In every industry, reports are essential. Every CEO or COO wants to see the progress of their company every month, quarter, or year. There are different ways to make a report. One can do it through charts, pies, or tables. Many tools can be used in making them, and one of it is the Power BI Desktop.
Power BI is a free application of Microsoft used for business analytics solution. It helps you visualize your data, share it across your organization, or put it in your app or website. You can share your reports using the Power BI service. You can bring your data to life with live dashboards and reports. It gives you the best feature of having an auto refresh for your data without having a user to update it every day.
Power BI Desktop can create complex and visually rich reports that sometimes other applications can’t do. One example is the connection of data. You can connect to multiple data sources, but how can one connect to the data which is the first step in making the reports?
Getting Started with Power BI Desktop
To start working with Power BI desktop, first you need to download and install the application.
There are two ways to acquire Power BI: download Power BI Desktop from the web or get Power BI from the Windows store. Once you have installed the tool, you can now start on working with it.
Connect to Data
There are many different sources that you can connect to from Power BI Desktop. To connect to a data source, select the Home button, then after select Get Data > More. Below is an image that shows the Get Data window; it shows all the categories to which Power BI Desktop can connect.
When you select the type of data, you’re prompted for information, such as the URL and credentials, needed for Power BI Desktop to connect to the data source on your behalf. Below is an example of information needed if you want to connect to an SQL Server database.
When you’re already connected to one or more data sources, you may want to transform the data so it’s useful for you.
Cleaning and Transforming Data
Using Power BI Desktop, you can clean and transform data using the Query Editor. With Query Editor, you can make changes to the data like changing the data type, removing columns, or combining data from multiple sources. Below is an image of the Query Editor.
All your steps in transforming data are recorded by the Query Editor, so that each time the query connects to the data source those steps are carried out, and the data is always shaped the way you specified. You can see below the image that shows the Query Settings pane for a query that has been modified.
Once you’re done doing the changes for your data, you can now create visuals. Simply drag the fields to the report canvas to create visuals. A visual is something, such as a graphic, that appeals to the sight and is used for effect or illustration, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The following image shows a sample of a visual.
There are different types of visuals one can choose from in Power BI Desktop. To create or change a visual, just select an icon from the Visualizations pane. If you have a visual chosen on a report canvas, the selected visual changes to the type you selected. If there’s no visual selected, a new visual will be made based on your selection. The following image is a sample of a Visualizations pane.
You can add more Visuals by importing them from a file or from the marketplace. You can also delete a custom visual. To add more visuals, click the ellipsis on the last part of the Visual icons. See image below.
How to Create a Visual
To create a visual, you need to choose what type of visual you want. In this example, we will choose a simple pie chart that would contain the number of projects by status.
After you clicked the visual, click the table where you want to pull the data from. Look for the fields needed for the visual. In the example, we are looking for the Project Name and Project Status. Below is the finished visual.
A collection of visuals in one Power BI Desktop file is called a Report. Just like your typical Excel report where there are multiple sheets, Power BI Desktop report can also have one or more pages. Below is an example of a report that has multiple pages.
This report has nine pages in total.
When your report is ready to share with others, you can publish it to the Power BI service, and make it available to anyone in your organization who has a Power BI license. To publish your report, select the Publish button from the Home ribbon in Power BI Desktop.
After clicking the Publish button, Power BI Desktop will connect you to the service mentioned earlier using your Power BI account. If you are already logged in, it will show you a window that displays where in the service would you like to share the report, such as your workspace, a team workspace, or other location.
Take note that you must have the Power BI license to be able to share the reports to the service.