Edit Feb 2017: I am very excited to discover that download report now works as I would expect.
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.
The Authoring Pattern
The general pattern I recommend for Power BI is:
- Author your workbook in Power BI Desktop
- 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:
- There is no way to backup the changes you make
- 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).
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.