While the official announcement has not been released, on November 24th the Power BI feature to Download report became available. It is now possible to download Power BI Reports from the Power BI Service. To access the feature, click on the dropdown file menu of a report, and there you will see the option to download a report. If your report was not created recently, this feature may not be enabled. If the report was created November 24th or later, the download menu item should be enabled. After the download option is selected, a message pops up letting you know the report is being downloaded. The message is accurate as it took a good three plus minutes for the report to be downloaded.
There are a couple of points worth mentioning regarding the downloading feature. Downloading is for reports, not dashboards or datasets. **UPDATE: on 11-29 Microsoft released the information about the download feature. It can be turned off if on the Admin Portal exporting data is turned off. Unfortunately there isn’t a way to just turn off downloading the reports, as that one option controls both downloading reports and data.
Apparently Also the ability to download cannot be turned off, meaning anyone who has edit rights can download the report. After the report was added, I looked on the administration screen to see if there is a way that this feature can be turned off. No option exists to prevent this.
Impact of Report Downloading on Templates and Content Packs
Power BI’s report download feature has the ability to modify the development process in Power BI as it is now possible to not use Power BI Desktop, while still providing the ability to create report versioning. Unfortunately, a report created on the service, cannot be downloaded as only reports which originated as desktop files can be downloaded. This is a problem as these files cannot be sent to SharePoint Online to provide versioning and one has to hope no one broke a report created on the service as there is no method to rollback changes because no file exists. This limits the use of Organizational Content Packs. A Content Pack is designed to be a starting point for report development as it contains everything needed to create a report, including a connection to a dataset, plus dashboards and perhaps a report or two to serve as a style guide. Content Packs are accessed by the arrow at the bottom of the Power BI Menu or by selecting Get Data, then selecting My organization to use content packs created for local data access.
Now that anyone can use a report which has been uploaded to the service as a starting point for a new report, there may be a decreased use of the template feature. Any report created on the desktop can be saved as a template, by selecting save on a desktop report file and changing the file type to a template. Unfortunately, templates do not contain links to the datasource used. The person creating the report must determine what data to use and if there was a dataset presently used which is refreshing the data, or create a dataset and it’s respective refresh features as part of creating a report. Content packs provide the connections to datasets, but since the reports cannot be saved as a file for versioning, this feature is not often used instead of templates. Downloading the file and then modifying it is does resolve the issue as the starting point is then a working report with a connection to an existing dataset.
Personally I have been waiting for Microsoft to release the download feature for a long time and am very happy to be able to use it. I hope that an some point the download feature will be expanded to reports created on the service as this feature will improve the report creation process.
Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur