By: Ben Richardson Last updated: January 21st, 2022
News & tips
This article is for Power BI beginners looking to learn how to create their first Power BI dashboard.
By the end of this article, we will have covered:
A dashboard is a single page designed to visually display a combination of data visuals that give someone a clear understanding of the underlying data very quickly.
A well-designed dashboard should require little or no explanation and uses visualisations (for example, a pie chart, bar chart, or Gantt chart) from the report to tell a compelling story.
For non-technical people who have heard of ‘big data’ using a power bi dashboard to view data is their first experience of business intelligence. The ability to quickly turn unintelligible database data into actionable information is the key benefit of training to use Power BI. If you would like an introduction to Power BI our see: What Is Power BI?
A dashboard in Microsoft Power BI is a single page in Power BI service (often called a canvas) created from a report page. The report is usually published to Power BI service from Power BI desktop.
Power BI dashboards are generally limited to a single page. As they are only a single page, this means that your dashboard cannot contain all of your data and graphs. You have to be selective and only include the most critical visuals.
It is possible to create dashboards that contain more than one page. These are known as multi-page dashboards to distinguish them from a standard one-page dashboard.
The visualisations on the dashboard above are called tiles and are pinned to a dashboard from the report published to Power BI Service from the Power BI desktop.
In most scenarios, clicking a tile in the dashboard within the Power BI service interface takes you to the report page where the visualisations were created.
A report page is a blank reporting canvas at heart. It is similar to an Excel workbook with multiple tabs.
Reports give dynamic insights into your data with the help of visualisations.
For more detail on reports, please see this article.
You can create a dashboard in either Power BI Desktop or Power BI Service.
However, as dashboards are a feature of Power BI service, not Power BI desktop, you can only share a dashboard in Power BI service.
You can also view and share dashboards in Power BI mobile apps, but you can’t create them.
The graphic below gives a quick overview of the difference between Power BI service and Power BI desktop. If you want more details on the differences, see this article on the difference between Power BI desktop and services.
Reports and dashboards are dependent on each other but quite different.
It is important to understand the differences between them.
Below are the key differences:
Let’s look at how you publish a report from Power BI desktop to Power BI service.
We will start with the sample report on the Master Data report page, as shown below.
Select a Report page, go to the Home tab.
Click on Publish
Input your Sign in Identification to sign in to your Power BI account.
After you’ve successfully signed in to your Power BI account, it will show you the list of all workspaces in your Power BI service that you might want to publish your report to.
Select a destination or workspace for your dashboard.
You will receive a Success! Message when it’s done.
Now that your report is in the right place in Power BI services, it’s time to create a dashboard.
There are two ways you can assemble or create a Power BI dashboard.
Method 1: Pin individual visuals called tiles to a new or existing dashboard.
Method 2: Pin the entire report as a page to a dashboard.
On a report page in the Power BI service, hover over an individual visual (for example, a Q&A visual), and a pushpin icon will appear. If you click the pin, it will pin the visual to an existing or a new dashboard.
You will receive a message telling you, “The visualisation has been pinned to your dashboard” from there, you have an option to go directly to your dashboard with a single click of the mouse.
Live report pages are an excellent option for creating a dashboard when you want to pin an entire report page as a single visual and retain all the interaction and filtering functionality.
To pin live pages from the report view or page, you need to click on the “Pin a live page” button.
This button will launch the same dialogue box you saw when trying to pin individual tiles.
Multi-page dashboards are unavoidable if you have a large number of reports pages or tiles you want to include in your dashboard.
You can create a navigation button (which is way beyond the scope of this article) in Power BI to easily transition between each dashboard. See tip 6 in this article for more details.
The dashboard interface provides different options to the toolbar menu.
The toolbar provides options to add new tiles, add a new comment, create email subscriptions, and set the dashboard as featured.
Ask a Question allows you to type in a sentence using natural language to query the underlying data and create new visuals based on what you type.
Mobile layout view allows you to design your reports to be viewed by mobile users.
The right way to do this is to use the mobile layout view in the Power BI service and specifically add in a range of different visuals from your dashboard or report.
Dashboards are a great way to allow people across your business to access actionable information.
Learning how to create them is a great first step to rolling them out, and being able to describe how to can be very useful in Power BI related job interviews.
Once you have created them Power BI’s new capabilities like the smart narrative visual, allow you to create executive summaries very quickly.