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Power BI Reporting: Beginner's Guide

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

data reporting

Few people nowadays are familiar with the term "business intelligence." Every day, new, more engaging BI technologies emerge, enticing many organizations to use them to assist them to solve their crisis. As such, Power BI certified professionals are much sought after and come in handy in this situation because the software is designed to let anyone analyze and display their data. Non-technical business employees can use this tool to produce interactive Power BI reports.

Understanding the Power BI Report

A Power BI report is a multi-perspective view of a dataset that includes visualizations that illustrate various discoveries and insights from the dataset. A report can contain a single visualization or multiple visualizations across multiple pages. A report's visualizations are similar to those on a dashboard, but they serve a distinct purpose.

These aren't static visualizations. In truth, with highly interactive and customizable visualizations that update as the underlying data changes, this is far from the case. To discover insights and find solutions, you can add and remove data, alter visualization kinds, and apply filters to your model.

Although the phrases "report" and "dashboard" are often used interchangeably, they are not synonymous. The features of a Report and a Dashboard are compared in the table below.

Dashboards vs Reports

On the other hand, a report elaborates on a single dataset over several pages, whereas a dashboard summarizes multiple datasets on a single page.

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Understanding Power BI Report Server

Power BI Report Server is an on-premises report server that includes a web interface for viewing and managing reports and KPIs and tools for creating Power BI reports, paginated reports, mobile reports, and KPIs.

It's similar to SQL Server Reporting Services and the Power BI online tool in certain ways, but not in others. Like the Power BI service, Power BI Report Server stores Power BI reports (.PBIX) and Excel files. Power BI Report Server, like Reporting Services, is on-premises and hosts paginated reports (.RDL). Your users can see the reports in a web browser or mobile device, or they can receive them as an email in their inbox.

Power BI Report Server is a superset of Reporting Services, allowing you to perform everything Reporting Services allows you to do and more, with the addition of support for Power BI reports.

What distinguishes the Report Server from the Service?

The Power BI Report Server shares many similarities with the Power BI Service, but it also has some differences. Everything is explained in the table below.

Power BI Service & Power BI Report Server

Tips and Tricks for Creating Powerful Power BI Reports

  1. If you want variety in your visualizations, don't do it just for the sake of variety. Visualizations should be easy to "read" and interpret and should paint an image. A simple graphics visualization is sufficient for some data and visualizations. On the other hand, other data may necessitate a more complicated depiction; be sure to include titles, labels, and other customizations to aid the reader.

  2. Make sure to encode quantitative data properly. When showing numbers, don't use more than three or four numerals. Display measures to one or two decimal places to the left of the decimal point, with a scale in thousands or millions.

  3. Avoid combining precision and time levels. Make sure that the time frames are clear. There isn't a single chart that shows the previous month alongside filtered charts from a given month of the year. Also, when using a line or bar chart, avoid combining large and tiny measures on the same scale. One action might be in the millions, while the other might be in the thousands. It would be difficult to notice the variations between thousands of measurements on such a big scale. If you need to spice things up, utilize a visualization that allows you to include a second axis, such as a combo chart.

  4. Use caution when utilizing charts that distort reality, such as 3-D charts and charts that begin at zero. Keep in mind that the human brain has a harder time interpreting circular forms. Although pie charts, doughnut charts, gauges, and other circular chart forms are attractive, is there a better visual you might employ instead?

  5. Sort by a different column The default order for category (string) values in Power BI for chart axes, slicers, and filters are alphabetical. You can tell Power BI Desktop to sort by a different column if you need to override this order for days of the week or months. To keep in mind: italics in the data grid do not indicate that the data type is appropriately configured; they suggest that the data is not considered Text.

  6. Pay attention to the order in which the charts are displayed. Sort by the measure if you want to highlight the highest or lowest number. Sort by the axis if you want people to identify a specific category among numerous others quickly.

  7. Power BI works with Bing to give default map coordinates (a process known as geocoding) to make creating maps easier. Bing employs algorithms and hints to try to figure out where you are, but it's only a guess. You can perform something like this to boost the chances of accurate geocoding. When making a map, you're usually interested in plotting countries, states, and cities. If you name columns after the geographic designation in Power BI Desktop, Bing will be able to identify what you want to display.

  8. It is better if fewer than eight categories are in a pie chart. Pie charts are more challenging to compare than bar and column charts since you can't compare values side by side. Instead of comparing parts, pie charts can be useful for viewing part-to-whole relationships. Gauge charts are also useful for displaying the current status in relation to a goal.

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