Saturday, December 02, 2023

Lesson 2 – Introduction to Power BI Desktop

Power BI Desktop is a free desktop tool provided by Microsoft to perform the following tasks. 

  • Connect to different data sources (Cloud, SaaS, on-premises, File System etc.)
  • Cleanse and Transform the data
  • Create a data model
  • Create reports with visuals on multiple pages
  • Share reports with other users through Power BI Service and Power BI Mobile 

Power BI Desktop is an easy to use tool to build reports with visualizations.

You can downloaded via the Windows Store ( or from the website (

Note: Power BI Desktop gets updated monthly for new features and any bug fixes. If you want your Power BI Desktop to get the new version automatically then install Power BI Desktop using Windows Store. If you want to manually control the installation of the new version, then install via the Website.

Power BI Desktop – Minimum Requirements

Power BI Desktop is no longer supported on Windows 7 and Power BI Desktop is not available for Macs. To use Power BI Desktop on Mac, you need to either
  • Provision a VM on the Cloud and install Power BI Desktop and access it or
  • Install Windows on Mac using bootcamp or
  • Install Parallels Desktop and load Windows 10 and install Power BI Desktop

Quick overview of the Power BI Desktop Tool

Power BI Desktop – Views

Power BI Desktop supports 3 types of views:
  • Report – Default view. Shows all Visualizations.
  • Data – Shows all the tables, rows, and columns if data is imported inside Power BI Desktop
  • Model – View that allow users to add/change/view relationships between tables

Connect to different data sources

Power BI Desktop provides the capability to connect to various data sources irrespective of whether they are available on-premises, SaaS or Cloud. The screenshot below shows how the different data sources are categorized in Power BI Desktop. We will look at how to connect to these data sources using Power BI Desktop in our later modules.

To connect to data sources via Power BI Desktop, click on Get Data > More…

Cleanse and Transform data

Data is not always perfect in real world scenarios and will require some sort of cleansing and transformation. Power BI Desktop allows users to do cleansing and transformation of the data using the built-in Power Query Editor. Key cleansing and transformation you can do with Power Query Editor are Change data types, remove columns, Replace Values, Merge or Append data from multiple data sources, Combine files etc.

To access Power Query Editor from Power BI Desktop, click on Transform Data > Transform Data

Power Query Editor provides “Applied Steps” feature that allows to see the history of all transformations made to the dataset.

Create Data Model

Power BI Desktop provide users the ability to join data from disparate data sources and create a data model. A good data model is a great foundation for reporting and analytics. Through the model view, Power BI allows to create relationships between tables if they haven’t been defined in the underlying data sources which forms the data model.

Create Reports

Once the data and data model are ready, users can create reports using Power BI Desktop. Power BI Reports comprise of a collection of visuals. Visuals include charts, slicers, maps, tables, custom visuals etc.,

Share Reports

Reports created using Power BI Desktop can be shared with other users once they get published to the Power BI Service Portal. Once the report is published to the portal, it can be accessed using the web browser or using Power BI Mobile.

Useful Information

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