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Getting Started with Power BI

  • Rafat
  • January 20, 2022

In the previous article, we understood what Microsoft Power BI Service was all about. In this article, we will understand some basics of Power BI such as how to install it, create a dashboard, etc.

How to Install Power BI Desktop?

You can install Power BI on your desktop from its website. The following is the link for it incase you’re not able to find it – https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/desktop/

Install Power BI

As soon as you click on “Download free”, It will take you to the Microsoft store from where you will be able to download Power BI effortlessly.

Can you Import Excel Database on Power BI?

Yes, it is possible to import Excel Database on Power BI Desktop. We know how MS Excel is not very useful in reading large amount of data. This is where Power BI plays its role.

power bi dashboard

It is not just MS Excel’s data which you can import on the software. You can also import data from different sources such as the SQL server or you can manually paste it on a blank table.

Usually people already have a database ready, all they want to do next is to analyze the data and present it in an effective manner for which they require Power BI. We are going to work with sample data on Excel and then import it on the software.

The following is a sample database which was created using Excel:

sample data
Sample Data on MS Excel

The following are steps to importing a data on Power BI successfully:

  • Open Power BI, Select “Import data from Excel.”
microsoft power bi service
Step One
  • Connect with the Excel Workbook.
  • Select the data you want to import from Excel. Right-click the tables you desire to load, and the select “Load.”
sample excel data

Once you have loaded the data, you can now analyze it, transform it, and visualize it as per your need and get started with Power BI.

What Is a Dashboard?

A dashboard in Power BI is a single page that uses graphics to convey a message. It consists of different kinds of models that display data graphically. Since it is simply one page and not more, it provides only the most crucial information. A dashboard’s graphics are derived from multiple reports.

What Is a Report?

A report in Microsoft Power BI service is a multi-perspective approach towards a dataset, with visualizations representing various results and insights from that dataset. A report can include a single or several visuals on multiple pages.

Some Basic Functions You Should Be Familiar With When Working With Power BI

For this tutorial, I’m going to explore the functions on an existing Power BI dashboard. (However, you need not worry about this since we will learn how to create models and a dashboard very soon in the upcoming articles!)

The following are some basic functions you should be familiar with when exploring Power BI to ease your work:

  • Renaming a Page: Scroll down to the page name and right-click it to rename it. You will be provided with two alternatives. Select Rename Page from the “Rename Page” and “Duplicate Page” options. Once you’ve selected it, rename it with anything you prefer and press enter to rename it successfully.
power bi attribution model
  • Duplicating a Page: Do the same thing here, Scroll all the way down to the page title and right-click it. Select the “Duplicate Page” option this time, and you’ll have a replicate page of the page you intended to duplicate in no time.
  • Hiding a Page: You can also hide pages from a report while creating it. If you need to build any kind of  underlying data or illustrations in a report but don’t want those pages to be exposed to others, you can prefer to hide it. In order to hide the page, right-click the page you desire to hide and select “Hide Page” and it will be hidden!
  • Deleting a Page: If you want to totally eliminate a page, right-click it and select “Delete Page.” A pop-up window will appear asking for your permission to delete it permanently; click “Delete,” and the page will be permanently removed from Power BI.

Power BI Data Sources

A wide variety of data sources are supported by Microsoft Power BI service & Desktop. When you select the “Get Data” button, it displays all of the data connections that are available.

The following are some data sources that you will find available on the software:

  • Excel Workbook
  • Power BI datasets
  • Power BI dataflows
  • SQL Server database
  • MySQL database
  • PostgreSQL database
  • Azure Analysis Services database
  • Text/CSV
  • Web
  • OData feed
  • Blank Query
  • IBM Db2 database
  • Oracle database
  • IBM Informix database (Beta)
  • IBM Netezza
  • SAP HANA database
  • Impala
  • Amazon Redshift
  • Vertica
  • Essbase
  • SharePoint Online List
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Google Analytics
  • Adobe Analytics
  • GitHub (Beta)
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator (Beta)
  • R script
  • Python script
  • ODBC
  • OLE DB
  • Hadoop File (HDFS)

Not just the data sources listed above but, many more can be accessed through Power BI.

The following data appears when you click on “Get Data” button:

Data Sources

From this, we are able to witness various categories from where one can get data from. Let us understand them better.


The following are the categories:

  • All: This section comprises of every data source (for eg, i.e., lying in between file and other) that is available on the Power BI Desktop.
  • File: The file contains of all the flat files such as Excel, Text/CSV, XML, JSON, Folder, PDF, and SharePoint Folder. All of these are supported by the software.
  • Database: The Database section lets you connect to any database, whether it’s on a SQL server, IBM Db2, Sybase, Impala, or an Oracle. Power BI Desktop has a variety of database connectors to connect to. Keep in mind, however, that you will be required to enter your server name, user name, and password in order to connect. Not only that but, You can also connect a database through a direct SQL query using the advanced option. You can learn more about it in details on javatpoint.
  • Power Platform: The Power Platform section consists of Power BI datasets and dataflows, Common Data Service (Legacy), Data verse, and Dataflows.
  • Azure: The Azure section allows you to connect with any database in the Azure Cloud. It has various data sources such as Azure SQL database, Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Azure Table Storage, Azure Cosmos DB, and more.
  • Online Services: The Online Services section allows you to connect to any online service such as Google Analytics, Facebook, Salesforce, Microsoft Exchange Online, SharePoint Online List, and more.
  • Other: The Other section comprises of various data sources such as Web, Hadoop Files, ODBC, R script, Python Script, OData Feed, SharePoint list, Spark, Hive LLAP, OLE DB, and more.