Thursday, November 10, 2016

Upload Power BI Desktop .pbix to SSRS 2016

With the preview release of SSRS 2016 with support for Power BI Desktop reports, we wanted to test out just how easy - or difficult it would be to actually upload a report to SSRS 2016 with support for Power BI .pbix reports. Actually, it is pretty easy.


While the process is easy to upload a Power BI Desktop .pbix report to SSRS 2016, reports are loaded using a browser connected to SSRS. At least for the Preview, you cannot use Power BI Desktop to upload or publish reports to SSRS. Since our immediate goal is to run a .pbix report on SSRS, this not really an issue. 

         See also: Setup SSRS 2016 with support for Power BI Desktop in VirtualBox for how to
         get your own copy as a virtual machine on Azure.

With our local virtual machine up and running, we wanted to be able to create a new Power BI Desktop report on our own workstation, and then upload the report to the preview SSRS server.  To do this we had to take a few extra steps to get our VM ready for external connections.

On the SSRS Server:

  1. Enable TCP/IP:  on our preview VM, use SQL Server Configuration Manager and then enable TCP/IP.  You'll need to stop/restart services.
  2. Open ports to allow external access to SQL Server.  See:  Script to open ports for SQL Server

In SSRS  (this is optional, depending on the user to log in)

  1. SSRS Preview:  On the desktop, open the link that takes you to the SSRS portal. Naviage to the security section, and add the user you will use to connect to SSRS, and enable the appropriate roles. (or add to the server Administrators group)
    Optional:  or, you can just connect remotely using the admin/pw for the server when you set it up - your choice.

Connect via Browser

Get the reporting server URL and connect using a browser on your remote workstation. You can do this on the VM, but we wanted to test our ability to upload a .pbix remotely. And while we typically use Chrome, for this, we used Edge. It is actually very fast, faster than Chrome, but does not yet have a Norton plug-in for web security.

You will get a challenge/response:

Connect using the admin/pw credentials for the server, or others you setup earlier.  You will get a page that looks like this:

Notice the Power BI Desktop Reports section at the bottom.

Upload a new Power BI Desktop Report

We created several new reports using Power BI Desktop on our workstation that used the databases on our SSRS 2016/Power BI VM. Now, it was time to upload them to SSRS.

1.  On the menu bar, locate the Upload button and select

2. Select your .pbix file:
This brings up a pop-up file selection window. Locate and select your .pbix file, and then select/click the Open button. Your .pbix file will go directly into the "Power BI Desktop Reports" section.

That is it.  Your Power BI Desktop Report will be available for review.
[the (PBID July 2016) just tells us that we built this report with the Power BI Desktop July 2016 release - Version: 2.37.4464.461 64-bit (July 2016).

Notes, warnings and other considerations

  1. Version of Power BI Desktop
  2. Folders
  3. What's missing

Version of Power BI Desktop.

For this preview, you will need to use either the September, 2016 version, or an earlier version. The preview uses version:  2.39.4526.801 64-bit (September, 2016).  The October version did not work for us. We used a July version of Power BI Desktop for our tests.  If you use a new version, you will get this error:

An error has occurred.  Something went wrong. Please Try again later.
If you try to open the .pbix file you created in a newer version on the VM using the  2.39.4526.801 64-bit (September, 2016) installed on the VM, you will get this message:

Unable to Open Document
.pbix is incompatible with your current version of Power BI Desktop
No worries, just use an older copy of Power BI Desktop - or use the one in the VM.  Longer term, we suspect that this will be resolved.

Custom Folders

If you want your .pbix file to reside in a custom folder, no problem. First navigate to your folder, and then start the upload process.  If the folder does not yet have a section labeled  "Power BI Desktop Reports" the upload process will first create one. Below is a new folder where the upload process automagically created the  "Power BI Desktop Reports" section.

What's Missing?

It's a preview, and a great start at that. Still, there are some items that are not in the SSRS preview. Let's take a look at the one's we have identified so far in our review:

  1. Dashboards - at least for now, SSRS only supports reports
  2. Natural Language Queries
  3. Quick Insights

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