Power BI and PowerApps Are Two Peas in a Pod
In case you forgot:
- Power BI is an outstanding tool for making interactive dashboards and reports.
- PowerApps is the ultimate tool for building business apps without code.
- The fact that Power BI has a space in its name and PowerApps does not drive me crazy.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
In previous articles, I have introduced you to building your first Power BI report and your first PowerApps app. Well, today I am going to make sure you know about the coolest idea ever. You can combine the two.
With the latest preview feature, you can embed a PowerApps app into your Power BI report. And while sticking an app on the page would be cool, they went all the way and you can even pass data to the PowerApps app from the Power BI report. WOW!
I am imagining scenarios such as:
- Creating an inventory dashboard that provides for on-demand ordering through the app
- An executive status dashboard where they assign tasks and send feedback on the fly
- Something much cooler that you thought of and I didn’t
The only limit is your imagination. The idea though, as we continue to move to a more data-driven world, is there will be greater demand for actionable data and if this data is actionable, shouldn’t we make it as easy as possible to take the action? PowerApps and Power BI are ahead of the game as usual.
One thing to keep in mind. Right now, the PowerApps Visual for Power BI is in preview. So, you may find a wart or two along the way. The good news is Microsoft is really excited about this functionality, so I am betting it comes out of preview pretty fast, maybe not as fast you read this article, but fast. If you check out my video, linked at the end of the article, I help you overcome some of the current hurdles.
Okay, maybe there are two things to keep in mind. With Power BI, you have the option to use either the web builder or the Power BI Desktop client. Normally, things are pretty similar in the two tools. This isn’t the case in this scenario. The current version of the desktop client can add the PowerApps visual but it cannot launch the connection. This means that while you are following along here, you should use the Power BI website to build your report. I am sure they will change this soon.
How you get started is probably your first question. If it isn’t, it should be. How else can I anticipate your needs if you don’t ask the right question? Anyway. To build out this experience, you start with Power BI and then work your way over to PowerApps. All of this is much easier to wrap your head around with this being an additional functionality in Power BI instead of the other direction.
From your Power BI Workspace, you need to create a new Report. Now that you have a blank canvas, look over at Visualizations, click the ellipses, and choose Import from marketplace. Then, when the marketplace opens, type in PowerApps and press enter to do a search. Click Add to add PowerApps (Preview) and you should be in business.
Now in your Visualizations section, you will see a goofy looking purple icon for PowerApps. Click on the icon to add the Visualization to the page. Before you can launch off into PowerApps, you need to select what data you want to send between the two. So from Fields, choose one or more fields to send. These will be the only fields available when you are working in PowerApps so choose wisely.
After you select your fields, the Visualization will give you the choice of connecting to a new app or choosing an existing app. Make your choice. If you don’t see buttons to choose, either you haven’t added a field or you are using the desktop app. If you are using the desktop app, you need to publish the app and then go to the website editor to launch the PowerApps connection. Sorry.
Over in PowerApps, there will be a Custom connection and you can build your app as you normally would. To interact with your Power BI data, use PowerBIIntegration as the name of the data source. So, to specify a field named EmailAddress, you would type PowerBIIntegration.EmailAddress just like normal. If your field has a space in the name, use single quotes. Now, it is just like every other PowerApps data connection. In the example video, I cover using the Gallery and ThisItem functions to help cement the concepts.
Once you are done making the world’s greatest app, you need to push it back to Power BI. To do so, give your PowerApps app a decent name and then save it. After you finish saving it, click Share this app. For now, I would select with everyone in my org to share it with. You can worry about proper security after you finish proving this all works.
Now switch back to PowerBI and boom. You have your App right there in your Report. My work here is done.
I guess to be fair, there is a lot more to explore but that will have to be for another day. The biggest thing to consider is connecting the app, so you are filtering or sorting the data based on what they have clicked in the App. Super fancy.
BONUS: I made you guys a quick video that demos configuring your first PowerApps Visual for Power BI. There were a bunch of “gotchas” along the way, so thought it was easier to share this way. I hope you enjoy.
Now that you have your first app connected, get to work. What awesome BI solutions can you enable for your company now that you can tie two great tools together? And don’t forget, Flow also fits in nicely with these tools to keep building more amazing, no-code solutions. There is a reason I have dubbed 2018 the year of PowerApps.