· Jun 12

Vote for Microsoft Change For Support of Source Management and CI/CD of Power BI Reports

TL;DR: My comment to Microsoft when I voted: Our team has implemented most of what we need for source management of Power BI Report files in Perforce. The missing piece? Automated creation of ".pbix" files from ".pbit" template files that can deployed to the Power BI Report Server. Let's get the manual “Power BI Desktop->File->Save As” step out of the process to make report deployment totally automated.


Our team has implemented change management for some critical Power BI Reports used by other teams at InterSystems. We do this by extracting the “.pbix” zip file that makes up a report and storing the individual files into Perforce. We use CCR for tracking changes to the report and, most helpfully, for deploying the changes made on our development system to our test and production systems.

One problem that we and many other Power BI users looking to manage changes and implement CI/CD of their reports is the size of the data part of the “pbix” versions of the reports. A file named “DataSource” holds the report’s data at the time the “.pbix” file was last saved with Power BI Desktop.

This file can get very large. We have reports whose “DataSource” files contain almost 200 MB of binary data. It’s not a good idea to put these into source file systems made for smaller text-based files, especially since tracking differences between versions of these data files is not useful nor often even possible.

Power BI Report Desktop provides a way to save reports as “.pbit” templates. These are also zip files that are nearly identical to the “.pbix” files and would be a better alternative for change management. They have the benefit of replacing the large “DataSource” file with a much smaller text file named “DataModelSchema”. This smaller file appears to have enough information (specs of the data source connection, names of tables, names of columns from the tables, etc.) to be able to recreate the “DataSource” file.

Currently however, the only way to do this “re-creation” and produce a publishable version of a report from a “.pbit” template is for a human to use Power BI Desktop to “Save As” a “.pbix” file for later upload to the report server or directly to the report server. (This is also the only way to do this with the new, potentially promising “.pbip” files currently in review, see link below).

Having a script that replaces the manual Power BI Desktop “Save As” step or at least recreates the “DataSource” would be ideal for inclusion in an automated report deployment process.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find such a script from Microsoft after exploring multiple support sites. I’ve since had a call with Microsoft support and they’ve confirmed that there is currently no way to do this conversion automatically.

What I did find in my online searches was an MS support response that included a link to this page where interested parties can vote up a feature that would address this issue:

In my call with Microsoft support, they confirmed that getting this feature many votes increases the likelihood that it will be implemented in a future version of Power BI.

I ask readers of this post to spread the word to Power BI Report users and organizations who would benefit from this proposed feature…and please ask them to vote up the idea. 😊

Thank you.

P.S. Here is a link to the potentially promising new file format (."pbip") for Power BI Reports, "Power BI Desktop Projects":

Discussion (2)2
Log in or sign up to continue