Introduction to Power BI Desktop

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Power BI Desktop is a free tool that used to create visualization, reports and dashboards for publishing it to Power BI service. Power BI desktop organizes, streamlines and centralizes all data to build meaningful visualizations. 

Power BI desktop lets us connect to multiple data sources and shaping the data to create reports and visualizations. Power BI desktop has powerful query and data models for shaping the data. When reports are created they can be uploaded into power BI service and then shared with collaborators for viewing and editing.

Related Article: Power BI Visualization Types

Power BI Desktop saves file with .pbix extension. These file types can be shared like other file type, but the best way is to upload them into Power BI service portal.

Enthusiastic about exploring the skill set of Power BI? Then, have a look at the Power BI Training Course together additional knowledge. 

Installing and Running Power BI Desktop

Power BI desktop runs in Windows version 7 and higher or Windows Server 2008R2 and higher. Minimum system requirements followed as

  • NET 4.5
  • Internet Explorer 9 or later
  • Memory (RAM): At least 1 GB available, 1.5 GB or more recommended.
  • Display: At least 1440x900 or 1600x900 (16:9) recommended.
  • 1GHz CPU x86 or x64 bit or faster

Power BI is available as a MSI package and runs as a windows application.

Power BI Views

There are three views in Power BI Desktop.

  1. Report View: here we build visualizations using queries and drag and drop methods. These visualizations can be arranged with multiple pages and shared with ithers.
  2. Data View: Here we can see the data in our report as a model format and add measures, create new columns and manage relationships.
  3. Relationship View: Here we can get a graphical representation of the relationships between data model and manage or modify them.

Additionally Power BI Desktop has a powerful query editor for writing queries for transforming the data and the transformed data can be load into Power BI.

                                  Power Bi Views

Getting Started

After installing power BI we can connect to data sources and establish a connection by selecting the Home ribbon, then Get Data > More.

After connecting and retrieving the data, we can reshape it to meet our requirements. This can include reaming the rows and column. Removing unnecessary rows and selecting headers. The query editor has powerful features to select from reshaping the data. 

When we edit or shape the data the original data never changes. We only reshape the particular view or columns. Each time we perform changes in query editor it keeps a record and each time it performs the step to shape the data.

                               Power BI Query Settings

Combine the data

Power BI desktop has a feature to combine two or more data sources to build report. 

There are two primary ways of combining queries – merging and appending.

When we have one or more columns that we would like to add to another query, we merge the queries. When we have, additional rows of data that we would like to add to an existing query, we append the query.

Build Reports

In power BI desktop report view we can create reports.

The Report view has five main areas:

  1. The ribbon, which displays common tasks associated with reports and visualizations
  2. The Report view, or canvas, where visualizations are created and arranged
  3. The Pages tab area along the bottom, which lets you select or add a report page
  4. The Visualizations pane, where you can change visualizations, customize colors or axes, apply filters, drag fields, and more.
  5. The Fields pane, where query elements and filters can be dragged onto the Report view, or dragged to the Filters area of the Visualizations pane.

    We can use the visualization panel to select visualizations and drag them to canvas to build reports.


After readying our reports we are ready to publish it and share it with others. we can share it with others on the Power BI service. There are a few ways to share your work in Power BI Desktop. You can publish to the Power BI service, you can upload the .pbix file directly from the Power BI service, or you can save the .pbix file and send it like any other file.

Related Article: Power BI Services And Benefits

Connecting to a data sources in power BI

Data Sources In Power BI


  • Excel
  • Text/CSV
  • XML
  • JSON
  • Folder
  • SharePoint Folder


  • SQL Server Database
  • Access Database
  • SQL Server Analysis Services Database
  • Oracle Database
  • IBM DB2 Database
  • IBM Informix database (Beta)
  • IBM Netezza (Beta)
  • MySQL Database
  • PostgreSQL Database
  • Sybase Database
  • Teradata Database
  • SAP HANA Database
  • SAP Business Warehouse server
  • Amazon Redshift
  • Impala
  • Google BigQuery (Beta)
  • Snowflake


  • Azure SQL Database
  • Azure SQL Data Warehouse
  • Azure Analysis Services database (Beta)
  • Azure Blob Storage
  • Azure Table Storage
  • Azure Cosmos DB (Beta)
  • Azure Data Lake Store
  • Azure HDInsight (HDFS)
  • Azure HDInsight Spark (Beta)

Online Services:

  • Power BI service
  • SharePoint Online List
  • Microsoft Exchange Online
  • Dynamics 365 (online)
  • Dynamics 365 for Financials (Beta)
  • Common Data Service (Beta)
  • Microsoft Azure Consumption Insights (Beta)
  • Visual Studio Team Services (Beta)
  • Salesforce Objects
  • Salesforce Reports
  • Google Analytics
  • appFigures (Beta)
  • comScore Digital Analytix (Beta)
  • Dynamics 365 for Customer Insights (Beta)
  • Facebook
  • GitHub (Beta)
  • Kusto (Beta)
  • MailChimp (Beta)
  • Mixpanel (Beta)
  • Planview Enterprise (Beta)
  • Projectplace (Beta)
  • QuickBooks Online (Beta)
  • Smartsheet
  • SparkPost (Beta)
  • SQL Sentry (Beta)
  • Stripe (Beta)
  • SweetIQ (Beta)
  • Troux (Beta)
  • Twilio (Beta)
  • tyGraph (Beta)
  • Webtrends (Beta)
  • Zendesk (Beta)


  • Vertica (Beta)
  • Web
  • SharePoint List
  • OData Feed
  • Active Directory
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Hadoop File (HDFS)
  • Spark (Beta)
  • R Script
  • ODBC
  • OLE DB
  • Blank Query

Formula categories of Query Editor in Power BI Desktop


  • Constants
  • Information
  • Conversion and formatting
  • Format
  • Rounding
  • Operations
  • Random
  • Trigonometry
  • Bytes


  • Information
  • Text comparisons
  • Extraction
  • Modification
  • Membership
  • Transformations


  • Information
  • Transformations
  • Selection
  • Serialization


  • Information
  • Selection
  • Transformation
  • Membership
  • Set operations
  • Ordering
  • Averages
  • Addition
  • Numerics
  • Generators


  • Table construction
  • Conversions
  • Information
  • Row operations
  • Column operations
  • Membership

  Arithmetic operations 
  Parameter Types 
  Accessing data 
  Binary formats

  • Reading numbers


Frequently asked Power BI Interview Questions & Answers

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About The Author

As a Senior Writer for Mindmajix, Saikumar has a great understanding of today’s data-driven environment, which includes key aspects such as Business Intelligence and data management. He manages the task of creating great content in the areas of Programming, Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, Oracle BI, Cognos, and Alteryx. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter. Protection Status