The terminology that we often see and use with regard to Power BI can be a little interchangeable and ambiguous at times, and therefore confusing for some.

So lets examine some of the correct terminologies that apply to Power BI today (Jan 2017).

  1. Power BI Cloud Service
    • This is accessed via the browser and a Microsoft hosted user account. Minimum browser requirements apply
    • We can create all types of Power BI Content in the Cloud Service, but the Desktop tool is a better tool for creating Data Sets and Reports
    • A Data Gateway is required to connect content created in or published to this to on premise data
  2. Power BI Desktop
    • This is downloaded and installed on your machine
    • It runs as a local application – just the same as Excel
    • A user can connect to all data sources their user account has access to. The data will usually be on premise but may also be in the cloud
    • No Data Gateway is needed here
  3. Power BI Content
    • Data Sets
      • Consist of the Data Connections, Data Transformations and Data Model (including the Data Tables, Relationships, Calculated Columns and Measures)
      • These are superior equivalents of Excel Power Query and Power Pivot
    • Reports
      • Consist of one or many Report Pages. Many refer to these as dashboards – which they are but in strict Power BI terms they are Report Pages
      • Report Pages consist of one or many Data Visualisations (charts, tables, maps, filters slicers etc.)
      • This is superior equivalent of Excel Power View
    • Dashboards
      • Can only be created in the Power BI Cloud Service
      • Content created in the Power BI Desktop tool, that we want to create Dashboards over, must first be published to the Power BI Cloud Service (connections to the data need to be considered at this point)
      • INDIVIDUAL Data Visualisations can be pinned to a new or existing Dashboard. Visualisations pinned to a dashboard in this way ARE NOT interactive, i.e. clicking on them will take users to the Report Page on which the Data Visualisation resides
      • ENTIRE Report Pages can be pinned to a Dashboard as a Live Page. Visualisations pinned to a dashboard in this way ARE interactive (i.e. one visualisation will filter another). Clicking the title on a Dashboard created in this way will take a user to the Report Page from which the Live Page originated
  4. Sharing Content
    • Only Power BI Dashboards can be shared, which also gives the shared users read access to the underlying Report and Data Set
    • Data Sets and/or Reports and/or Dashboards can be shared by creating Content Packs. So if a user wants to share a Report they’ve created then they can do this by creating a Content Pack containing that Report. Any underpinning content would also be shared (so in this case the Data Set over which the Report was created)
    • Content Packs can be shared with individual Groups or an Entire Organisation
    • Content created in the Power BI Desktop (Data Set and Reports) is saved as a .pbix file. This can be shared in the same ways any other file would be
  5. Power BI Pro
    • These are the key features only available with Power BI Pro (so not in the Free version)
      • Hourly refresh of 1M + rows of data
      • Consume live data
      • Creation and use of a Data Gateway
      • Use of O365 Groups
      • Creation of Content Packs
      • Manage access through AD Groups
      • Control access to data using Row Level Security (controlling what Departments a Group or User can access for example)
We hope you found this useful and/or interesting. If so please like, share or comment.
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