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Post By Admin Last Updated At 2020-09-18
Power BI Desktop: Visualize data more powerfully

Power BI is a powerful BI tool and provides better data visualization to the data gathered from various sources. It helps to convert this data into meaningful dashboards and BI reports for better decision-making. There are different versions of Power BI available out of which Power BI Desktop is the best one. It’s an authoring and publishing Power BI tool available open-source.

Moreover, Power Bi Desktop is a tool that provides hands-on experience to the users playing with data and its management.

Power BI supports a different range of data sources to provide ease of service. Users can click on the Get data and it displays all the available data connections. It allows users to connect to several flat files, SQL databases, and Azure clouds, etc. Moreover, it also enables users to connect to web platforms like Facebook, Google Analytics, and Salesforce objects. It also consists of an ODBC connection to connect to other ODBC data sources that are not on the list.

The following data sources are available within Power BI −

  •     Flat Files
  •     SQL Database
  •     OData Feed
  •     Blank Query
  •     Azure Cloud platform
  •     Online Services
  •     Blank Query
  •     Other available data sources like Hadoop, Exchange, etc.

What is the Power BI Desktop?

Microsoft Power BI Desktop is an open-source application built for analysts that help users to connect, transform, and visualize data. Using Power BI desktop anyone can connect a number of data sources and integrate them into a data model (Data modeling). Moreover, this data model helps users create displays and collections of visuals that users can share as reports. These reports and dashboards are shared with other people within the organization. Most users working on BI projects use Power BI Desktop to build reports. Later they also use the Power BI service to share their reports with other people.

Power BI Desktop Uses

There are different kinds of Power BI Desktop uses. The following are some of the common uses of the Power BI Desktop application.

  • Connecting to data from different sources.
  • Change or modify data and clean that to build an exclusive data model.
  • Build visuals, like charts or graphs that provide visual displays of the data for easy understanding.
  • Develop reports that include visuals, on one or more report pages, etc.
  • Sharing the reports with other people or management, by using the Power BI service.

The people responsible for the above tasks are often considered Data Analysts or BI professionals or Report builders. Although, many people don't consider themselves a Data analyst or a report creator as they use Power BI Desktop. They use it to build powerful reports or to pull data from different sources and create various data models. Moreover, these reports and data models are useful to share with their management, coworkers, and organizations.

Building a powerful report on the Power BI Desktop generally includes 3 steps:

  • Importing Dataset to Model
  • Create different types of Visualizations
  • Build an attractive Report

For all this, the user needs to install the Power BI Desktop application from powerbi.com (official site of Microsoft Power BI).

Get hands-on experience on Power BI Desktop usage from an expert’s view at Power BI Online Course.

At first, users can download and use the free version of the application and later use the paid version.

There are three different types of views available in Power BI Desktop

  • Report: In this type user builds reports and visuals, where most of the development time is spent.
  • Data: In this type, users look into the tables, estimates, and other data useful in the data model related to their report, and modify the data for best use further.
  • Model: In this type of view users can see and manage the relationships among different tables within the data model.

Connecting to Data

The first step to getting started with Power BI Desktop is “connecting to data”. There are several data sources that users can connect to from the “Power BI Desktop” app.

For connecting to data:

  • Go to Home page, select >Get Data -> select>More.
  • Now the Get Data window appears, displaying several categories to which -Power BI Desktop can connect to.
  • After selecting a data type, the user will be prompted for information, like the URL and credentials. This is important for Power BI Desktop to connect to the data sources on the user’s behalf.
  • As the user connects to one or more data sources, he might want to modify the data so it's useful for him.

Change, clean data, and build a Data model

Within Power BI Desktop, users can remove and change data by using the in-built Power Query Editor. By using Power Query Editor, users can modify their data, such as changing a data type, deleting columns, or integrating data from different sources. It's like a shaping process. Users can start with a big block of clay (i.e. data), then make it pieces or add others until the shape of the data becomes how they want it to be.

To start with “Power Query Editor”, the below steps are useful:

  • Go to > Edit Queries > from the “Home” button.
  • The <“Power Query Editor”> window will appear.
  • In each step, users take in modifying data (like, renaming a table, changing a data type, or removing a column). All this is recorded by Power Query Editor. Every time this query connects to the data source, all those steps are executed. So that the data is always transformed the way the user mentions.

After getting data from a custom view, users can build visuals.

Building Visuals

When the user has a data model, he could drag-n-drop fields to the report canvas to build visuals. Moreover, a visual or display is a graphic presentation of the data within the user’s data model. The Power BI Desktop offers various types of visuals to the users.

Users can build custom visuals from the available menu options within the Visuals section.

Developing Reports

Usually, users might want to build a collection of visuals that presents various aspects of the data that users used to develop a data model in Power BI Desktop. Moreover, a collection of visuals is known as “report” within Power BI Desktop. A report may include more than a page. This is similar to an Excel file having one or more worksheets.

Using Power BI Desktop users can develop more complex and visually rich reports. Moreover, by using data from different sources, users can share a single report with others within the business enterprise.

