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Power BI Documenter Xmas 2018 Release

18 December 2018 in Uncategorized
Power BI Documenter V2.8 Features

We’re excited to announce that Power BI Documenter V2.8 (December 2018) has been released for public use. The new release of Power BI Documenter comes with new fascinating features that makes your lives even easier on your day-to-day Power BI engagements. We, at Data Vizioner, recognise the pain points for Power BI professionals who are involved with Power BI development, code reviewing, auditing, documentation and handover. This release would be our last one in 2018 so we added some of the most wanted and compelling features to the tool to be given away as our Christmas present to all of our users. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for using Power BI Documenter and giving us your invaluable feedbacks during the past 6 months. During this time, we hit the 1,000 users milestone which is amazing.

What is new in December 2018 release?

Power BI Documenter 2.8 comes with amazing new features that can help individuals and organisations with their Power BI engagements:

  • Downloading information of different report elements in CSV format:
    • Report general information
    • Model Details
    • Tables Details
    • Calculated Tables
    • Report Level Measures (Connect Live)
    • Row Level Security (if exists)
  • Applying best practices to PBIT files and make them available to download
  • Supporting “Display Folder”

Downloading Report Elements Information

This feature was the most wanted feature our users asked for. We heard your voice. From December 2018, you can download all information that appear in data grid format across the Power BI Documenter in CSV format. Currently you can download the information from the following sections:

Report General Information

When you login to Power BI Documenter you land on “Report” tab by default. On the “Report” tab you see all general information about related to the uploaded Power BI report.

This tab includes statistical information on top and more detailed information in data grid format at the bottom when you scroll down. From now on you can download data grid contents in CSV format. This is very useful when you want to include those information in you offline documentation.

Note: The filters affect the data grid information only and will not affect the CSV contents.

Here is how the downloaded file looks like:

Model

When you click on “Model” tab, you can see different views based on the “Connection Mode” of your Power BI file. If the Connection Mode is “Data Import” then you’ll see the following sections.

Model Diagram

Graphically represents your model relationships and usage in visuals. This part can NOT be exported at this stage.

Model Details

Provides detailed information about your model including Columns, Measures and their attributes like if they are hidden or used in visuals. When you expand this section you’ll see a “DOWNLOAD AS CSV FILE” button within this section. By clicking on that button you can download the contents of the “Model Details” section in CSV format.

Note: The filters affect the data grid information only and will not affect the CSV contents.

Table Details

Provides more detailed information about the Tables and their attributes like is table hidden or if it is calculated table. Click on the “DOWNLOAD AS CSV FILE” button to download the contents of the “Table Details” section in CSV format.

Calculated Tables

Provides calculated tables with their corresponding DAX expressions. Click on the “DOWNLOAD AS CSV FILE” button to download the contents of the “Calculated Tables” section in CSV format.

Report Level Measures (Connect Live)

When you Connect Live to an instance of SQL Server Tabular Model, you have the ability to create report level measures. This is an awesome feature. The problem is that when you connect to an instance of Tabular model from Power BI Desktop, when you create new Report Level measures, those measures will get lost between many other measures that already defined in the Tabular model. Currently in Power BI Desktop the only way that you can find Report Level measures, is to click on the measure, if the formula bar appears then you can see the DAX expressions used to create the measure. With Power BI Documenter, you can simply upload your PBIT file to Power BI Documenter, then click “Model” tab, then from there you can see and download all DAX formula used to create the Report Level measures.

Note: The filters affect the data grid information only and will not affect the CSV contents.

Row Level Security (if exists)

If there is Row Level Security (RLS) setup in your Power BI file, it is good to include it in your documentation. To download the RLS information click “Security” tab then click the “DOWNLOAD AS CSV FILE” button to download the contents of the “Row Level Security (RLS)” section as CSV file.

