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Publishing reports, editing them in Power BI Service and using dashboards/tiles
Part four of a six-part series of blogs

This blog shows how to publish reports that you've created in Power BI Desktop to Power BI Service. The blog also shows how you can create and edit reports online, how to create dashboards and add tiles, and how to get insights into your data.

  1. Using Power BI Service (publishing, dashboards, etc.)
  2. Publishing to Power BI Service
  3. Creating and editing reports in Power BI Service
  4. Creating dashboards and basic tiles (this blog)
  5. Adding tiles from other sources to a dashboard
  6. Analysing data within Power BI Service

This blog is part of a longer series, which together comprise a full online training course in Power BI Service.  You can see get details of our classsrom Power BI training courses here.

Posted by Andy Brown on 29 June 2017

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Creating dashboards and basic tiles

A dashboard consists of one or more tiles:

Dashboard example

This dashboard consists of a card and a KPI, both lifted from a published report.

You can see your dashboards in the toolbar on the left of Power BI Service:

Two dashboards

Here we've created two dashboards.


This blog will look at how to create and use dashboards; the next part of this series will look at some clever things you can do with tiles.

The difference between reports and dashboards

Why would you create a dashboard when you already have a report?  Here are some of the main differences between the two ways of showing data:

Difference Notes
Interactivity Reports can include slicers, drill-down and interactions between visualisations, as well as multiple pages.  They are thus interactive in a way that dashboards definitely are not.
Auto-refresh You can set dashboards to refresh automatically (although the rules are complicated).  Reports, by contrast, do not auto-refresh when you have them open.
Q&A Dashboards give you the ability to ask questions about the data displayed.

Think of a dashboard as a single view of everything going on within your organisation, and a report as providing detailed analysis of a single aspect of your business.

Creating dashboards and pinning tiles

The easy way to create a dashboard is to pin a tile to it.  Hover over any part of your report, and click on the pin which appears:

Pinning a tile

The exception to this rule is that you can't pin slicers.


You can then choose on which dashboard this tile should appear:

Pinning to new dashboard

You can either pin tiles to a new dashboard, or choose an existing one.


Getting dashboards to flow

When you click on tiles and drag them round a dashboard, the effect won't necessarily be a good one:

Dashboard with odd tiles

The tiles aren't flowing from top left to bottom right.

To change this, edit the settings of the dashboard:

Dashboard settings

There are a few ways to get at a dashboard's settings - the one shown here is to click on the three dots to the right of the dashboard's name.

You can now turn on tile flow:

Tick tile flow

Tick the box shown to apply tile flow.  The difference is quite subtle: tiles will move to fill any gaps which open up.


Viewing the report or data for a tile

If you want to see the underlying report or data for a tile, here's how.  First choose to bring up the tile's menu:

Tile menu

Within the dashboard, hover over the tile and choose this option.


You can now choose to go to the report from which the tile came:

Go to report

Choose this option to go to the tile's source report.


If you delete the report, this option will take you to the dataset on which the report was based.  If you delete the dataset on which the tile is based, you'll automatically delete the tile at the same time.

Alternatively, choose this option to create a CSV file containing the underlying data:

Exporting tile data

Choose this icon to export the data to a file.


In this case, the CSV files isn't that exciting!

CSV file of exported data

The CSV file shows the single figure displayed by the KPI tile.


Changing a tile's title and subtitle

You can change the title/subtitle for a tile using its menu:

Changing title

First choose to display the menu for a tile by clicking on this icon.


Now choose to display the details for the tile:

Tile details

Click on the pencil icon to display the tile's title and subtitle.

You can now say whether you want a title and/or subtitle to display for the tile:

Title and subtitle options

Here I've gone for both - and the last time the data refreshed too.


Here's what this gives:

Last refresh date

The title and subtitle, together with the date and time when the data was last refreshed.


Making a tile clickable

If you want to connect a tile to a website or specific report, choose the options shown immediately above to bring up the tile's details, then fill these in as follows:

Custom website external link

Here clicking on the tile will take us to an external website, but you can also choose to link a tile to a specific report (other than the one from which it came).


When you click on the tile to edit it, you see the website address you've entered:

Website address

Normally this would display the words Go to report.

Pinning an entire page (Live Pages)

One of the problems with tiles is that you can't pin slicers.  You can get round this by pinning an entire report:

Pin live page

Go to a report, and choose to pin the entire page you're looking at.

The advantage of doing this is in the name: the data is live, and you can interact with it.

Setting a featured dashboard

When you go to Power BI Service, by default it will select the featured dashboard by default.  Here's how to set this:

Set as featured

Click on this icon while viewing a dashboard to make it the default one you view.

Generating Alerts for a Tile

You can set data alerts for gauges, KPIs and cards (any visualisation which represents a single number).  For our example, we might want to get an alert when the number of skills tests taken reaches 312,000 (an arbitrary but convenient number).  To do this, first edit a tile's settings:

Tile menu

Choose to open a tile's menu (make sure it's a card, gauge or KPI).


Now create an alert:

Manage alerts

This icon is only present for single-figure visualisations, like this card.


Choose to add an alert:

Add alert rule

Click on the big yellow button!


You can now set up an alert:

Creating an alert

Alerts are fairly basic: you can only create them for when the statistic the visualisation is measuring is above or below a specific value. Here I've chosen to send myself an email too.


Alerts can only be created for tiles created from Power BI reports; can only apply to gauges, cards and KPIs; and can only be used by the person who created the report.

So much for the basics of dashboards and tiles - let's have a look now at some other ways in which you can add tiles to a dashboard. 

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