Power BI Content Workflow – with Apps

My very first blog post on this site was to help Power BI authors and administrators understand the best way to deliver content across their organization. After nearly two years since general availability, Power BI has now streamlined the content delivery process with the introduction of “Apps”.

I have already found a few really good blog posts explaining how to use Apps. Ajay Anandan did a step by step walk-through on the Power BI Blog earlier this month so i will not be doing that here.

However, as there are at least half a dozen people across the world 🙂 that used my original “Power Bi Content Workflow” diagram from my first post, i thought i better update it with the differences that Apps introduces. The new workflow is shown below.

A pdf version of the picture above can be downloaded here.

Advantages in this model

My favorite feature of apps is that all the content stays grouped together. When content packs were used for distribution the content would land in your personal workspace and trying to find which report went with which dashboard could be very challenging if you had a lot of content. In Apps, there are clear boundaries between them.

A link is generated when an app is published. This makes it so much easier for content authors to allow users to access procured content by a single click from an emailed link and that user now is in the app. Trying to get masses of people to go “pull” a content pack from the organizational content pack area was sometimes challenging.

The disassociation from O365 groups will keep unwanted sprawl of groups from occurring because of Power BI content. For instance i had a customer create a group workspace in Power BI for “IT”. As that generated an O365 group and therefore also created an email address of IT@companyname.com they had found that people in the organization were emailing that with IT support questions as they had found that simple email address in the directory. Not a good scenario.

Differences to consider between V1 & V2

Apps are now all inclusive of the content that ends up in the app workspace. You cannot use an app workspace as a general collaboration area for a team to then generate the production content from. Everything that ends up in that app workspace gets published with the App. So you have to be deliberate about what you put in your app workspace and therefore deliberate about what app workspaces you want to create in the first place.

Also personal versions or “copies” of dashboards and reports cannot be created from app content. So if you like to create your own personal view of the underlying data, you can no longer make a copy and “Pin” your Q&A results back to the dashboard. I think of Apps much more in that enterprise distribution of procured content that probably “shouldn’t” be modified.

Because of the disassociation of O365 groups, OneDrive for Business locations will not automatically be created with an App Workspace… so there will be an additional step to take if you like to use OneDrive for a collaboration area for your PBIX files.
Note: now that co-authors in a workspace can download the PBIX file from Power BI, having direct access to the underlying PBIX file is less critical, but still probably a good idea to not have these on your C drive.

3 thoughts on “Power BI Content Workflow – with Apps”

  1. The primary flaw with App is that anyone with a Pro license can create an app workspace and publish an app to the world. Yes, admin can disable “Publish to the entire organization” but there is nothing to stop people to use the “Everyone” group. There needs to be control in place to say whole can publish to which groups.

    A second and not as fatal flaw is that App is read-only. It is extremely unlikely and impractical to have a one size fit all App. There are always viz that one department only needs one and combine it with other metrics. Instead of fixing the flaw of no linking from workspace to published content pack, MS created another uncontrolled monster. In my experience, variations of the same reports with different slicers are extremely popular. The sad part is that MS wants to retire content pack altogether.

    1. sorry for the late reply on this. I understand your points and will not defend the decision to continue allowing every Pro user to publish content to whomever they want. I also feel like there could be more governance work done there. As far as the “read only” that is something Microsoft has said they would like to change in a future release to make it work more like content packs. As far as when that release happens is to be determined so i thought it was worthy to point out in my blog post. Please be active with these topics on the community site (community.powerbi.com) to continue the dialog.

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