Applying best practices to PBIT files and make them available to download

This feature was in our wish list for a while. We are very excited to announce general availability of this feature. You can now apply two best practices to your model and download the file accordingly. The two best practices are:

  • Hiding fields not being used in visuals (fields can be columns or measures)
  • Hiding tables not being used in visuals

In lots of cases Power BI developers just fully import all tables at the first place to have everything available in their reports. Then they use some columns in visuals and leave all unused columns and tables visible. Or in some cases you may define a lot of measures while not all of them are used in the visuals. Despite the fact that this is not best practice, in real world, lots of developers do that. It is not like they don’t know about the best practice. In majority of cases we see the developers left the model as is when the project budget is tight and it is really time-consuming to find out which columns or measures are not used in visuals without any tools like Power BI Documenter. The issue doesn’t stop there. After you find out the unused objects, now you have to go and hide all the unused ones which is laborious.

We recognised this issue so we added the best practice section to the August 2018 release of Power BI Documenter. In the December 2018 release, we apply the above best practices to your Power BI Model and make the improved PBIT file available for download. So from now on, you can simply upload your PBIT file, then click “Practices” tab and download the file with best practices applied to it. This is really fascinating feature that can save a lot of development time and make your model more professional.

As you may guessed, this feature is NOT available when you Connect Live to an instance of SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS).

Here is how your Power BI Model looks before and after applying best practices:

Supporting “Display Folder”

Display folders is a new feature added to the November 2018 release of Power BI Desktop. despite the fact that it is still under preview, we thought it would be great to add that feature to Power BI Documenter. To see the display folders, click “Model” tab then expand “Model Details” section. We added a new column to the data grid names “Display Folder”.

And yes, it is included when you download the CSV format.

In future releases we will add more cool stuff to Power BI Documenter like more best practices to be applied, supporting XMLA to connect Power BI Documenter to Power BI Service and more. Stay tuned.

Power BI Documenter October 2018 Release

10 October 2018 in Announcements

 We’re excited to announce that Power BI Documenter V2.75 (October 2018) has been released for public use. The new release of Power BI Documenter provides lots of new information about your Power BI reports along with one more best practice. In this release we fixed some bugs and added bunch of new features as follows.

Fixed bugs in the new release?

We have noticed a minor bug in “Model Details” data grid under “Model” tab which the “Field” column resized vertically and made it pretty hard to read the text.

We fixed the issue so the “Filed” text will not resize in a way that makes the text unreadable.

We also notified with an issue in the sorting files in the “Files” page. In this release we fixed that issue and from now on your files will be in descending order based on uploaded date.

What is new in October 2018 release?

Power BI Documenter 2.75 comes with a bunch of amazing new features that can help you with your Power BI development as well as documenting your Power BI reports.

  • Supporting built-in themes
  • Detecting unused custom visuals and providing relevant Best Practice
  • Detecting Mobile Friendly reports and visuals
  • Row Level Security (RLS)
  • Report Level Measures when Connect Live to an instance of SSAS

Supporting Built-in Themes

Built-in Themes made available in Power BI Desktop from August 2018. From now on Power BI Documenter detects if a “Built-in” theme has been used in the Power BI reports.

Detecting Unused Custom Visuals

The ability to use custom visuals is awesome. They can take your reports to the whole another level. They are shiny, informative and more importantly, easy to import to your reports. No scripting is needed, you just need to import any desired custom visual to your Power BI report to be able to use them. But, in reality you may import several custom visuals to see how they work. You may use some, but what about the unused ones? You may simply forget to remove them from your model. The problem with unused custom visuals is that they still consume some space in your Power BI report which make your PBIX and PBIT files larger. This release of Power BI Documenter can detect unused custom visuals so you will immediately identify unused ones in your report which perhaps you’d like to remove them as soon as you can. To see which custom visuals are not used in your report, after uploading your PBIT file to Power BI Documenter, click on “Custom Visuals” tab.

Best Practice on Unused Custom Visuals

We added a new best practice about unused custom visuals. If you have at least one unused custom visual you will see the following message under “Practices” tab in “Unused Custom Visuals” dropdown:

Otherwise you see the following green tick:

Detecting Mobile Friendly Reports and Visuals

One of the features available in Power BI that is loved by the end users and customers is “Mobile Friendly” reports. You can easily make wonderful reports that can be easily used on virtually any mobile devices. But, when it comes to Power BI documentation and handover, it is really hard to go through every single report page, switch to “Phone Layout” and see which visuals are used in mobile friendly mode. Using Power BI Documenter you save heaps of time on identifying mobile friendly reports and visuals. All you need to do is to upload your PBIT file to Power BI Documenter then under “Report” page you’ll see  icon if a Phone Layout is available for the report pages and if visuals are used in the Phone Layout.

