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Trying to understand Power BI so I can help a colleague



I'd be very gratful for any general comments/help with a scario I'm trying to assist with. I have good (old) working knowledge of access and a good understanding of 'IT'. I have a colleague that is runnning power BI and in order for me to help, I need to update my information.

The user is running Power BI on 365 online given Mac usage and the situation is as follows:

1. Power query is used on a separate desktop PC (it's not available on a Mac)

2. Power Automate is used to update the reporting when new entries are made in the database using the 365 online license

3. There are some challenges around particular field issues e.g. two key (mandatory) fields (date and location) are required each time an entry is made to the db, however it is desireable for the previous entry to be retained to facilitate more rapid data entry when multiple entries are to be submitted with no change in this information


I'd really love to understand the following:

1. Do you need Power Query to do reporting with Power BI? How does Power Query actually help in this scenario given the desktop PC is not always on? Is the query somehow uplodaed to the online instance?

2. Why would Power Automate need to update the reporting - is this not possible to build into the Power BI instance?

3. Any thoughts on how to retain data for key fields to facilitate multiple data entries?


Or any other general information/direction to helpful materials?


Thanks very much.


Super User
Super User

@Chef40 Power Query is the data ingest and transformation engine for Power BI. So, you use Power Query to connect to source systems, transform the data if necessary and import the data into the model. You then generally need to create relationships between tables if you have multiple tables in Power BI Desktop.


You do not need Power Automate to update the report. In fact, that's a bit of an odd way of doing it. Generally you just schedule a refresh in the Power BI Service once the data model is published.


Not sure what you mean by 3 but if you are talking about reporting on historical values. That is done via Goals.


Would need to better understand how you are licensing Power BI to know what your options are.

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Thank you very much for your help. I think I need to play with this to actually understand what is going on. My understanding of what they're doing is using Power Query to develop the basis for the reporting but I don't understand why this can't just be done in Power BI. It doesn't make sense to me that that aspect of it would be done 'offline' (on a desktop PC) when the reports are avalable online in the 365 live environment.

Also thanks - I don't understand why Power Automate is necessary in principle but I really need them to map me a workflow if I'm to see where it fits.


The final point - I'm sorry, I haven't explained very well. It's nothing to do with reporting, it's data entry. When the user uses the online interface, a new entry is made by completing a number of fields, two of which are key (mandatory) fields. I think it was something like date and location. Because there could be any number of entries for the same date and location, it would be advantageous if the previously enetred information was retained once the 'submit' button was pressed for an entry to save repitition. Currently, all fields are reset for the next entry once one has been submitted.


Thank you very much!

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