Paginated Reports in Power BI

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Nicholas Church

What is Power BI?

At Dolphin IT Solutions, we are avid advocates of Power BI. This business intelligence reporting tool offers affordability, scalability, compatibility with various systems, and a robust community of developers to provide support when necessary. With Power BI, even a simple set of data can reveal unexpected insights and prompt thought-provoking questions about your business operations. Power BI has consistently received high ratings as one of the leading business intelligence reporting tools and integrates seamlessly with the Microsoft 365 suite, making it an ideal solution for your business needs.

Paginated Reports in Power BI

However despite its numerous benefits, it is worth noting that Power BI has its limitations. One common complaint we hear is regarding its physical printing capabilities. Power BI is only capable of printing a high level dashboard snapshot – printing anything more complex than that is not possible. While there are workarounds such as exporting data for printing, if you want a highly structured report that is built to the specific requirement and works at a single button click, Power BI is not the answer. To do that job you need a different tool.

What is Power BI Report Builder?

This is where Microsoft Power BI Report Builder comes into play - a tool that allows enables the creation of paginated reports. Paginated reports, while a well-established report format, have only recently been introduced in conjunction with Power BI, offering a fresh perspective in the realm of report building.

In 2019, Microsoft launched Report Builder, marking the beginning of the journey towards accessible paginated reports. Although the underlying technology dates back much further, the release of Report Builder was perceived as a step forward in the field of report building. However, the initial availability of Report Builder was limited to Premium subscribers, requiring a significant investment for those who wanted to make their reports available to others. As a result, many users were unable to take advantage of paginated reports within the Power BI service due to the cost, leading to frustration.

In response to user demand, two years later Microsoft introduced Power BI Premium Per User (PPU) licensing tier, offering most of the benefits of Premium at a significantly reduced cost. As the name suggests, licensing is based on a per user basis. This made paginated reports more accessible and affordable, enabling users to deploy paginated reports in the Power BI service. Users could now produce printable reports, much to everyone’s delight.

Power BI Report Builder Features

It is important to note that Report Builder serves a specific purpose and goes beyond merely printing reports. As a standalone product, it effectively caters to specific reporting needs and can prove to be particularly useful in certain situations, e.g. when building an invoice report. With its capability to provide pre-formatted structures and dynamic parameters, Report Builder enables the creation of insightful reports that iterate through the necessary data and guide users in making informed selections.

Other Power BI Report Builder features include:

  • Report Templates: Report Builder provides pre-formatted templates for common reports such as invoices, receipts, and purchase orders.
  • Tabular Data Model: Report Builder provides a tabular data model, which allows you to organize and manipulate data in a way that's intuitive and flexible.
  • Reporting Services: Report Builder integrates with SQL Server Reporting Services, which provides a variety of additional reporting options and capabilities.
  • Mobile Optimization: Report Builder provides mobile optimization, which allows you to view and interact with reports on mobile devices.
  • Collaboration and Sharing: Report Builder provides collaboration and sharing features, such as shared datasets and report parts, which make it easier to work with others and reuse content across reports.

Benefits of Power BI Premium Per User License

The Power BI Premium Per User (PPU) license not only grants access to Report Builder, but also enables the utilisation of Premium workspaces within the Power BI service. This offers several benefits, including the ability to automate the distribution of reports through email, with the added capability of attaching relevant content. Despite being a seemingly basic requirement, this feature remains inaccessible to Power BI Pro users.

Maximise your reporting capabilities with Power BI and Report Builder

Together, Power BI and Power BI Report Builder offer a comprehensive solution for report creation and management. Whether it be analytical or operational, these tools will enable you to create reports you need and through the Power BI service share them with your users. If you'd like help exploring how you can use these tools to grow your business, please don't hesitate to reach out and contact us for an informal chat.

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