Row Level Security (RLS)

The October 2018 release of Power BI Documenter supports “Row Level Security (RLS)”. So from now on you’ll get your RLS settings documented after uploading your PBIT file to Power BI Documenter. Then click on a new “Roles” tab added to the Documenter. You can simply expand the dropdown to see the expressions used in the RLS.

Report Level Measures when Connect Live to an instance of SSAS

One of the coolest features of Power BI Desktop is the ability of creating Report Level Measures when connecting live to an instance of SSAS Tabular. This features opens the doors to SSAS Tabular development team to work more closely with Power BI developers in an enterprise scale project. The way it works out is that Power BI developers can create new measures in their Power BI reports when needed. So they don’t need to wait for the SSAS Tabular developers to create the measures and deploy the solution to make the measures available for Power BI developers. As a matter of fact, after the Power BI developers create the Report Level Measures in Power BI, they can simply handover the DAX expressions to SSAS Developers to use those expressions to create the measures in Tabular model. Currently, in Power BI Desktop, there is no easy way to identify the Report Level Measures. It can get a serious problem when you open a Power BI Desktop that someone else developed and you need to identify Report Level Measures. The only way in Power BI Desktop is to click on every single measure in the “Fields” pane and see if any expressions show up in the expression box. Imagine if you have a Power BI report connected to a Tabular model with hundreds of measures and you need to find out which measure is actually a Report Level Measure; that can be a real nightmare.

We at DataVizioner identified this time-consuming process and we are excited to make this feature available in October 2018 release of Power BI Documenter. So from now on, you can simply upload your PBIT file to Power BI Documenter with a simple click, then go to “Model” tab and you can see full information about the “Report Level Measures” and their DAX expressions. We didn’t stop there, in the “Model” page we give you full information about the measure usage in Report Pages and Visuals.

Power BI Documenter August 2018 Release

23 August 2018 in Announcements

We’re excited to announce that Power BI Documenter V2.5 (August 2018) has been released for public use. The new release of Power BI Documenter, not only does help you with your  Power BI documentation and handover processes, but also it helps you with some data modelling best practices. We have modified an existing feature and added lots of new features under two new tabs, “Model” and “Practices”.

What is Changed in the “Info” Tab?

From now on, Power BI Documenter can detect “Composite Models” as connection type. As you may know “Composite Models” is a new feature Microsoft added to Power BI in July 2018.Use Power BI Documenter Now

While this feature only available in preview, we at DataVizioner decided to support this feature in our August 2018 release.

What is new in August 2018 release?

In this release of Power BI Documenter added lots of new features related to the data model. From now on you are able to see your “Model Diagram” as well as DAX expressions for calculated columnsmeasures and calculated tables. You can also see what Tables, Columns and Measures are directly used in your report visuals; and which ones are NOT directly used in the visuals. We use colour coding in the “Model Diagram” to make it more readable and easier to connect with.

Model

This tab provides lots of information about your data model. You will see three sections in the Model tab.

Model Diagram

In this section you see a graphical view of the data model which includes tables and their relationships. The “Model Diagram” leverages colour codes and tags to quickly provide information about your data model.

Here is more details about Model section:

  1. Colour codes: As mentioned earlier we leverage colour coding in the “Model Diagram” to make it even easier to understand your data model.
    • Blue: All blue tables are those ones which at least one of their columns or measures is directly used in at least one visual.
    • Orange: The orange tables are unused tables. This means no columns or measures of those tables are directly used in any visuals.
  2. Tags: There are currently two tags used in the “Model Diagram”.
    • (CT): This tag represents that the table is a “Calculated Table”
    • (H): Representing a “Hidden Table”
  3. Filtering: When you click on a table in the “Model Diagram” all other drop-down sections under the “Model” tab get filtered based on your selection. This is very useful feature that you can easily and quickly browse a table and see the columns and measures associated with that table in “Model Details” and “Table Details” sections. If you select a table with (CT) tag then the “Calculated Tables” section will be filtered by based on your selection as well.
  4. Many-to-Many Relationships: If there is a relationship with an arrow on both sides it means that relationship is a Many-to-Many relationship. Although Many-to_many relationship is under preview when writing this post, we added it to the new release of Power BI Documenter as we believe it is a powerful feature that can get demanding pretty quickly.

