At this point, Power BI has extended itself beyond the definition of just a data visualization tool and truly is a robust business intelligence platform. One of the more powerful elements of Power BI is the ability to distribute reporting to end users for self-service analytics through a Power BI Workspace App. And I’m not talking about the Power BI mobile application.
A Power BI App is essentially just a wrapper for the reports in a workspace that allows you to distribute those reports to end users in a single UI.
In this blog, we’ll cover what a Power BI App is, what it can do for your team, and how to quickly create one.
What is a Power BI Workspace App?
A Power BI Workspace App or more simply put, a Power BI App, is a single interface designed to provide access to reports from a workspace. For many, this definition may seem similar to a workspace, so let’s make that distinction now:
A Workspace is a collaborative repository for all of your Power BI content, including reports, dashboards, datasets, and data flows (or other Fabric content if your company has that enabled). Workspaces are also used to provision user access privileges. You can distribute reports directly from the workspace, but doing so with an app is considered to be a best practice.
A Power BI App is used solely to distribute reports from a single workspace in one UI. This UI allows users to navigate between the included reports without needing to open multiple browsers.
View of a Power BI Workspace
View of a Power BI App
Who Gets Access to the Power BI App?
In general, there are two groups of users who have access to the workspace app.
Those with direct access to the workspace automatically inherit access to the app – this is true for any of the workspace roles (Admins, Members, and Contributors) – however, you users need Contributor access at a minimum to edit the app.
End users of the app whom the reports were designed for – the end users can further be segmented into different groups called App Audiences that get access to different reports in the same workspace via the same app (at the time of writing this blog, there is a maximum of 10 audiences per app)
More on App Audiences
The app audience functionality gives developers the ability to create different versions of the same app. Content within a workspace is divided into separate audiences and shared with specific users. This feature is designed to assist with the organization and distribution of Power BI content as well as reduce the number of workspaces in your tenant.
Here is an example of when you may use multiple app audiences:
Let’s say you work on the sales team designing Power BI reports. The Sales Workspace has reports for all of the regional sales teams (Midwest, Northeast, South, and West), as well as reports with aggregated data for executives.
Developers can create different audiences for each of the sales regions and the executives, totaling five different audiences. This way, only the reports relevant to the user from a specific audience will be available when that user accesses the app.
How to Create & Publish a Power BI App
Click on the “Create app” link directly beneath the title of the workspace towards the top of the screen
Fill out the Setup screen:
The App name is displayed to the end users and how they will search for it in the tenant
The description is required and provides context for the users for the reports that are included in the app
Customize the app with a team logo and select a color if you want
Select the appropriate contact information for the app – Show app publisher is the default and will be the email address associated with the Power BI account of the person creating the app.
The support site is not a required field, but you could link a URL here – for example, a link to documentation on SharePoint or Confluence.
3. Click on the Next: Add content button on the bottom right.
4. Complete the Content screen – This is where you will select which content in the workspace should be included in the app.
Click the + Add content button on the left or the green one in the center of the screen.
In the next window, select which content should be included in the app and then click the green Add button.
Drag the reports into the order you would like them to appear for the end user and rename them if you’d like
d. Click on the green Next: Add Audiences button on the bottom right.
5. Complete the Audience setup – This is where you can create the different app versions for multiple user audiences
By default, an audience with the same name as the app will be created. You can rename this audience if you want.
Hover over the reports on the left and click the eye icon to hide reports from this audience view
Add the appropriate viewers to this audience individually or via security groups on the right
Add another audience by clicking the + New Audience button and following the previous steps for adding members and hiding content
Advanced Settings – These settings on the right are dependent on your use case but are very important:
Select to give people the ability to share the datasets used by the app audiences
Select to give the audience build permissions on the Power BI dataset – which means they can connect to the dataset in the workspace and build their own reports. This is very powerful for self-service use cases.
6. Click the green Publish app button – a window will appear asking you to confirm
How to Distribute & Access Your Power BI App
Now that you’ve created and published the app, you’ll want to make sure your users know where to find it. Anyone with access to the workspace where the app content is stored, as well as any additional users who were given access in the app setup process, will be able to use and find the app with these steps:
Navigate to the Apps page from the side panel in the Power BI Service
Click the green Get Apps button on the top right
Search for your app by name in the popup window and then click Get it now. This will automatically open the app and add it to the list of apps you see when you first open the Apps page.
You can optionally add the app to your favorite list by clicking the star in the App list window or directly in the app itself.
Power BI Workspace Apps offer a one-stop-shop for users to access published content without needing to open multiple windows that they need to switch back and forth between. This means that it’s easier for the end-user to find, access, and use all of the relevant reports in a single location instead of needing to remember the individual names and locations of all of the reports they use.
If you need additional help or are curious about how to better leverage Power BI, reach out to the experts at phData today for help, guidance, and best practices!
At the time of writing this, there is a limit of one app per workspace. You can, however, create multiple app audiences, which will create the effect of multiple apps in the same workspace.
Yes! You can create any combination of the reports in a workspace to be distributed to different audiences.