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Our take on the new features introduced in the October 2019 update for Power BI
Part five of a six-part series of blogs

This month's big story is a huge range of improvements to the Q&A feature in Power BI, with more in the preview pipeline. There are also a built-in PowerApps visual, improvements to data profiling in Query Editor and a new template for connecting to datasets.

  1. Updates to Power BI for October 2019
  2. The new Q+A visual, and many other Q+A changes
  3. The PowerApps visual is now part of Power BI
  4. Data profiling enhancements in Query Editor
  5. PBIDS files to create data access templates (this blog)
  6. Features in Power BI preview as at October 2019

For a cumulative list of all of the updates to Power BI Desktop in the last few years see this blog, or have a look at the Power BI courses that we run.

Posted by Andy Brown on 20 October 2019

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PBIDS files to create data access templates

Although it's implementation is a bit primitive, I love this feature!  You can create a text file and save it with the extension .pbids.  When you send this to someone and they double-click on it, they will be able to choose which data to connect to.

How .pbids files work

To show this, I'll take a fairly unrealistic example.  Suppose that you want to give your users a chance to link to one of the tables on our Power BI training page:

PBIDS file

When a user double-clicks on a file with the .pbids extension, Power BI will open a report and ask a user to choose from the connections within it.

Here's what we want a user to see when they double-click on the .pbids file above:

Choosing a table

A user can choose any table from the data source given in the .pbids file (here Power BI lists web page tables, but these could be files in a folder, SQL Server tables, etc.).

One big restriction at the moment: all of the tables must come from the same data source.

Creating a .pbids file

To create a text file like the one shown above, a good place to start is to copy one of the templates from this page:

Web template

I copied this template, but there are 6 or 7 others listed.


Create a new text document (there is no template editor yet for this feature!):

Creating a text file

One way to do this is to right-click in Windows Explorer and choose the option shown above.

Paste in the copied text, and change the file extension from .txt to .pbids.  You're now ready to try double-clicking on the file to see what happens!

If you're linking to a database you can either hard-code the mode (Import or DirectQuery) or let the user choose it, and likewise either hard-code the database name or let the user choose this too.

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