This Power BI tutorial (Updated 2020) helps you learn the basics as well as advanced level concepts surrounding this tool. It enables you to gain a higher level of expertise in this domain.

So, let’s get acquainted with its working to create robust data models and generate reports. The below-mentioned ones are the topics that are discussed in this Power BI Desktop tutorial.

Now, let's start with knowing what actually is Power BI.

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a cloud-based Business Intelligence Service developed by Microsoft for non-technical business users with tools to aggregate, analyze, share, and visualize data.

What is Power BI Desktop?

Power BI Desktop is a free software application that can be installed on a local computer, and it allows the user to ingest, transform, integrate, and enrich data. Microsoft Power BI Desktop will enable you to ingest, process, combine and improve your data. It will connect all your data sources, simplifies them and share with scalable dashboards, embedded visuals, interactive reports, and others.

It also helps in connecting various data sources and combine them into a data model, build visuals, collect visuals, and share reports with other people in the organization. Most users who work on BI projects choose Power BI Desktop to create reports and to share them with others.

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Power BI Desktop Installation

Power BI Desktop consists of three basic steps to create a Report, listed as follows:

  • Importing Dataset to Models
  • Play around with Visualizations
  • Creating Reports

The more you use it, the better you’ll get at it. So, let’s get started.

Installing Power BI Desktop: Power BI Desktop can be installed using a simple process as follows:

Go to
Products >> Power BI Desktop >> Downloads page
Click on the Download Button

You can be a free user at first and later can download a paid version if you like. There is a significant difference between the access rights for the free users and paid users, which can be identified in the pricing page. The data usage capacity is the major difference between them.

Power BI Architecture - Tutorial With Diagram

Importing Datasets into Power BI Desktop

The initial thing that you should do to build a dashboard is connecting with your data sources. The steps to import the data sets are as follows:

  • Choose and Click on the Get Data button
  • Select the data sources you want to connect. You’ve got CSV, excel azure, etc. You can even scrape the data off web pages if necessary.
  • Load it into your model.
  • Click on the Get Data button

Basic Views on Power BI Desktop

When you are adding data for the first time, a blank screen will appear, and you will come across three basic views on the left of the screen.

Report View: To create the dashboard

Data View: To get your data preview and make changes if any. It is also where you can create a new calculated column.

Relationship View: You can see the relationship between objects

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Pro-Tip: The field experts always advise users to start with the data view and get a preview of what your data looks like. 

Here are a few things to take care of before creating the dashboard:

Rename columns: Let’s assume that we're building the user's dashboard.  To make it highly interactive, all the data types and naming conventions are going to appear at the surface.

Delete Columns: This contributes to the model size and takes up more system resources while processing. You can delete anything that is not necessary.

Hide Columns: It helps you to hide columns which are used later for calculations, but the user doesn't need to see them. The columns hidden will appear greyed out and won't appear in the report view.

You can directly move to the report view once you're done with all the required transformations of your Power BI Desktop.

What is Power BI Slicer? A Complete Guide

Building a Dashboard

Before moving into dashboard creation, let's discuss what is a dashboard first

What is a Dashboard?

A dashboard can be defined as a canvas to bring various visualizations or elements representing data sets together. It will provide you with the story overview, and contains all the critical aspects of the report. A report can be a single page or multiple pages long.

Let's now look into the dashboard creation in Power BI Desktop

Let's consider that we are creating a Dashboard in Power BI from scratch. For instance, let's say we are creating a Sales dashboard for different countries. To create this, we need to import customer-related sales data, products, orders, sales, and region details into the Power BI system. Using this data, we can create distinct kinds of visualizations to represent the aspects of the imported data effectively.

A workspace appears as soon as you open a Power BI Desktop. You have tabs like Home, Modeling, View, and Help on the top bar with a range of options in them. There will be two sections on the right, Fields, and Visualizations. The Fields section consists of all the fields of the imported data tables, whereas in the Visualizations, you can select a visual and edit it.

Step 1: Importing data

While creating a Power BI dashboard, the first step is importing data from the source files. Choose the Get Data option and select a data source of your choice. After selecting the data source and choose Connect. You can prepare the data that is imported in the Power Query Editor.

Step 2: Formatting

From the Data tab, you can easily access all the imported items like tables, and view them in the tabular form. On the right side, you'll find the lists of tables and fields that exist within those tables. You can choose a table or a field for performing actions like format if your data consists of fields like time, date, city, state, currency, percentage value, etc. You can even change the data type or format from the modeling tab.

Step 3: Modeling

Power BI's Engine creates the associations and relationships between the tables that you load. You can still view and make changes with the help of the Model tab provided in the data model on the left horizontal bar. 

The relationship between the two tables is indicated by the links joining two common fields.

