Download Power BI Reports from Power BI Service

Download report from Power BI Service

A new cool feature added to Power BI Service is the ability to download Power BI reports from Power BI Service. This feature is highly demanded and it’s available from November 2016. I was really excited when I noticed that and I had to try it straight away. I was in a bus back to home on Friday, but, I couldn’t wait until I get home and test this cool feature. So I created a personal hotspot and started testing it in the bus. To make the level of my excitement clearer, I should reveal a secret. I get motion sick in the bus very quickly. It gets worth when I read something, even reading a text on my mobile. Man, it’s really horrible feeling. Knowing that I’ll potentially get sick, I turned on my tablet (a Windows 10 tablet of course) to test this new cool feature. So I logged into my Power BI Service account, I opened a report, clicked File menu and this is what I got

Inactive Download report from Power BI Service

But, why?

Two possibilities jumped into my head immediately:

  • The dataset of this particular report is not supported at the moment
  • The “Download report” feature is NOT supported in my area

So I opened Power BI Desktop and created a report on top of an Excel file very quickly, then I published it to the service and voila! It worked. So it is also available in my area.


Download report from Power BI Service

But, what was wrong with the previous report though? The dataset?

I checked the report’s dataset, it was on-premises SQL Server. Could it be a problem?

I created another Power BI report in Power BI Desktop on top of adventure works on SQL Server 2016. I published the model and interestingly the download report feature was still active. So how on earth I shouldn’t be able to download that report?

Well, I was in the bus, wobble about and I was feeling that the motion sickness symptom is coming for me and there were a bunch of “whys” in my head.

So I had to experiment some other datasets as well. I tested the following datasets:

  1. CSV files
  2. Folder
  3. SQL Server Direct Query
  4. SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) Multidimensional (Connect Live)
  5. SQL Server Analysis Services Tabular
  6. From Web
  7. Azure SQL Database
  8. Azure SQL Data Warehouse

So, it can’t be an unsupported dataset, I reckon.

I quickly created a report on Power BI Service itself and… again, it’s greyed out.

Download report from Power BI Service is not available for reports created in Power BI Service

So this feature is not available when we create a report in Power BI Service from scratch which is no good. I hope this is just a starting point for Power BI development team and they improve the download feature in the future so that we can download the reports created in Power BI Service.

But, a question still remaining, why it is inactive for all of my existing reports which published a while ago?

The bus is still going…

So I googled it and I found this useful article, thanks Matt Allington.

Hmm, Matt says the download report feature is NOT available for the reports created in older versions of Power BI Desktop. So that’s the reason that it’s greyed out for all existing reports that are created in an older version of Power BI Desktop.

I should jump out of the bus now and luckily I haven’t got sick, well, a little bit, but nothing to be worried about.

After I got home I reopened an old report in the latest version of Power BI Desktop and republished it and yes, Matt is right. The download report feature is now activated.

It’s interesting that the PBIX file structure is changed in the latest version of Power BI Desktop. I noticed that when I uploaded a newly created report using the latest version of Power BI Desktop to a customer’s VM and I was unable to open the PBIX file using an older version of Power BI Desktop. So I had to install the latest version and I was good to go.

So if this new feature is not available for you then

  • You’re trying to download a report created and published by an older version of Power BI Desktop
  • The report is created in Power BI Service from scratch

What if I reopen a report created in an older version of Power BI Desktop and republish it? Will this resolve the old report problem?

Yes it does. Just open the PBIX file created in an older version of Power BI Desktop, save the model then republish it. It should work.

What happens if I change a downloadable report in Power BI Service?

Another question is that can I still download a report if I modify it online in Power BI Service? The answer is YES you can.

I tried it and it worked for me.

What about security? Who can download the reports? What if we don’t want this feature to be avaibale for all users?

You can enable or disable this feature through “Admin Portal” if you are a “Global administrator “.

  • Click the settings gear () on the top right on Power BI Service
  • Click “Admin portal”

  • Click “Tenant settings”
  • Scroll down abit to find “Export data” then switch it off and apply

Enable Disable Download Report Power BI Admin Portal

  • Now “Download report” disappeared from “File” menu

Download Report Disabled in Power BI Service

If you want some other people in your organisation to be able to download the report then you can

  • create a new workspace in Power BI Service

Create a Workspace in Power BI Ser

  • add particular users you want to be able to download the report
  • make them admin over the workspace and save

Add users to new Workspace

  • Publish the report from Power BI Desktop to the new workspace

Pubish Power BI Desktop Report to Works

Now when the users log into their Power BI Service account they only need to open the new workspace then they’ll be able to download the report you created and published to the service.


Open Power BI Service Workspace

Download Report from Workspace on Power BI Service

Thanks to Mudit Marwah for bringing the last part to my attention.

As I stated earlier, this is a very good start, however, there are still some limitations applied to this feature. I hope Power BI development team improve the feature so that we can download the reports created in Power BI Service from scratch which would make the feature more handy.

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