Save PBIX from Power BI Service Under Delivers

This blog post was going to be about how excited I was to hear that there is now an option to download a PBIX file from the Power BI Service to your PC.  Unfortunately all that glitters is not gold.  This new option in the Power BI Service promises a lot but delivers little – let me explain.

save pbix updated

The Authoring Pattern

The general pattern I recommend for Power BI is:

  1. Author your workbook in Power BI Desktop
  2. Publish the workbook to the Power BI Service and share from there.

I have always recommend you do not make any changes to your reports or datasets on the Power BI service because:

  1. There is no way to backup the changes you make
  2. There is no way to download the changes back to your Power BI Desktop file.

I was hoping that this new feature solved this problem, but it doesn’t.

The Problems With This Feature

The first problem is that any PBIX files that I previously uploaded to the server are not able to be downloaded (maybe because you need to upload from the latest version of Power BI Desktop – I’m not sure).  This problem seems fixable by simply uploading a new copy of the PBIX and overwriting the current version.

The second issue is that you cannot download a report created from scratch on an existing dataset in the Power BI Service.  If the report was created online, the download option is greyed out (shown below).

image

This limitation therefore means the new feature doesn’t solve the 2 issues that existed in the first place.  It seems to me that the only possible value of this new feature is that it allows other users to take a local copy of the PBIX file (which is good), and also allows you to recover the PBIX in the instance where you misplaced (or lost) the original.

I would like to hope that this is just the first step of a multi-step process towards making all reports authored in the Power BI Service downloadable.  It remains to be seen if this will be the case.

Edit:  A colleague of mine Gilbert Quevauvilliers tells me that if you do download a PBIX, you must have the latest version of Power BI Desktop to open it.  It is a good idea to keep Power BI Desktop always up to date.

Comments

  1. During some admittedly brief testing today, I had similar results. I was able to download a PBIX from a report that was originally published from the latest version of Desktop though. I was surprisingly not able to download a PBIX from a new CSV dataset that I had uploaded into Service. I’m not sure if that is a limitation with this feature that is specific to the CSV source while other datasets will work though. Either way, I agree that it does not currently deliver on the expectation.

  2. I question why this feature was even added. I’m sort of getting the Power train model of,
    1. Author in Power BI Desktop.
    2. Publish in Power BI.
    3. Users adapt content (copy) in Power BI, create Live links in Analyse in Excel etc.

    The only time I wished I could of downloaded a copy of a published model is back in the early days of Power BI when the Desktop models disappeared… which was a bug but, upgrades seem to have fixed that (touch wood).

    • As I mentioned in my commentary, the only value I see is if I can download changes made directly in the Power BI Service. Either MS misunderstood the requirement or (hopefully) it is the first step in delivering the requirement.

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