Power BI Export Limitations – Part 4/4

“I fought Power BI and Power BI won.”

In parts 1-3 of this series I reviewed the great lengths I went through to try to make Power BI do something that a user would expect in 2020 as an out of the box feature, namely export a meaningful amount of data from a visualization, into excel, with total rows intact.

I want to be clear about one thing, Power BI is a great piece of reporting software. It’s very easy to use, fast and is generally great at what it’s supposed to do. It still has a couple rough edges and I generally spend my time writing about those things, not about what makes the product great. I want to be extremely clear that I think the product is great.

The product is great but…

This is a big miss. In 2020, the hard data limits I wrote about in part 1, of 30k rows to CSV or 150k rows to XLS is simply unacceptable. These limits should be set to an order of magnitude larger in order to be more representative of real world usage. If you have less than a couple hundred thousand rows of data why would you even use Power BI?

The workarounds are too expensive or too clunky:

Paginated reports is at best a suitable workaround for dealing with large reports and at worst a clunky bolt-on of an outdated (Reporting Services I’m looking at you) product that should have been revisited wholesale.

Embedded reports are expensive to deliver and require a much broader team to deliver and have more

Don’t even get me started on unraveling data cubes, or attaching to the SQL server in order to intercept and send back data.

In conclusion

I delivered a summary of all this research to my client who was pleased at the lengths I went to in exploring workarounds. Ultimately, the client ended up deciding that they would go with an embedded solution, but that was not in this year’s budget and so it would have to wait until next year.

I did mention to them that Tableau supported this functionality, however Tableau is much more expensive than Power BI and in many cases is a worse solution.

Microsoft needs to address the community feature request that has been here for 4 years. It’s time to update the product to meet the needs of modern analysts in regards to export.

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