Workspaces is another way of sharing Power BI content with other people. The benefit of this approach of sharing is that you can share content with a group of people, and create a development environment with that which everyone has edit access to it. Workspaces are also aligned with Office 365 groups, which can be very helpful. Content will be shared with Power BI groups, and managing members are easily possible through Power BI service or Office 365 admin panel. In this post, I get you through sharing with workspaces, what the limitations and advantages are, how is it different from dashboard sharing, and you will have a full understanding at the end of this post, that which scenarios are suitable to be used with this method of sharing.
What is workspace
Workspace is a shared environment for a group of people. You can have multiple Power BI content in a workspace. One workspace can have hundreds of dashboards, reports, and datasets in it. You can add people (or Power BI account in other words) to the workspace and give them access to edit or read the content.
It is simply possible that one account is part of multiple workspaces (screenshot below), or various accounts to have access to one workspace. You can even consider workspaces as shared folders. Everyone has a workspace named “My Workspace”, this is similar to your “My Documents” folder on your machine. “My workspace” never should be used for sharing content with others except for testing, basically, because it is your personal workspace.
If you want to share content with others, your starting point can be creating another folder; which in Power BI terminology, we call it workspace. Workspaces are called “App workspace” because you can create an app based on it (you will learn about the app in future posts).
Workspaces are best to be used as a collaborative environment to share content between people of a team. Let’s now look at how we can use workspaces.
How to create workspaces?
Creating workspaces are easy. You need to do that from Power BI service. Log in to the service (http://powerbi.microsoft.com), and click on workspaces.
If you are already part of one or more workspaces, you’ll see them in the list of workspaces. Click on Create app workspace. When you create a new workspace, you need to assign a name to it. The name of workspace would be the name that others will see when joined to this workspace.
You can define the group to be private or public. The public will be available for anyone in your organization to join. Private would be for the group of people whom you add in this section or Office 365 as members of this workspace.
You can also choose to give users Edit or Read-only access. If a member is an Admin, then he/she will have edit access automatically.
After creating the group, you will see a new workspace is created. And you will be automatically navigated from “My workspace” to this new workspace. However, this workspace doesn’t have any content (dashboard, dataset, or report) in it yet.
How to add content to a workspace
At the time of writing this post, the only way to have content in a workspace is to publish it from the Power BI Desktop. Microsoft team is working on a feature to move/copy content from one workspace to another in their roadmap, but there is no timing available here that I can share now.
When you have a Power BI report opened in Power BI Desktop, you can simply click on Publish, and if you are part of a workspace, then you will see a popup window asking which workspace you want to publish the report to it. You can select “radacad sample workspace” that we’ve created above.
After publishing the content to the workspace, you and anyone else who is part of that workspace will see that content. Below is the user’s view of the workspace:
For this workspace, because I defined member’s access to Edit. They can edit the content.
Two Levels of Access
With workspaces, you can provide two levels of access (except administrator of the workspace of course); Edit, and Read-only. The access levels here is one level beyond what Dashboard sharing provides. With Dashboard sharing, you could only share read-only, but with workspaces; you can have read-only or Edit access levels.
Advantages of Workspaces
Sharing multiple Contents with Team
You may have shared a dashboard with a couple of your colleagues in your organization, after few weeks a need for new dashboard comes up, and you share that dashboard with them. A couple of months later another member of your team asks for access to a dataset in Power BI to be able to create a report and share with some others. Power BI workspaces enable you to share content (dashboard, report, and data set) with all members of a group. You don’t need to share each dashboard with each user; groups made it easy for you.
Multiple Work Spaces
It is hectic environment when you are part of multiple teams, and each team has their own set of dashboards, reports, and datasets. Your “shared with me” section in Power BI will be hundreds of items and find something there would be a problem. Power BI workspaces create a separate environment for all members of the group. You can easily switch between workspaces in Power BI.
Isolated User/Group Administration
When you share content with an individual in the organization, if that person leaves the company, or be replaced by someone else from another team, then you have to remove sharing from a previous user account and assign it to the new user account. Best practice is to share content with groups. And members of Groups then easily can be managed by an administrator. Power BI workspaces are fully synchronized with Office 365 groups. Once you used a group in Power BI, then it is only an admin’s task to add/remove members from it.
Best Developer Environment
For a team of developers, you need an environment to share multiple Power BI content. Everyone needs to have edit access to the content provided by the team. Power BI workspace is the perfect solution for the development environment. You can create a workspace as a development environment and then share it with other members of developer team with Edit access. Then you all have access to the same content in your development workspace.
Power BI workspace is the perfect solution for development environment
Disadvantages of workspace
Workspaces are useful because of reasons above. However, there are some drawbacks.
Not good for End Users
Workspaces are not good to share content with end users. You may wonder why is that? You can give users of the workspace read-only access to the content. However, this is half of the requirement. In an end-user sharing environment, one of the primary requirements is to have development and user environment separated from each other.
Assume that you have created a workspace and shared it with end users. If you suddenly make changes in the workspace while they are using it, then their view of the world breaks and changes.
With one workspace your development, and user environment are the same.
You cannot use one workspace to be shared between developers and users. Creating multiple workspaces also brings another challenge.
Overhead of Multiple workspaces
If you have multiple workspaces, then moving or copying content between workspaces is not possible (at the time of writing this blog post it is not possible, very soon it will be available). The limitation above means you must re-create your dashboards in every workspace. The overhead maintenance costs of such scenario are high.
Office 365 Synchronization
Power BI groups are fully synchronized with Office 365 groups. If you go to O365 admin panel, you will see groups that you have created in Power BI., and you can manage groups and their members in this admin panel;
This functionality is beneficial in enterprise solutions, where you share contents with a group of Power BI, and then members of the group will be managed by an Office 365 admin.
Groups also can be created from Office 365 admin panel. for example, creating a group such as below;
Will be visible in Power BI service of all members (who have Power BI subscription added to their Office 365 subscription options);
That means if you already have Office 365 groups created for your organization, then you don’t need to create Power BI groups for them again; they will be visible for users who have Power BI subscription.
Power BI Pro
At the time of writing this blog post, Creating Power BI workspaces are a Pro option and are not part of Power BI free user account.
Power BI workspaces are a great way of sharing multiple Power BI content with users. If you have hundreds of dashboards, reports, and datasets, you can easily share it through a workspace with others. Workspaces are also isolating the administration part of the work. An Office365 admin can take care of adding members to the group or removing from it because Power BI workspaces are bound to Office365 groups behind the scene.
Workspaces provide Edit access and Read-only access. Because of that, Workspaces are a great way to create a collaborative development environment. Multiple developers can have access to the same content in a workspace with edit access.
Workspaces are better to be used for a development environment, but not for the end-user environment. The main reason is that having one workspace for dev or user environment makes it hard to develop if a developer makes a change, the end user will be affected immediately. Managing multiple workspaces is not also an easy job. The discussion about workspaces brings us to the next way of sharing, which I’ll talk about it in the next post.