Microsoft Adds Report Sharing, Favorites to Power BI

Borrowing from Power BI's collaboration toolkit for dashboards, Microsoft now allows users to directly share reports that are authored on the platform.


Power BI users have long been able to use the data analytics platform's sharing functionality to distribute dashboards directly to other users. Power BI reports, meanwhile, were doled out using other means, like publishing to the web or generating a static PDF file.

Now, report sharing is available as part of an update to Power BI's underlying cloud service.

"The feature works just like dashboard sharing," wrote Microsoft Power BI program manager Nikhil Gaekwad, in a Feb. 7 announcement. "Simply head to any report, look for the 'Share' option in the top bar, and select it to launch into a familiar pane experience where you can select the recipients that you want to share the report with and choose to give them re-share permissions."

And just like dashboards, users can also now bookmark, or "favorite," individual reports, enabling quick access from a desktop PC or the Power BI Mobile apps. Additionally, when mobile users tap on website links that are embedded in custom visualizations, those links will now directly open in a browser.

Easier to Share Reports Online

Microsoft is also making it easier to share reports on SharePoint Online, the cloud-based version of the content management and collaboration platform. The company officially released new web part, a building block used to create SharePoint pages, that provides a code-free way of quickly embedding interactive Power BI reports into a page.

Azure Active Directory OAuth credentials are now supported when linking Power BI to Azure SQL data sources. This extends multi-factor authentication and other Azure Active Directory security capabilities to such connections. Additionally, while using DirectQuery, a method of directly retrieving data from queries processed in a remote database, PowerBI can be configured to use an end-user's credentials to connect to a data source, further preserving its security settings.

In the Power BI Desktop client, users have another way of exploring data within a report by selecting multiple data points across multiple charts.

"You can now ctrl+click on data points in multiple charts and have the cross filters applied to your entire report. As you select data points across multiple charts, we will apply both those filters together," explained Amanda Cofsky, a Microsoft Power BI program manager, in a blog post.

New Features Replace Quick Calcs Tools

Quick Measures is also now generally available. Introduced in April 2017 along with the Show Value option, the features replace the Quick Calcs tools, enabling users who aren't well-versed in Data Analysis Expressions (DAX) to deliver expert-level calculations. DAX is a collection of constants, operators and functions used to create formulas in Power BI.

A number of performance improvements help speed up reports that use DirectQuery in some instances, like using a single SQL query for certain calculations and visualizations. Previously, Power BI would send several queries to get desired results in some cases.

DirectQuery-based connections to SAP HANA have also been upgraded. Instead of primarily treating SAP HANA as a relational source, Power BI now treats the in-memory database as a multi-dimensional source by default.

This method mimics the way SAP's own Business Warehouse and Analysis Services interface with SAP HANA. Users can still use the relational method if they choose.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...