Sharing Reports

When the report is readily available to share with others, users can publish the report to the Power BI service. And make the same available to everyone within the business unit who has a Power BI license.

For publishing a Power BI Desktop report:

  • Select the -> Publish <- button from the Home
  • Now, the Power BI Desktop will connect the user to the Power BI service with the Power BI account.
  • Later, the Power BI prompts the user to select within the Power BI service he’d like to share the report. Like the user’s workspace, a team workspace, or some other location within the Power BI service.

In this way, users can build and publish reports with the use of Power BI service. But they need a user license to use it.

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The above video on Power BI will help you to get a basic idea about the technology, tools, and usage. Get acquainted with the lectures.

Power BI Desktop requirements

Every software or application needs some specific requirements to get installed on any system. Similarly, Power BI desktop also needs some of the requirements so that users can install and use it well. The following are the basic needs to install a Power BI desktop;

  • Windows version: Windows 7/Windows Server 2008 R2, or later versions.
  • Framework: .NET 4.5
  • Internet Explorer (IE) 10 or beyond this version.
  • Memory/RAM space: it requires at least 1 GB available, 1.5 GB, or more suggested.
  • Display (Screen): At least 14:9 or (16:9) is suggested. Moreover, lower resolutions like 1024x768 aren't suitable or suggestible, as certain controls display more than those resolutions.
  • Windows display settings: In case the user sets his display settings to modify the font of the text, apps, and other items to more than 100%, he might not be able to see certain dialogs. He must interact with them to continue using Power BI Desktop. So, the user should the following if he faces any issue.
  • Go to - Display - settings in Windows by going to Settings - select System - select Display, and use the slider to back the display settings to 100%.
  • CPU requirements: 1 (GHz) or faster, 32-bit, or 64-bit x86 processor is suggestible.

Based on the above specifications, one can install the application and use it easily.

Advantages of Power BI Desktop installation

There are many benefits to get Power BI Desktop from the Microsoft Store directly. These are:

Automatic updates:

The major benefit of installing the application from Microsoft Store is that the Windows downloads the latest version automatically. It does so in the background as soon as the latest version available to keep the users always up-to-date. Thus, it is the greatest advantage of the application.

Smaller downloads

The MS store also ensures only components that include any change in each update are installed to the user’s systems. It results in smaller downloads & installations for each update every time. In this way, it saves a lot of time and space for the users.

Admin privilege not required

When the user downloads the package directly and installs it, he must be an admin for the successful installation. Moreover, in case he gets the Power BI Desktop app from the MS Store, then admin privilege is not needed.

IT roll-out enabled

By using the Microsoft Store for Business, users can easily deploy, or roll out Power BI Desktop to everyone within the organization. It is much beneficial for new users well.

Language detection

The Microsoft Store version supports almost all languages. And it checks the language used on the user computer each time of launch. This language support also affects the localization of Power BI Desktop app models built within.

Comparing Power BI Desktop and the Power BI Service

Power BI Desktop is a tool for data analysis and report building that users install for free on their computers. It consists of the Query Editor, in which users can connect a number of data sources, and integrate them to build a data model. Furthermore, they can build, design a report based on that data model.

The Power BI service is a cloud service that supports light report editing and communication between teams and organizations. Users can also connect to various data sources within the Power BI service, but data modeling is limited.

Most Power BI report developers usually work on different BI projects uses Power BI Desktop to build Power BI reports. Later they use the Power BI service to combine and distribute their reports.

Thus, both the applications have their pros and cons depending upon the usage.

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Power BI Desktop updates

This application under Power BI is regularly updated by the Microsoft team and makes it’s more flexible to use. There are some recent updates available in August 2020 that adds more features to the existing ones. In the latest update, the following features will add on;

In the Reporting part, there is perspective support to visualize data personally. This is a preview feature that allows users to make inline tweaks to visualizations in the reading display. For example, the end-user can modify a measure or dimension or add a legend to the existing data.

Selecting a shape like a rectangular lasso for a data point, and an added dynamic formatting support to more visuals is the update. Thus, it gives users a more convenient way to select different visuals at once. While editing a report, the user will be able to build a rectangular selection by holding down the Ctrl key and dragging & dropping within a visual. Moreover, when the user lets releases the mouse, all points overlap the rectangular selection will get selected.

In the Analytics part, there is DirectQuery support for Q & A sections.

In the Visuals part, various new visuals available, ArcGIS Maps updates and the admin capabilities also enhanced.

There are updates in the templates division, data preparation, and data connectivity. In data connection, the automation anywhere features add as an update. The above updates in Power BI Desktop help the users much more in their operations.

Summing Up

Thus, we reach a conclusion in the blog Power BI Desktop and its various aspects. The usage of this application within Power BI gives the user more power in data management. He can make better use of the latest features for the routine tasks more creatively. Thus, it provides many advantages with its existing and changing updates regularly. To get more knowledge on this section, reach to Power BI Online Training where you will get more updates from experts.