Power BI Publish to Web – Questions Answered

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You’ve learned about three different ways of sharing content in Power BI so far. All of the methods that we talked about before (Dashboard Sharing, Workspaces, and Power BI Apps) need paid power bi subscriptions for consuming reports. Users need to be either Power BI Pro or free accounts under Power BI premium capacity. Publish to Web is another way of sharing Power BI content which is free. Yes, you read that right, with this method you can share Power BI content with users who even don’t have a Power BI account.

Publish to the web is an easy way of sharing for public data. However, it has some disadvantages as well. In this post, you will learn about this feature more in details, and you will learn this feature is, and how it is a difference with Power BI Embedded. It will be a very long post if you want to learn about both Power BI Embedded and Publish to the web and compare them here. So in this post, I’ll explain Publish to Web, and in next posts, you’ll learn about Power BI embedded, and their differences. In this post, you will learn how easy is to share your report with the public through a web page which can be your blog post, and HTML page, or any other web pages. Some questions also about this feature answered through the content of this post. If you like to learn more about Power BI; read Power BI online book; from Rookie to Rock Star.

What is Publish to Web?

Once you published your Power BI report into Power BI Service (or website), then you can share it with others through creating a dashboard, or workspaces in Power BI. What if you want to share it with the public through the web? Let’s say you want everyone to see the report and play with it (with all interactive features that you have in Power BI). The answer is; use Publish to Web. Publish to web allows you to create an embedded code for Power BI report, and use that code in a web page. This simple feature will enable everyone to access the report. They won’t be able to edit the report, but they will see the report, and the report will be fully interactive for them so they can highlight items, select slicers, and drill down.

How to Do It?

Using this feature is very simple. All you need to do is first deploy or publish the report into Power BI website or service. And there click on the report (not dashboard). Once you opened the report, click on File menu option and choose to Publish to Web.

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Then you will be informed about this feature in a message box that mentions this step will create a link and embed code for you to share with the world through a website or even email. Click on Create embed code below.

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Because this is all about sharing a report and apparently the data in the report, you will be informed again to check confidentiality of the data and report and make sure you are sharing the content that is not harmful for an organization or someone when it is viewable for the public.

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After clicking on Publish above, you will see the embed code plus a link to share through email if you want. You can also choose the size of the screen for the embed code.

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You can browse the link right now to see the report in browser

For browsing the report, you don’t need to login to Power BI service. In fact, people for viewing this report won’t need anything. As you see in the screenshot, the report is fully interactive, and users can highlight, select or deselect items.

You can also use the embed code and add it to your HTML page, or blog post or wherever you want them to see the report. Here is I embedded my code;

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and after adding the embed code full interactive report will be visible in my page like this:

Security Thoughts?

What You Share is for Everyone!

The first thing you might think is usually security. How can you manage security on this? The short answer is there is no security here. The report is shared through the web, or email, with EVERYONE. So everyone who has the link or embeds code can access the report. They cannot edit it. But the can view it with no restriction.

All Report Pages Are Visible

If you have a report with 10+ pages, all of them would be visible to browsers. You can not limit which pages you want to show and which you don’t. as an example the report you see above has more than one page, and you can view all of them. I recommend creating different reports if you want to restrict some pages, and share them separately.

Users can share it with others!

A report that is published to the web has a share section at the right-bottom hand-side. Everyone can share this report with anyone else through all social media channels; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, sharing the link directly! This method of sharing is not secure. I do only recommend using this method of sharing the data that you want to publish a public report on your company or organization website.

All Report Pages Are Visible

If you have a report with 10+ pages, all of them would be visible to browsers. You can not limit which pages you want to show and which you don’t. As an example, the report you see above has more than one page, and you can view all of them. I recommend creating different reports if you want to restrict some pages and share them separately.

Publish to Web is only recommended for public data sharing in your organization website with the public. There is no security option for Publish to Web; this method should not be used for reports of the confidential data of businesses.

Link or Embed code is Synchronized with the Report

If you make any changes to the report, all changes will be synchronized, because of link or embed code are just references to this report. So People will always see the latest version of your report. If you also want to keep the report up-to-date, you can schedule it for data refresh.