Step 4: Creating a KPI for Total Sales

We have imported a few tables for our dashboard, customer details, product details, place details, order details, and sales details. The first visualization that we'll create is a KPI. Choose KPI from the visualizations section.

Select the fields that you want to include in the Fields section of the Visual. Even you can drag and drop the fields into their respective columns as indicated by the arrow in the following image. You can choose fields, format visuals, and apply filters from the Format icon.

Step 5: Creating a chart showing Sales

The next step is creating a Stacked bar chart that will show sales value by the product category. Add this chart from the Visualizations. Then, add fields to the chart and format the data labels, title, axes, legend, data colors, plot area, etc. 

Step 6: Creating a chart showing Sales  of various countries

Next comes creating column charts, i.e., line and clustered column charts. The following visual shows you the total sales and gross profit for various countries

(Select a Clustered Column Chart and a line from the Visualizations section.

Step 7: Creating a Chart Indicating Sales of various countries

The next step is to create an area chart which will show the total product sales over one year. We’ve created an area chart by choosing the Area chart from Visualizations and including respective fields into it.

Step 8: Creating a multi-row card

Along with visual data representation via charts and graphs, the data can be displayed in the text format using multi-row cards or cards. So, now let’s add multi-row cards from the visualizations section.

We have a multi-row card to the aspects such as product category related information, total units sold, total sales per category, and gross profit.

Step 9: Adding a Slicer for Sub-categories of products

Finally, include a Slicer for product subcategories that you have included in the record. Using Slicers, the user can select particular categories and filter through data. Upon selecting your required items in the slicer, the dashboard will only display the related visuals to the selected field or value.

Step 10: Publish the Dashboard

We are done by adding various types of graphics and visuals that we want to have on the dashboard. Since we are nearing the final step. Let’s adjust and resize the dashboard visualizations according to our requirements. You can also select themes for the dashboard, its background page size, etc.

Once the dashboard is set to be ready, you can publish it on your Power BI workspace and save it in the system. Choose to publish the dashboard on the web. Then, Login into your Power BI account and continue with publishing. After this, you will get a link to a web source where you have uploaded the dashboard.  

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What are the Uses of Power BI Desktop

With this, the creation of the Power BI Dashboard has come to an end. Now let's have a look at the uses of Power BI Desktop. People performing these tasks are considered as data analysts or BI professionals (also known as report creators). However, most people who don't consider themselves as a report creator or an analyst use Power BI Desktop for creating compelling reports, or for pulling data from distinct sources and building data models that can be shared with their coworkers and organizations.

The common uses of Power BI Desktop are the following:

1. Connect to data

To get started with the Power BI Desktop, the first step is connecting data. There are various data sources to connect to Power BI Desktop. To connect data, click on the Home ribbon, then click on the Get Data > More. The image below represents the Get Data window, showing the categories to connect with Power BI Desktop.

When you select a data type, you prompt for information such as the URL and the credentials required for the Power BI Desktop to connect with the data source on your behalf. Once you got connected to one or more data sources, you may transform the data, so it's useful to you.

2. Transforming And Cleaning Data in a Model

Using the built-in query editor, you can clean the data and even transform data in the Power BI Desktop. You can also perform operations such as changing the data type, combining data from distinct sources, removing columns, etc.

Query Editor records each step in the process such as renaming a table, transforming data type, and deleting columns. The image below will show how the Query Settings pane has been shaped and turned into a model.

3. Create Visuals

Once you get your data model, the immediate step is to drag fields onto the report canvas for creating visuals. A visual can be defined as a graphical representation of the data in your model. The visual below is a simple column chart.

There are distinct visual types to choose from in Power BI Desktop. To create a visual or to change it, select the visual icon from the Visualizations pane. If you have a visual that is selected on the report canvas, the visual you selected will change to the type of your selection. If no visual is selected, a new one is created according to your choice.

4. Create reports

You have to create the visuals more often to show various aspects of the data that you have used to create your Power BI Desktop model. The collection of visuals in a Power BI Desktop file is termed as a report. A report can consist of one or more pages like excel files and can have one or more worksheets. The image below shows you the first page of the Power BI.

5. Share Reports

Once a report is generated and ready to share with others, you can publish it to the Power BI services thus making it available to anyone in your organization, licensed with Power BI. To publish a report in the Power BI Desktop, you should select the publish button available in the Home ribbon in Power BI Desktop.

Upon completion of the report creation, once it is ready to publish, select the Publish icon. The Power BI Desktop will connect you to the Power BI service using your Power BI account, and prompts you to choose the Power BI service you want to share your report. Usually, the reports are published in the user workspace, a team member's workspace, or in some other Power BI Service location. 


Now that you’ve learned everything about the Power BI Desktop, go ahead and create a comprehensive and compelling Dashboard and visualization reports using this technology.

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