Workspace V2 of Power BI: What Are Advantages Vs Old Version?

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Workspace version 2 has been available in Power BI Service for more than 6 months now. The new version introduced in August 2018, however, still many people don’t know what it is, and what is the difference of that with the old version, and the most important question: Should you create the new workspace in V2 or V1? Should you click on the Try Now button when you create the new workspace or not? I have previously written about workspaces and their important role in creating a collaborative environment. In this post, I’ll answer all questions above to help you make the right decision when creating the workspace. If you like to learn more about Power BI, read Power BI book from Rookie to Rock Star.

How to Create the New Workspace

The new workspace can be created inside the Power BI service. when you click on Workspaces, then click on Create App Workspace.

After clicking on the Create app workspace, in the create a workspace section, you’ll see the option to “Try now” which is the way to create workspace version 2.

The screenshot below illustrates what is the UI for creating the new (V2) workspace;

What is Different in Workspace Version 2?

Ease of Use

Workspace version 2 made some functions easier to apply in the Power BI service. As an example, you can set the workspace image directly in the Power BI service. With the old version, you couldn’t do that. With the old version, one of the ways to set an image for the workspace was to go to the Office portal and change the image of the office 365 group.

Decoupled from Office 365

It also helps in decoupling the Office 365 groups and Power BI workspaces. In the old version of workspaces, with the creation of workspace, an office 365 group was created also. those two were coupled to each other. In the app workspace Version 2, however, the creation of app workspace can be separate.

Assign AD Groups to Workspace Roles

In the older version of workspace, you could only assign users individually as the admin of the group. In the workspace version 2, now you can have an AD group assigned as a role membership in the workspace.

New Roles

The most important part of the app workspace version, in my opinion,n is the new roles. This feature by itself is the game-changing part of this version. With the old workspace, we had only two roles; Admin and Member. Admin has full rights on the workspace, and Member has either Edit or Read-Only access, depends on which option selected at the workspace level. You Could NOT have some users with read-only rights, and some with Edit rights in the same workspace, unless you mark those you wanted to have Edit rights as Admin, which is even higher level access. The old version of workspace had some limitations and challenges with the access roles as you can see.

The new version of workspace comes with a new access role setup as below;

Contributor: Create, edit, publish, delete content in the workspace. cannot modify members, or cannot publish an app.

Member: Publish and update an App. Share or allow others to reshare items. Add members or others with lower permissions. plus everything contributors can do.

Administrator: Delete and update the workspace. Add and Remove members (or even other admins). plus everything members can do.

This new access level is far more powerful than the old version. Here is an example of it;

Old workspace: There is a group of developers, and all of them has Edit access on the workspace. With the edit access in the old version of workspace, they can also publish and update the app. Now, while those developers are testing some new reports, and while users are using the app version of the workspace, if a developer suddenly by mistake click on update app, users will be impacted immediately! In the old version of workspace, a user who can publish and add content can also publish or update the app. There was no role for someone to take care of updating app only.

New workspace: There is a group of developers and all of them have Contributor role. they can publish their content, test it in the workspace, they can update and change the content as they want. However, they cannot publish or update the app. For publishing or updating app, they have to ask a Member role to do that. This way, the environment setup is much more reliable than what you have read in the previous paragraph with the old version of the workspace.

Where is the read-only access in the new workspace V2?

The question that some of you might have now is that, where is the read-only access level that was there in V1 of the workspace? The short answer is; that role does not exist. The long answer is: there is a better way to do that for sure. If you have read my explanation about the isolation of DEV and USER environment with the combination of workspace and App, you know that for read-only users, the best way to share is the APP, which is created on top of the workspace. Users of the app will have read-only access to the content shared with them. This is the read-only access you’ve been looking for. Read-only access is available through the app, for app users. Not through the workspace, Workspace meant to be used for developers only.

However, considering all explanation above, still, some people might prefer to give read-only access to a few users in the DEV environment. The good news is that there will be a read-only role coming for the workspace version 2, called Viewer role to cover that.

Control on creating the workspace through Admin Portal

Another benefit of workspace version 2 is that you can control the creation of workspace to be done only by a specific group of people (otherwise you may end up with hundreds of workspaces!). This can be done through Admin Portal, in the Tenant Settings configuration;

Some New Features are available only through workspace V2

Some of the features that are relatively new, such as Dataflow in Power BI, are available with more features when created under workspace version 2. You can create a dataflow even in a workspace version 1, however, if you create it under workspace version 2, you will get more features for it. here is a comparison;

Creating Dataflow in an app workspace version 1 (old version)

Creating Dataflow in an app workspace version 2 (new version)

Limitations of Workspace

A workspace can have only maximum of 1,000 datasets or 1,000 reports per dataset. One person with a Power BI pro account can be a member of maximum 250 workspaces.

reference: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/service-new-workspaces#planned-new-workspace-preview-features

Decision Point? New or Old Workspace?

Now that we come to the decision point, you can see many great features of the workspace version 2, It is obvious that version 2 is the choice to make. If you are creating any new workspace, I recommend you to create version 2 (as mentioned above at the beginning of this post). With workspace version 2, you get new access roles, access to the many features such as dataflows linked entities, and other benefits that you have learned through this blog post.

Migration from Workspace version 1 to version 2

The workspace version 2, will ultimately take the place of version 1. Similar to the way that Power BI App took the place of old Content Pack. Version 2 of the workspace is not generally available yet (at the time of writing this article). Right now, there is no way to migrate from version 1 to version 2. However, Microsoft plan is, after GA, at some point to make the migration process available.

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Reza Rad
Reza Rad is a Microsoft Regional Director, an Author, Trainer, Speaker and Consultant. He has a BSc in Computer engineering; he has more than 20 years’ experience in data analysis, BI, databases, programming, and development mostly on Microsoft technologies. He is a Microsoft Data Platform MVP for eight continuous years (from 2011 till now) for his dedication in Microsoft BI. Reza is an active blogger and co-founder of RADACAD. Reza is also co-founder and co-organizer of Difinity conference in New Zealand.
His articles on different aspects of technologies, especially on MS BI, can be found on his blog: http://www.radacad.com/blog.
He wrote some books on MS SQL BI and also is writing some others, He was also an active member on online technical forums such as MSDN and Experts-Exchange, and was a moderator of MSDN SQL Server forums, and is an MCP, MCSE, and MCITP of BI. He is the leader of the New Zealand Business Intelligence users group. He is also the author of very popular book Power BI from Rookie to Rock Star, which is free with more than 1700 pages of content and the Power BI Pro Architecture published by Apress.
He is an International Speaker in Microsoft Ignite, Microsoft Business Applications Summit, Data Insight Summit, PASS Summit, SQL Saturday and SQL user groups. And He is a Microsoft Certified Trainer.
Reza’s passion is to help you find the best data solution, he is Data enthusiast.

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