Removing the Access is Easy!

If for some reasons, you want to revoke the access for everyone to the report you can do it easily. Just go to power bi website or service, and under Setting, click on Manage Embed Codes

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Here you will see the embed code created, and you can delete it.

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Please note that once you delete the embed code, no-one would be able to access this report from public web. You will see a notification message about it.

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If you go ahead and delete the embed code, the link and the embed code will show a message to public web users that this content is not available.

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Central Monitoring for all Embed Codes

Publish to web seems a frustrating option with all explanation so far. There is a need for an administration page to manage all embed codes there across the Power BI tenant. Power BI team recently added this feature to the admin portal of Power BI. Here is the place that you can find all reports that are published to the web, and you can remove those from being published to the web.

To go to the admin portal, click on the setting icon in Power BI service, and then go to Admin Portal

Click on Embed Codes in the left-hand-side, and you will see all embed codes published by anyone from your organization (to access to the admin portal, you need to be Power BI administrator, you will learn about that in another post).

For each report which is published to the web, there are two options: to view the published report, or to delete it. Once you delete it, no one will be able to use the published to web’s link.

Difference with Other Sharing Methods?

If you played with Power BI before, you know that you can share your dashboards with people in your organization. This feature is different from embed code. Here are some differences between sharing dashboard and embed code;

  • You Share a Dashboard, not a Report
  • Only those who have access to the dashboard will see the content
  • Dashboard link which is shared with the public won’t show anything if they are not authorized to see it.
  • Power BI Workspace or App is For Authorized Group of Users inside or outside of Your Organization, not for everyone!
  • Power BI Embedded is different from Publish to Web

You Share a Dashboard not a Report

If you click on the ellipsis button beside a dashboard, you can share it with others in your organizations with their Power BI accounts.

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Only those who has access to the dashboard will see the content

Once you share a report, you can choose who has access to see it based on their Power BI accounts. You can give them Edit access if you want as well.

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Dashboard link Works Only for Authorized Users

Despite of having the dashboard link available in the Access tab of sharing pane; Only authorized users can see the content when browsing the link. Otherwise, they will see a message that says they don’t have permission to view this dashboard.

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Power BI Workspace or App is For Authorized Group of Users inside or outside of Your Organization, not for everyone!

You can share dashboards, reports, and data sets with a workspace which is an Office 365 group in your organization. And users of this group will have access to all content shared by the group. Also, you can use Power BI apps to share content within your organization or even outside of your organization with Azure B2B services. However, with Publish to Web, any users who have access to the page will see the report, regardless of having Power BI account or not.

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Public Access or Organizational Sharing

Last but not least; the difference between Publish to web, and Sharing is all about the difference between giving public access or sharing content through the organization.

With Sharing dashboards or using Power BI workspaces and apps, you can share content with other users. These users SHOULD BE Power BI users; they cannot access content anonymously. They need to log in to Power BI service to access the content.

With Publish to Web EVERYONE access the report even if they don’t have Power BI account. They don’t need to log in. They can browse the page that contains Power BI embed code with no restriction on viewing the report.

Power BI Embedded is Different from Publish to Web

Now that you know about Publish to web, I can explain how Power BI embedded works in a nutshell. Power BI Embedded brings Power BI into applications. Yes, you can share your Power BI report through an application with API Keys. And you share the report with application users, even if they don’t have Power BI accounts. However, you are much more flexible here. You can choose which reports you want to share with which users in the application. Power BI Embedded is the way to bring Power BI experience into an application with security configuration enabled for users. I will explain in a separate post how to use Power BI Embedded. Stay tuned.

Publish to Web is not secure, free way of sharing, and is for the public. Power BI embedded is secure, paid service, and for specific people that you authorize them.

Summary

In summary, Publish to the web is the only free way of sharing Power BI content. This method of sharing doesn’t have any security bound to it. As soon as you publish a report to the web, anyone with that link will be able to access the report and the data. This method of sharing is easy, however, is not recommended for confidential data. This method is an only good option if you want to share some public reports on your company public website.

