Power BI

The Ultimate Power BI Tools Guide

Power BI Tools

Table of Contents

Business Intelligence (BI) tools are gaining popularity exponentially. We get it – you wonder what makes Power BI such a robust and unparalleled BI tool. And today, we are going to answer that. 

Power BI is not a stand alone tool. It works in collaboration with so much other tools that thus make this platform incredibly powerful. 

With its unmatched insights into data, Power BI is at the forefront of business intelligence and data visualisation. Regardless of your level of experience, this set of resources, which includes real-world examples, will enable you to efficiently optimize your Power BI projects.

Here we have put together an ultimate guide for you to set up your Power BI tools and get started. 

Official Power BI Tools

1. Power BI Desktop

This is the primary tool for creating Power BI reports and data models.

2. Power BI Service

Power BI  service is an online service for sharing, viewing, and interacting with Power BI reports.

3. Power BI Data Gateway

Facilitates secure data transfer between on-premises data sources and Power BI Service.

4. Power BI Mobile Apps

Allows access to Power BI reports on mobile devices.

5. Power Query

A data connection technology that enables you to discover, connect, combine, and refine data sources.

6. DAX (Data Analysis Expressions)

A library of functions and operators used to build formulas and expressions in Power BI.

Core Power BI Development Tools

1. DAX Formatter by SQLBI

Formats DAX queries to improve readability. It’s a web-based tool that helps clean up your DAX code according to best practices.

  • Practical Scenario: When you inherit a Power BI project with complex DAX measures that are hard to read, using DAX Formatter can quickly make the code more understandable.
  • Link: DAX Formatter
  • Limitations: Online connectivity is required to use the tool, and it may not handle very complex queries as expected in all cases.

2. DAX Studio

A versatile tool for executing DAX queries against Power BI models or SQL Server Analysis Services databases. It provides detailed query execution diagnostics to help optimize performance.

  • Practical Scenario: If you’re experiencing slow report performance, DAX Studio can help you analyze and optimize your DAX queries to improve execution times.
  • Link: DAX Studio
  • Limitations: While powerful, there’s a learning curve to effectively utilize all its features.

3. Tabular Editor

An advanced editor for managing Tabular models in Analysis Services, Power BI, and Power Pivot. Allows for scripting, batch editing, and model validation.

  • Practical Scenario: When managing large Power BI models, Tabular Editor allows you to batch edit measures and properties, saving time and ensuring consistency across your model.
  • Link: Tabular Editor
  • Limitations: The most advanced features are reserved for the paid version.

4. Power BI Sidetools

Enhances Power BI Desktop with additional features like a DAX debugger and code-saving capabilities, aiming to improve productivity.

  • Practical Scenario: For developers looking to debug DAX expressions or save versions of their work, Power BI Sidetools provides an integrated environment within Power BI Desktop for enhanced productivity.
  • Link: The BI Power
  • Limitations: Integration is mainly with Power BI Desktop, and features may vary based on Power BI updates.

5. Bravo for Power BI

Created by SQLBI, this tool offers features like model analysis, DAX formatting, date management, and data export functionalities.

  • Practical Scenario: If your model is too large and you need to identify and format DAX measures or manage date tables efficiently, Bravo for Power BI offers a straightforward UI for these tasks.
  • Link: Bravo.bi
  • Limitations: Some features might overlap with what’s available in other SQLBI tools, possibly causing confusion.

6. Measure Killer for Power BI

Aids in identifying and removing unused measures and columns in your Power BI models, helping to maintain cleaner models.

  • Practical Scenario: When cleaning up a Power BI model before deployment, Measure Killer can identify and remove unused measures to streamline the model.
  • Link: Measure Killer | Brunner BI
  • Limitations: Its utility is focused on cleaning up models, which might not be necessary for smaller projects.

7. Power Query Formatter

Formats M code used in Power Query for better readability and maintenance.

  • Practical Scenario: For those working extensively with Power Query M code, keeping the code clean and readable is essential. Power Query Formatter can automatically format your scripts for better maintenance.
  • Link: Power Query Formatter
  • Limitations: As with DAX Formatter, online access is required, and formatting preferences might not suit everyone.

8. ALM Toolkit

For comparing and merging Power BI datasets, including DAX measures. It’s particularly useful in application lifecycle management scenarios.

  • Practical Scenario: In a scenario where you need to merge changes from two versions of a Power BI report or implement version control, ALM Toolkit provides the necessary tools to compare and merge datasets and code.
  • Link: Alm Tool Kit
  • Limitations: Requires understanding of Power BI development practices and version control concepts.

9. Power BI Visuals Marketplace

  • Description: Explore custom visuals developed by the community and Microsoft, enhancing your reports’ effectiveness and visual appeal.
  • Practical Scenario: Incorporate the Histogram, a custom visual from the marketplace, to better display distribution data in a market research report.
  • Link: App Source Microsoft

10. Power BI Robots

  • Description: Automate the distribution of Power BI reports and dashboards via email or to other platforms, ensuring stakeholders receive timely updates.
  • Practical Scenario: Schedule weekly sales performance reports to be emailed to your sales team every Monday morning.
  • Link: Power BI Tiles

11. Power BI Template Apps

  • Description: Leverage pre-built Power BI apps to quickly connect to popular services and datasets, accelerating your dashboard development.
  • Practical Scenario: Use the Google Analytics template app to rapidly create comprehensive analytics dashboards for your website.
  • Link: Accessible within the Power BI service; search for template apps in the “Apps” section.

12. Power BI Tiles

  • Description: Embed live Power BI reports and dashboards within Microsoft Office documents for dynamic and interactive presentations.
  • Practical Scenario: Integrate live sales data into a PowerPoint presentation to provide real-time insights during quarterly business reviews.
  • Link: Power BI Tiles

Expanding the Tool Kit

Enhance your Power BI toolkit further with these additional resources:

1. BI Helper

Automate the generation and distribution of Power BI reports, saving time on manual tasks.

Link: BI Helper

2. Power BI Tips and Tricks

A compilation of best practices, design templates, and custom visuals to enhance your reports.

Link: Power BI Tips

3. Visual Studio Code Extensions for Power BI

Enhance your DAX and M code editing with powerful extensions like DAX Formatter and Power Query Formatter integrated into VS Code.

Link: Visual Studio Marketplace

4. DataFlows

Utilise this tool to prepare and transform data in a self-service manner, making it easier to manage data cleansing and integration tasks.

Link: Learn Microsoft

Other Resources

1. Websites and Blogs

1. Power BI Training Blogs

2. Radacad Blogs

3. Guided Learning by Microsoft

4. Coursera (search for “Power BI”) 

5. Power BI Community

6. Reddit

2. Galleries and Themes

1. Power BI Data Stories Gallery

Discover how others in the community are using Power BI to tell compelling data stories across various industries.

Microsoft Fabric Community

2. Theme Gallery

Customise your reports with themes from the Power BI community or create your own to ensure consistency in report design.

Themes Gallery

Wrapping Up...

This comprehensive guide aims to introduce you to the essential Power BI development tools. We also aim to inspire you to explore the full potential of Power BI for your business.

By integrating these tools into your workflow, you’ll unlock new levels of efficiency and insight in your Power BI projects.

Remember, the journey to mastering Power BI is continuous, and these tools are here to support you every step of the way.

Need Support?

In case you need any help navigating the platform or regarding Power BI for your business, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

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