Model Details

This section contains more details about your data model including Tables, Field, Attributes, Expression, Report Page and if they are used in visuals.

Filters

You can filter the “Model Details” by clicking on three different filters available in this section.

  • Show Only Used Fields: Filters the data grid to show only the fields that are used in visuals
  • Show Only Unused Fields: Filters the data grid to show only the fields that are NOT used in visuals
  • Show All Fields: Removes the above filters

You can combine the filter with selecting a table from the “Model Diagram” to restrict the data grid showing only used or unused fields from a certain selected table.

Field

A field in a table can be a column or a measure. There are two tags used to show the type of the field:

  • C: The corresponding field is a Column
  • M: The corresponding field is a Measure

The field name follows the syntax below:

[Table_Name].[Field_Name]

Attributes

A column can be a calculated column or a normal column. It can also be hidden. We used two tags under “Attributes” to show if a column is a “Calculated Column” and/or is “Hidden”:

  • (CC): to show Calculated Columns
  • (H): to show Hidden columns

Expression

You can find DAX expressions for calculated columns and measures.

Report Page[Visual Name]

Represents the report page and the visual(s) that a corresponding field is used in. We used “Report Page[Visual Name]” structure to address the visuals. So in “Internet Sales Analysis[Internet Sales MTD vs PCP]”, “Internet Sales Analysis” is the report page name and “Internet Sales MTD vs PCP” is the visual title.

Tables Details

This section shows the tables properties like if table is a Calculated Table or Hidden along with the table storage type that can be “Direct Query”, “Import” or “Dual”.

Calculated Tables

In this section you can see Calculated Tables with their corresponding DAX expressions. As mentioned earlier, clicking on a table in the model diagram filters this section. So if you click on a Calculated Table (with (CT) tag) you can see the DAX expression of that Calculated Table. If you do not select anything then you’ll see all Calculated Tables with their corresponding DAX expressions.

Practices

From now on Power BI Documenter is capable of examining your Power BI Template files against some best practices. This version of Power BI Documenter examines your PBIT files against three best practices as follows:

Auto Date/Time

It is recommended to disable “Auto Date/Time” in Power BI. Despite the fact that “Auto Date/Time” is an easy to use feature that automatically creates Date hierarchies in your model, there are many side effects costs coming with this feature like loading lots of unnecessary Date related data into your model which potentially hits the performance and increases you model storage size. Best practice is to disable “Auto Date/Time” feature from Power BI properties.

Power BI Documenter seamlessly examines your model, if your model passes the test then you get the following message with a green tick:

Otherwise you see the following message with a red cross:

Unused Fields

It is best not to have any visible columns or measures that haven’t been used in any visuals. The reason is that your model can easily get confusing if you do not take care of unused columns or measures. Having lots of column and measures that never been directly used in the visuals can cost you poorer performance, bigger Power BI storage and more memory consumption. For the above reasons it is best practice to review all unused columns and measures and either hide them in your model to keep your model tidy or safely remove them form your model which helps your model with less storage and memory consumption. From now on, Power BI Documenter examines your model, if you don’t have any unused fields in your model then you get a green tick:

otherwise, you get a red cross with a relevant suggestion:

Unused Tables

It is recommended to hide a table if none of its columns or measures are used in any visuals. In some cases you need to keep those tables in your model like when you are managing many-to-many relationships. But, it is wise to hide them from report view to keep your model nice and tidy. However, there are some other cases that you really don’t need to keep those tables in your model. This section helps you with detecting any unused but visible tables so you can review your model and see if you want to keep those table in your model or you can safely remove them from your model and free up some memory and storage space. Power BI Documenter examines your model and shows a green tick in case the model the tests:

otherwise it shows a red cross with relevant suggestion: