer? The possibilities of effectively incorporating the good changes made to reports for updates also arise. What will be the next step?

As it stands today, there isn't a built-in solution for this within the BI platform. An option available to those with a Premium licence is deployment pipelines which allows for better control over your data, granting an overview of the differences among content in workspaces. But this does not address all the challenges highlighted earlier. Here, an article that delves into how this feature works:

What is glaringly absent is source control! This is a feature much coveted by the BI user community. Hence, while awaiting the arrival of this eagerly anticipated new feature, your options include:

  • Version control your .bpix files using OneDrive or Sharepoint Check Here
  • Version control your .bpix files using GitCheck Here
  • Using Tabular editor to source control your BI data modelCheck Here

Using OneDrive or Sharepoint for version control of your .pbix files is an easy-to-use option with limitations. You need to effect all changes in the BI Desktop to get the version history and this negates some flexibility of BI Service.

The inability to do diffs or schema compares of the versions, as well as merge the files or have multiple developers working concurrently are the other cons. There needs to be processes to ensure all developers who collaborate on the same report, use the same OneDrive/Sharepoint folder.

You can also employ GitHub or Azure DevOps to store and track the version of your .pbix file by committing it to git after changes are effected, just like other files in Git. However, the cons remain the same as for using OneDrive or Sharepoint. All developers need to adopt this method for it to work.

Considering external tools like Tabular Editor expands your options. It allows you to save your file as a .bim file. An effective way to comprehend how a BI Report is set up is to view it as divided into two components: Report and Dataset

Your data model, alterations made to it as transformations or measures are encapsulated in the Dataset. The Report contains all the report pages and visualizations you have put in place. All the visualizations in a report originate from a single dataset.

Given these two components can be separated, source control in BI is enabled. The metadata of your BI data model are essentially contained in a .bim file. This is a JSON file that works well with source control hence it is useful for tracking changes in our BI Datamodel. However, important to remember is the trade-off: changes made to visuals or report pages are not captured in the .bim file.

The extraction of the .bim file requires an external tool and you need to add a manual step to the process. Automating this demands you take advantage of the XMLA endpoint. Unfortunately, this mandates premium capacity or a premium per-user license. On the bright side, you can use tools like ALM Toolkit for deployment changes to the XMLA endpoint, provided you have a premium license.

Useful resources:

Ultimately, understanding that data control and version control can be complex processes, especially in the BI environment, is vital.

More links on about Source Control in Power BI – What are your options?

Source Control in Power BI – What are your options?
Feb 1, 2023 — Source Control in Power BI – What are your options? · Version control your .pbix files using OneDrive or Sharepoint · Version control your .pbix ...
Deep dive into Power BI Desktop Developer Mode (Preview)
Jun 15, 2023 — The primary goal of a Power BI project is to facilitate source control by saving your Power BI Desktop development as a folder and text files.


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