Have you ever wondered is it possible to have updates of the Power BI report to be emailed to you (or some other colleagues) on a daily basis? Power BI, fortunately, has this feature, it is called Subscription. Subscriptions are helpful ways to send an up-to-date version of the report and dashboard to the users’ email addresses on a scheduled basis. In this article and video, I’ll explain what a subscription is and how it works in Power BI.
What is a Subscription?
Power BI reports and dashboards are not static often. As the data changes, the report and dataset would also change (depending on the frequency of the refresh of the dataset). If you want to see the up-to-date version of the report, you can log in to the Power BI website and check out the report. However, You may prefer to see this update on a scheduled basis in your email inbox. For example, you may prefer to have an up-to-date version of the report emailed to you at 8:00 am in the morning. This is called a Subscription.
The ability to schedule an up-to-date version of the report or dashboard to be emailed to you or a group of users is called Subscriptions in Power BI.
It is like subscribing to a newsletter that you will receive a new copy of that every morning in your mail inbox.
How does Subscription Work in Power BI?
Creating and managing a Subscription is very simple. When you open a report in the Power BI service (or website), you will see a Subscribe option at the top of it.
The same option is available when you open a dashboard.
You can then add a new subscription;
Each subscription can have the elements below;
- Subscribers: email addresses of all of those who will receive this update in their email inboxes.
- Subject: The subject line for the subscription email.
- Optional message: A description to add to the subscription email.
- Report Page (For report subscription only): The report page that you are subscribing to it.
- Frequency/Scheduled time/Start date/End date: The schedule configuration for the subscription.
- Also include:
- Permissions to access the report in Power BI
- Link to report in Power BI
- Preview image
The above details are all easy to understand. For the Frequency, in addition to scheduled-based frequency options, you have the option to receive the subscription email whenever the dataset refresh is completed. This option only works once a day (even if the dataset refresh is set to multiple times in a day).
You can choose what to include in the subscription email. Items such as the link to the report (and also access to the report if the user doesn’t have it), and the preview image of the report;
The subscription email will be scheduled to send at the frequency you have set, and with the items, you have included in it. Below is an example of a subscription email that was set for a daily at 8:00 am.
You can see all the elements we have included in the subscription in the above screenshot, including the preview image, the link to the report in Power BI, the subject, and the optional message.
You can always edit an existing subscription by either going to that report and clicking on Subscribe;
In addition to editing, you can also manually run (Run now) the subscription for a test, or turn it off for some time, or delete it.
Each report or dashboard can have multiple subscriptions. These can be subscriptions in different frequencies, or two different groups of people, or to different report pages, etc. Just remember to set the name of the subscription to something unique, so that you can find it easier.
Another way to manage subscriptions is to go to Settings in Power BI, and then select Subscriptions;
This second method shows all your subscriptions in one place, even for different reports and dashboards.
Subscription in Apps
App users can create subscriptions for themselves only. The ability to set up a subscription for others requires Edit access to the object (With either the owner or those as members and contributors of the workspaces will have throughout the workspace);
The subscription window will have every option, except the permission to the report (as the user is not the owner), and the email address of subscribers (because the user only creates a subscription for him/herself);
Subscription in Workspaces
Workspace users can create subscriptions on the reports or dashboards in the workspace. The experience will be very similar to setting up the subscription for a report or dashboard. Depending on the access level of the workspace user, they may not be able to do some of the operations. To understand the access levels in a workspace, I strongly recommend reading my article here.
- Viewer: Can only set up a subscription for him/herself (similar to app-user subscription experience).
- Contributor: Can set up a subscription including other users as well, but cannot add permission to the report (this ability is only possible for a Member or Admin of the workspace. Unless the security setting in the workspace is set to allow contributors to update the app for this workspace)
- Member: Can set up a subscription with full options including any other users and the ability to give them permissions to the reports and dashboards.
- Admin: Can set up subscriptions, and can also change subscriptions created by other users in the workspace (check out the section below for more details)
Workspace Admin View of the Subscription
As mentioned in the previous section, the Admin of the workspace can see all the subscriptions created within the workspace for any of the reports or dashboards within that workspace. To achieve this, While you are in the workspace, you need to go to Settings, and then select Subscriptions.
As an admin, then you will see all the subscriptions created by the users of the workspace on any of the objects within that workspace, and you can either Take over that subscription or edit it.
The take-over action will change the owner of the subscription in a way that the original owner will no longer be able to edit or even view the subscription. This is an option that you might want to do only if the person who created the subscription has left the team or organization.
If the subscription owner is still on the team, and you still want to make updates to the subscriptions, you can choose to Edit instead of Taking over. This new admin’s manage subscription view is recently added to the Power BI and announced by the Power BI team a few weeks ago.
If you ever need to create a subscription in a way that each user receives a different view of the data, then that is a data-driven subscription. An example of that is to have a report page, but Peter receives a daily update of the California Branch, and Megan receives a daily update of the Las Vegas Branch.
Data-Driven subscriptions are not yet available in Power BI objects. If you want to do something like that in Power BI, one of the methods at the moment is to implement Row-Level Security in the Power BI dataset, so that the users receive the data for their own branch or department. This, of course, won’t work if you want them all to be able to see each other’s branch but still receive the daily subscription for their own branch.
Another approach is to use paginated reports with parameters and then use a service such as Power Automate to work with those parameters and send them to different people.
So short answer is that data-driven subscription is not yet available in Power BI, however, there are workarounds depending on the scenario.
Power BI subscription is a great way to receive an up-to-date copy of the report on a scheduled basis in the email inbox of the Power BI users. Each user can set a subscription for him/herself. Owners or users with Edit access on the report or dashboard can also send a subscription to other users. As a workspace admin, you can manage all the subscriptions created within one workspace.