This blog was originally posted to the Piraeus Consulting blog on February 22nd, 2016 and may contain out-of-date information.
For those who have followed my previous posts on the new Power BI application from Microsoft, you’ve probably already created some fantastic-looking visuals to tell the story of your data. If the art of tapping into a variety of sources, editing your dataset on the fly, and customizing your charts and graphs is old news, then let’s look at how you can manage your Power BI content in a whole new way. By this, I mean sharing your impressive visualizations through a new group workspace. Using this workspace, you can add granular membership and control permissions at the user level. While we’re at it, we will also look at how to migrate existing reports to this space and how to update and manage them through content packs.
Why Create a New Group Workspace?
A question you might have is “What are the benefits of creating a new group workspace in Power BI?” Here are some of the top business needs that come to mind:
- Sharing sensitive content with a defined audience. Group workspaces allow you to tailor your audience at the user level, so that you can indicate with whom you would like to share and in what way, i.e., read or edit access. We’ll look at how to manage this more closely later.
- Publishing and updating your content with content packs. As I mentioned above, this feature is highly useful for deploying content to a group workspace and controlling how you manage future iterations.
- Leveraging OneDrive. Each group workspace that’s created is also connected to a unique OneDrive space. This allows you to store any other documentation or data to support your content.
Important note: You need a Power BI Pro account in order to utilize and create group workspaces. Sixty-day free trials are available.
Okay, so where do you get started? Another great question. Let’s dive in and take a look!
How to Create a New Group Workspace
When you first log in on the Power BI website, it will default to your personal workspace called “My Workspace”. It’s important to note that all content that you publish from the desktop Power BI application will be automatically directed here. However, it’s easy to set up a new group workspace from here. Simply click the drop-down arrow next to “My Workspace” in the upper left corner, and then click the “+” icon to the right of “GROUP WORKSPACES” (shown below).
From there, you’ll see the menu to create your new group. As you can see in the screenshot below, all that’s needed is a name, the appropriate privacy and access options, and the aliases for users that you would like to add.
When completing these form fields, consider the following:
- Name – Be specific and unique but also make it easy to remember.
- Privacy – The default option for a “Private” space will ensure that only users to which you provide access will be able to view the content. If you’d like to create a “Public” space instead, which can be viewed by anyone with a Power BI account, just switch this option in the dropdown.
In the second field under “Privacy”, you can choose what level of access to provide your “Members”. (Once added, you can make any other user an “Admin”, which, as the creator, you will be by default.) By leaving this field as is, you’ll grant all Members the ability to edit all content in the workspace – dashboards, reports, and datasets. Unless you’re working with a small group that’s highly familiar with the content, I’d recommend switching it to “View Only” (as seen below). Then, you can make anyone who needs editing capabilities an Admin as needed.
- Add Group Members – Currently, Power BI authenticates via UPN (User Principal Name), so you’ll have to provide the full email address. From there, you can assign “Member” or “Admin” status.
Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to begin creating or migrating content to your new group workspace!
Creating a Content Pack
For the purpose of initially migrating existing reports to your new workspace, AND updating them later, using the content pack feature is a smart way to facilitate these tasks.
To begin from your new group workspace, navigate to the gear wheel icon in the upper right corner and click to select the drop down. From there, you’ll find the option to “Create Content Pack”. After selecting that, you’ll see the screen below which allows you to create your new content pack:
Once you’ve completed the necessary fields, check the boxes for all content that you would like to include. A few items that you might notice when viewing your options:
- Only content you’ve previously published to your personal workspace will be available.
- If you select an existing dashboard, it will automatically select the reports and datasets associated with it.
When you have the appropriate choices configured for your new content pack, just click “Publish”. Upon completion, you’ll see a pop-up message that confirms publication.
Configuring Your Content Pack
Okay, so how do you use it? Well, let’s go and find your new content pack and put it to good use. Start by selecting the “Get Data” button in the bottom left (as seen below).
On the following screen, you’ll see upload options. The two on the left will allow you to choose either a content pack created with your organization (this is likely where you’ll find yours) or a public one from an online service that partners with Microsoft. To find your specific content pack, click the “Get” button below the “My Organization” section (see the screenshot below).
Once you’re viewing all the available content packs within your organization, you can scan and browse for the appropriate one or use the search functionality in the upper right.
When you’ve found the one you want, select it and click “Connect” in the pop up window. At this point, you’ve successfully imported your content into your new group workspace!
If you want to update existing content packs in order to refresh existing content, simply use the “View Content Packs” option in the settings menu in the upper right (under the gear wheel icon). From there, you can choose to edit (or remove) any previously published content packs.
If a content pack doesn’t suit your needs for uploading or migrating content into Power BI, you can choose an alternative by uploading them to the OneDrive account associated with your group workspace (found by clicking on the “…” symbol next to the workspace name and selecting “Files”) and using Windows Explorer to drag and drop files as needed.
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