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Power BI Designer API

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Marco Russo on 27 Mar 2015 16:20:23

Power BI Designer saves a local PBIX file, which can be a file to export data and data model – in other words, it’s a format that contains a complete semantic model. All the applications that today export data in several formats (CSV, Excel, XML), might provide a richer semantic model exporting a PBIX file.

Many ISV/SI that have OLTP and other applications that stores data in some database, usually struggle to offer a compelling BI story to their customers. The smaller they are, the more they feel this pressure because probably the effort they can put in their custom software is minimal.

Today these ISV/SI integrate their solution with external vendor technologies (QlikView is a common choice here). However, the cost of such a solution for the end user is not always appealing, and for this reason the MS partner ecosystem always look for components (charts and pivot tables) to integrate in their solutions.

Providing them an easy and inexpensive way to produce PBIX files “ready to use” straight from their product/solution would provide several benefits:

- Customers would have something ready to be uploaded to Power BI service

- ISV/SI would be able to provide a BI solution integrated with MS ecosystem

- ISV/SI can implement solutions like “send a PBIX file via mail every week to all the agents including only the data of their prospects/customers” - Today they already do that using the .CUB format, which can be consumed by both Excel and custom applications

- Microsoft would increase the number of Power BI users very quickly - Small ISV/SI would be able to implement such integration very fast

What I propose to do is, in descending order of importance:

1) Support Power BI Designer as a local engine with an API that can be used by anyone and officially support local connections by other programs (starting from Excel)

- The API should provide the ability to create a data model and to populate it with data by just using API, without any manual interaction

- Providing the ability to connect from other clients (today it is possible but not officially supported) would increase the adoption.

2) Document and “open” the PBIX file, so that it can be generated by anyone

- I think that this is easy for the data model, but not for the data.

- But without the data, this model would be not so useful, requiring a manual refresh to be populated.

3) Open source the Power BI Designer

- Not really a priority in my opinion, but if the first two wouldn’t be possible, this one could be ok

Administrator on 21 Oct 2022 02:41:46

Update 10/17: This is now in our upcoming roadmap and we will share more details in the coming months. Mo (Note: this item is similar to the GIT item)

Hi everyone. There are some really interesting ideas in this thread, thanks for your vocal support about it! We'll consider it for the future along with other suggestions and plans. Thanks!

Comments (97)
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Clive James on 09 Nov 2023 14:52:34

RE: Power BI Designer API

Update over a year ago that this is in the roadmap, I would love to see this!I need to pull a list of tables and table IDs from an API, then for each table, build a connection in a .pbix file using the table ID, rename it to the same as the table and create connections using the parent/child information contained.

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Brian Jones on 13 May 2022 20:03:11

RE: Power BI Designer API

This was needed a long, long time ago, in several galaxies near and far.

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Andy Clapham on 10 May 2022 10:33:34

RE: Power BI Designer API

If the template pbit file format was a better designed published textual (then zipped) format; and didn't change ids, inject runtime data into design-time artifacts, and coped with some level of missing referential integrity without reporting the pbit as corrupt, this would enable a lot of additional 3rd party tooling and be a massive improvement to the product.Coupled with the ability to publish a pbit template to the service directly via API in order to update a report; without having to load and refresh locally into a pbix.This would enableCreating useful APIs to manipulate designs programmatically from a variety of languages (as per this idea)Splitting reports into subsets of tabs could be automated (solving tab level permissions idea currently #2)Proper version control of source with branch/diff/merge in git or other vcs (my personal highest-priority!)Pre-processing for formatting to maintain consistency across reports designsProgrammatic tab generation - e.g. for monthly tabs or by regionSwitching of data sources from dev to prod environments at deployment so that IT can develop reports with proper segregation of dutiesAnalysis of field usage within reports to enable automated optimisationAnalysis of field usage across reports to see impact analysis of shared data model changesAnd lots of things we haven't even imagined!I'm a programmer, and have experimented with the files extractable from the pbit; it's already 95% of the way there - it would be so good to finish this properly!

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Trí X on 19 Oct 2021 08:32:55

RE: Power BI Designer API

I'm begging you. Please make this happen!

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on 30 Sep 2021 22:37:48

RE: Power BI Designer API

Hi Team,

We are using Tableau desktop and tableau server for one of my application. In tableau there is an option to create a workbook or reports automatically i.e. if we develop one workbook and save it in XML format , we can use the same design for multiple databases by changing the database name. That helps us to automate the designing of workbook using one template. When i gone through with Power BI , we don't see that much flexibility. Here we need to create a workbook for each database and import to server using rest APIs. If you automate the workbook creation process using one template it really helps.

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on 30 Sep 2021 22:37:47

RE: Power BI Designer API

We have a problem currently with the fact that .pbix files are very different from any other SSRS reporting artefact in terms of enterprise readiness for deployments. We have a full-featured deployment system that can deploy entire trees of reporting artefacts along with replacing datasource definitions at deploy time depending on the target environment (DEV/TRAIN/PROD) etc. This has been working nicely for years but now we are moving to PBIRS and away from SSRS native mode, users want to be able to deploy .pbix artefacts in the same way. This seems to be basically impossible because:

•The file format of .pbix is not editable programatically (unlike every SSRS artefact) and so data sources cannot be changed directly which means they have to be uploaded to PBIRS and then changed with the REST API .... but ...
•Datasources inside a .pbix file have no name and even the ids change every time the file is deployed to a PBIRS server. So, there is no way of matching datasources to the database of connections we use to determine datasources for a target environment during deployment.

These issues make .pbix files really poor in terms of enterprise deployments. If anyone knows any way around these issues, I would be interested ...

It really is a basic part of any enterprise grade managed reporting solution to be able to change reports (datasources, parameters, cacheing etc). during deployment depending on the target enviromnent.

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on 30 Sep 2021 22:37:47

RE: Power BI Designer API

I'd like to build the model programmatically, or at least from a precreated template.

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on 30 Sep 2021 22:37:44

RE: Power BI Designer API

It would be grateful if it would be possible to read and write to a .pbix file with a .NET library.
So it is possible to add or modify connections, DataTables and to modify the model.
I am a programmer and so it would be possible to programmaticly change and modify a pbix-File

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Amine Benchekroun on 29 Jun 2021 08:26:07

RE: Power BI Designer API

Microsoft please make this happen !

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Adam Legge Legge on 28 Mar 2021 20:07:10

RE: Power BI Designer API

Genuinely impressed that this has been under review for 6 years. Must be one hell of a thorough review

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