Power BI Version Control – Ready to use solution

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Power BI Version Control

Power BI Version Control is a free, fully packaged solution that lets users apply version control, local editing and manage PBIX or PBIT files. The solution is fully in the Power Platform and SharePoint environment. Power BI Version Control (also known as Power BI Source Control) can give business users or smaller organizations the ability to easily implement version control for their Power BI projects.


DOWNLOAD HERE

The latest version is 1.0.0 BETA Release

This is currently in Beta Release – please report any bugs here


Limitations and Scope

This solution is not necessarily a replacement for existing enterprise source control solutions. The solution will copy and publish to one single folder and is not intended to manage environments (e.g. dev / test / prod).

We encourage to always work from a DEV / TEST environment and manage approval and deployment pipelines additionally.

The solution performs the main tasks:

  • Check out and lock editing to a single user
  • Copy files to a local synced folder for safe editing
  • Keep version history and change comments

This is a list of current limitations. This functionality is on the backlog in future releases:

  • Does not keep changelog
  • No approval workflow
  • Does not manage multiple environments

What is Power BI Version Control?

Outside Power BI, version control branching is a method to make edits to code in a safe and reliable way. Typically, users “branch”, or copy, the code to their local machine to make edits. They can then “merge” the code back to the master code, adding comments of what has changed and who changed it. Each change is saved as a different version, with the ability to go back to any version. Small, frequent changes are helpful, making it easy to undo any errors.

Unlike writing pure code, Power BI reports are packaged into PBIX files. This makes it harder for multiple users to to work on branches simultaneously. While it is possible to use Azure DevOps or GitHub services, this solution uses SharePoint and the Power Platform. Furthermore, we recommend to embed into a Team channel for easy use and management.


Why use Power BI Version Control?

Single shared location for reports (no emailing files!)​

Keeping all our files in SharePoint means that we always know where to find the files. Instead of emailing files back and forth, a single location always contains the latest file that we can download.

Keep all versions of the report (no adding numbers to file name!)​

We often want to keep files from the past in case we need to roll back changes. Instead of adding version numbers or initial to the file names, SharePoint will keep all versions of your report. Additionally, by using this Power BI version control method, it is possible to roll back to any of these versions whenever needed.

Ability to check out file – only one person can make changes at a time

When working in teams, you may have multiple people working on a project (see this post on Power BI team members). If you have more than one person who may edit a file, we want to make sure they are not trying to do it at the same time. Power BI Source Control enables checking out a file. As a result nobody else can edit while you are, meaning no conflicts or working on old files.​

Ability to check in files – add comments on changes

​After making edits, we want to be able to keep comments about what was changed. With each version we are able to add a description of what has changed.

Work locally – make all changes on copies, so we do not edit our files directly

Another important benefit of Power BI source control is that we always work on copies of our reports. We can save and experiment as we work on the files, knowing that we will not accidentally damage a live report. We do all work locally on our machine and separate to our production or live reports. If needed, we can discard all changes and start again

A description of how Power BI Version Control works
A description of how Power BI Version Control works

How to use Power BI Version Control

Initial Install

You can install the app for each project. For full instructions, see the instructions which are included in the download.

Set Up

The install will create the required folders on the SharePoint site. You should sync the Checked Out Reports that was created to your local machine One Drive, allowing for local edits.

Ensure to sync only the Checked Out Reports

You can install either through SharePoint or through Microsoft teams.

From SharePoint:
  • Navigate to the correct SharePoint site
  • Select Documents and navigate to the Checked Out Reports created by the install
  • In the toolbar, select Sync
From Teams:
  • Open the teams channel
  • In the toolbar, select Files and navigate to the Checked Out Reports created by the install
  • Select Sync

You can also add the files to an existing team by selecting Add Cloud Storage. See more info on syncing here.

You can now access the files in this directory from the local machine.

Visual explanation of the installation process
The installation flows

Instructions for the App

We recommend to embed the Power BI Version Control app in a Teams channel. Additionally, the SharePoint site can be added to the Files section. Performing the above will allow all appropriate members to use Power BI source control and files in one place.

Check Out

  • Open the Power BI Version Control app 
  • Click the Check Reports Out button on the Home Screen 
  • The Check Out Screen will list all PBIX and PBIT files in the Published Reports folder. Select the reports you wish to modify in the Check Out Reports column. You will only be able to check out reports that are not already checked out
  • Click Check out reports button
  • Wait a few moments for the reports to process. It may take longer if using PBIX or large files

Editing the files

  • Navigate to OneDrive folder on your local machine. The selected reports will appear in the synced folder Checked Out Reports
  • You can now open and edit these files. If using live connections, consider using the Hot Swap Connections Tool
  • If you want to save copies you can do so in a subdirectory or elsewhere on your local machine. Avoid this when possible. We recommended to make small and frequent updates / check ins
  • When ready, make sure the only the files ready for check in are saved in Checked Out Reports. Makes sure the names of files have not been altered
  • If you manually publish reports, publish immediately before closing and checking in

Check In

Once edits are done, Check In the reports from the Checked Out Reports folder to the Published Reports folder. Alternatively, you may wish to discard your work. As a result, this will release the file and ignore any changes you have made. Next, it will delete the file from the Checked Out Reports folder.

Commit changes:
  • Open the Power BI Version Control app 
  • Click the Check Reports Out button on the Home Screen 
  • This will list all PBIX and PBIT files in the Checked Out Reports folder. Select the reports you wish to Check In in the Check Out Reports column You will only be able to check in reports that are checked out to you
  • Make sure to add comments. Include details on changes you made. If using DevOps, include task numbers where possible
  • Click Check in reports button
Discard changes:
  • Navigate to the Check In page by the button on the main page
  • This will list all PBIX and PBIT files in the Checked Out Reports folder. Next, select the reports you wish to Discard in the Discard Report column. You will only be able to discard reports that are checked out to you
  • Confirm Discard

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2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. MKE Power Platform User Group (Presenter): Version Control in Power BI for Business Users: A Power Platform Approach | Anthony Escobedo
  2. Power BI Version Control – Ready to use solution | Anthony Escobedo

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