Publish to the web is entirely different from Power BI Embedded, these two methods should not be considered the same. In the next few posts, I’ll explain what Power BI embedded is and how it is working.Save

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Reza Rad
Reza Rad is an Author, Trainer, Speaker and DW/BI Consultant. He has a BSc in Computer engineering; he has more than 15 years’ experience in databases, programming and development mostly on Microsoft technologies. He is a Microsoft MVP in Data Platform for seven continues years (from 2011 till now) for his dedication in Microsoft BI. He is author of some SQL Server and BI books, and also Power BI online book; from Rookie to Rock Star.

20 Comments

    • my screenshot is old. that time there was no such thing. there is no option to disable that. you can disable the whole Publish to Web feature in Admin tenant settings if you want.
      Cheers
      Reza

  • Hey Reza!
    I have not been able to find a specific answer to my questions anywhere, so I thought I would try here 🙂 Everything I google leads to official microsoft pages with no real answer.

    When publishing to web, how do outside people see the report?
    I don’t mean people in other organizations, but simply random internet users.
    I understand that you need to share the link or use the embed code, but how do outside people see it then? It should be public to everyone, right?

    Do they HAVE to have the link sent to them, or can they access it publically on a site somewhere, regardless of who I send the link to?

    I have not been able to find any other person’s public report online, so it is confusing that they say it’s public and not secure.

    Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Troels,
      others need to have the link to the page that this Power BI report is embedded to it. without the link they cannot open it. but if they have the link, then they can share it with others too. and everyone who has the link can see the content. There is no other websites that has list of all Power BI contents published to web in it as a directory.
      Cheers
      Reza

  • Hi Reza. Thanks for the explanation. Question: When publishing a report to the Web. Is it correct that only those you send the link to can view/use the report?. Is the only security issue in publishing your report to the Web that those who receive your web link re-share the report?. So if I only send the link to one person and ask for their confidence in using the report and not sharing the link, it should be a secure way to share with someone outside an organization.
    Many thanks

    John

    • Hi John,
      Correct. If you really confident that the audience is not sharing the link, then you can go ahead with that. I usually don’t risk it myself however 😉
      Cheers
      Reza

  • Hi Reza.
    Would you be able to tell me if it is possible to hide the entire bottom bar including Power BI logo?
    Thanks
    Omar

    • Hi Omar,
      I’ve heard that this is possible. However, I don’t know how, it should be possible with JavaScript code. However, I still don’t recommend it, because It won’t stop people from right click on the page and view source and then share the code and report obviously with others
      Cheers
      Reza

  • Hi Reza, is it correct that this option to Publish to Web has been removed from March 2018 Update? Also can you clarify which and if any paid license is needed to view a report when published to Sharepoint Online?? And is there any different in publishing to SPO and to Sharepoint on-prem ??

    • Hi Jaroslav
      Publish to Web is still available. I don’t think it be removed any time soon as far as I know.
      For embedding in SharePoint Online you need to follow Power BI Pro or Premium licensing. means you can only share with people who has Pro licenses, or they have free account which is part of a premium capacity.
      The difference with SharePoint on-prem is that there is no functionality to embed in sharePoint on-prem like online. means you have to use Power BI Embedded, which comes on a totally different licensing patterns.

      Cheers
      Reza

  • Thanks! So there is no way besides exorbitantly expensive “Power BI Embedded” to show a Power BI report to a particular Azure AD B2B user that is logged into my page? Either I have an open report that anybody can access or I have to pay for “Embedded” or the user must be a registered Pro user? Can you confirm, or is there a way to simply “pay as I go” and let my Azure AD B2B users access data (in blobs for example) via a Power BI report that I set up. Thanks for any tips (… using .NET-Core MVC6 in Azure)

    • Hi Richard
      There are two ways to leverage Power BI Embedded; With a token (which required embedded licensing), and without a token (which required users to have Power BI pro accounts). you can use any of these.
      Cheers
      Reza

  • HI,
    How can we Identifying reports published to web,, how can we Monitoring reports published to web and what are Inventory of Reports in Power BI.

    Thanks
    Shiva

    • You can get the list of all reports published to web in your account, settings, manage embed codes
      also, a Power BI administrator can find all reports published of the tenant, under Admin Panel, Embed Codes.

      Cheers
      Reza

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