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.


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The latest version is 2.0.0


In this Article


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 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


How to use Power BI Version Control

Installing the App

  • Navigate to https://make.powerapps.com/
  • Ensure the correct environment is selected
  • On the left menu bar, navigate to Solutions
  • Select Import on the top menu bar
  • Select browse and chose the PowerBIVersionControl_2_0.zip file
  • Click Next and Next again until you reach the Connections screen
  • If you have existing SharePoint connections you wish to use (recommended), you can select them from the dropdown. If not:
    • select + New Connection.
    • Select how to connect (usually recommended to Connect Directly)
    • In the new page that opens, click create and sign in if prompted
    • Once created, you can close the current tab and navigate back to the import screen
    • Click refresh then select the new connection from the dropdown list
  • Click Import. This step may take a few minutes to complete

Configuring the App

  • Navigate to https://make.powerapps.com/
  • Ensure the correct environment is selected
  • On the left menu bar, navigate to Solutions
  • In the list of Solutions, find Power BI Version Control
  • Click the ellipsis and select edit
  • The app will now open in edit mode
  • Add the SharePoint folder by following the following steps:
    1. Open the data sources tab
    2. Select Add data
    3. Type SharePoint in the search bar
    4. Select SharePoint (note: be careful not to select SharePoint Sites)
    5. Choose the SharePoint connection you selected earlier
    6. In the pane that opens, enter the URL of the SharePoint site. This should be in the format:
      https://DOMAIN.sharepoint.com/sites/SITENAME
    7. Click Connect
    8. Choose the correct Document Library and click Connect
  • Select the tree view and navigate to the Settings Screen
  • Fix any red x marks on the page by updating the settings to match your folder structure (as described in the next section). If you used the default folder and document library names you should not need to update any settings

Setting the connections

  • There are four numbered blue boxes that may require updating. If you see any red x marks next to any of the following boxes, click on that box and update the required property.

1.

Click this box and make sure Items is selected. Update the text to match the document library name (this is also the name of the data source you imported earlier). Use the intellisense so ensure the correct value is selected. The text should turn green when correct and the red x should disappear.

2.

Click this box and make sure OnSelect is selected. The formula should read Refresh(‘[Your Document Library]’). Update the text to match the document library name (this is also the name of the data source you imported earlier). Use the intellisense so ensure the correct value is selected. The text should turn green when correct and the red x should disappear.

3.

Click this blue box (not the label) and make sure Text is selected. Update this to the checked out folder name, surrounded by double quotation marks.

Note: if you add a forward slash to the end of the folder name, this will add all checked out folders to the same folder. Otherwise, a subfolder will be created for each user based on their user ID.

4.

Click this blue box (not the label) and make sure Text is selected. Update this to the published reports folder name, surrounded by double quotation marks.

  • Check that there are no red x marks. A red error message will also show at the bottom of the screen if there are any errors in set up. Resolve all errors before publishing.
  • Click File then Save
  • After the app has saved, click Publish to ensure all changes are deployed

Using the App

We recommend embedding the Power BI Version Control app in a Teams channel. Additionally, the SharePoint site can be added to the Files section in Teams. 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 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 (or subdirectory)
  • 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 (or subdirectory). 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 or Planner tasks, 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

Helpful Tips

Also included in the app is a flow called Initial Step: Create Power BI Reports Library with Folders.

  • Open the flow and select Run
  • Paste in your SharePoint site where you wish to create the folders, site e.g. https://powerbitips.sharepoint.com/sites/powerbi

Running this will automatically create a library and folders in your desired site. It will use default names, which means you will not need to configure the app in the settings page after connecting to the data source.

Sync Folders

You should sync the Checked Out Reports (or subdirectory) that was created to your local machine One Drive, allowing for local edits. If using subdirectories, you must check out a file once to create the folder.

Ensure to sync only the Checked Out Reports (or correct subdirectory).

You can sync either through SharePoint or through Microsoft teams.

From SharePoint:
  • Navigate to the correct SharePoint site
  • Select Documents and navigate to the Checked Out Reports (or subdirectory)
  • In the toolbar, select Sync
From Teams:
  • Open the teams channel
  • In the toolbar, select Files and navigate to the Checked Out Reports (or subdirectory)
  • 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.


Limitations and Scope

Known issues:

The app will fail is the internal SharePoint name and the Display name do not match. This happens when a SharePoint is created, and the display name is manually changed later. We are working on a patch for this.

Design:

This solution is designed to handle thin PIX files and not large models. The solution will copy and publish to one single folder and is not intended to manage environments (e.g. dev / test / prod). It should be connected to a Development environment, we recommend using deployment pipelines to move it through environments.

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

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