Power BI Content Packs and Workspaces

 Recently I was talking with a client who had questions regarding how to integrate Power BI Organizational Content Packs and Workspaces. Working on the principal that he was not alone in wondering about how these Power BI features worked together, I provided that information here, along with some links which you may find useful.

Organizational Content Packs in Power BI

Content Packs were released this summer for Power BI, and if you are thinking about using them, remember that you will be needing a pro license for every user who needs to access them. If you are interested iPowerBiCreatingContentPacksn providing users with the ability to access the data and provide a read only dashboard, containing data and pre-built links to access it, Content Packs can provide that capability. Consuming the provided data source available in a content pack does not allow users to modify anything about the data source, such as the refresh schedule or id used to access the data. Any user can create a content pack and publish it to the entire organization or to a list of emails, both of which can be somewhat unwieldy. A better way to distribute content packs would be to expose them via workgroups.

Workspaces in Power BI

I do talk about workspaces in a previous post, but I wanted to include a shortened version here. If you do not have an Office 365 Exchange client, you will not be able to create workspaces, also known as distribution groups, as these are created as part of outlook and used by Power BI, but are not a native Power BI feature. If you have groups of users such as a group of people working on reports or a team of people who are looking at the same data, for example the accounting department, HR, and Operations all may want to look at different kinds of data, so it might make sense to create Workspace for each of them and store the specific reports for each group in the Workspace.

Releasing Read Only Dashboards and Data Security

When releasing a dashboard via a content pack, people who have been granted access to the content pack are able to view a read only copy of the dashboard. If they wish to modify the dashboard, they will have to make a copy of it, then modify the copied version. Everyone who looks at the dashboard, since they are using the data connection in the content pack, will have the ability to look at all of the data in that connection. If instead you want to use a security model created for each user or group of users which have been created at the source, the data source must be an on-site SSAS tabular model. Only by using a SSAS tabular model can you provide different data access to people viewing a dashboard with content packs.(Update: Power BI Enterprise Gateway will use local security. For more information see this link.)  Only the person who created the content pack can delete the content pack. No other person can delete it, but they can break the content pack by removing or altering the data connection the content pack uses. If the person who created the content pack doesn’t work at your company anymore, it is possible to have orphaned content packs that no one can delete. I hope at some point this is fixed as I think an administrator or someone else should be able to delete the content pack, but Power BI does not work that way now.

If you have any other questions regarding these features or what I’ve posted here, please feel free to respond to this blog as I would be happy to hear from you.


Yours Always

Ginger Grant

Data aficionado et SQL Raconteur


5 comments on “Power BI Content Packs and Workspaces

  1. AM

    I want to start learning Power BI. Could you please guide how one can start learning? My company does not use Power BI.


    1. Ginger Grant

      Good for you on trying to take initiatives to learn Power BI. After you’ve created your account on PowerBI.com, click on the question mark in the top right hand corner of the site, and select the Getting Started option from the menu. This will send you to the Power BI site where you can walk through some of the basics for getting started. Another good resource can be found on the Power BI Desktop application. When you download Power BI desktop, the application includes some videos on the start up screen to show some instruction on how to start using Power BI.

      Thanks for reaching out on my blog and I hope you enjoy learning more about Power BI.



  2. AM

    I really appreciate the quick reply. Thanks for letting me know. Your blog has been of great help to me and i am pretty sure to the whole community as well. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to learning more BI.


  3. Alberto Temporal

    Dear Ginger,

    Thank very very much for sharing.

    I always enjoy your post.

    Thank you

  4. Donna

    Ginger, thank you for the rundown on the issues regarding the security model and the dependency upon using a tabular instance to get that functionality. That would have me tripped me up.

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