Power BI User Access Levels: Build and Edit are different

Build and Edit are different access levels

Often I have seen Power BI users have access to the areas that they shouldn’t. In Power BI, you can share a report with a user just for view only, or give them access to view and built, or to Edit. These are all different levels of access. Build access is the one that is often is confused with Edit. In this article and video, I’ll explain the difference between these two access levels for Power BI datasets.

Build access example

One of the easiest ways to explain the difference between EDIT and BUILD access levels is through an example of building a Power BI report on top of an existing dataset. If you get data from a Power BI dataset, you are building a new report (or even a new dataset) on top of the existing dataset.

The user below when using Get data from Power BI dataset, has access to some datasets;

Get data from Power BI dataset with Build access

The user above sees all the datasets with movies in their name. The highlighted dataset, as an example, is a dataset that is shared with the user with View and BUILD access;

The user has Build access on the Power BI dataset

If we remove the build access from the user;

Removing build access from a Power BI dataset

Then the user has no access to that dataset when building report or new content.

removing the build access will remove the dataset from the list of Get data from Power BI dataset

As you can see in the above simple example, removing the Build access from the dataset means that the user has no longer access to build any new content on top of that dataset.

Are Build and Edit the same? A row-level security example

Now that you know what the Build access level is, let’s see if the Build and Edit access levels are the same? The short answer is no. They are not. Let me show that to you through a row-level security example.

The below report is a report on top of a dataset with RLS (row-level security) configuration defined:

A report on a dataset with RLS defined

If I have a user with View and Build access on a dataset, then a report that that user build is dependent on his/her access to the roles configured in the dataset level.

Row-level security configuration for the dataset

This user, if built a report on top of that dataset, will see something like this:

a limited view of the data for the user with Build access on a dataset with RLS configuration

As you can see, the user can see only part of the data that he/she is allowed to see. If this user had Edit access on that dataset, then all the data would be visible to him/her.

The difference between Build and Edit is not just on the RLS, it is also for editing the content. When a user has Edit access on a dataset, then that user can CHANGE or DELETE the content. But the user with Build and View access can only build a new content on top of that dataset, and cannot change the original.

The point above is very important, because there are different types of users for Power BI content, and you should not give someone access to something more than what they need.

How to provide Build but not the Edit access?

To give a user Edit access on a dataset, you can give them a proper level of access to the workspace as I mentioned here. There are different methods to provide Build and View access, but not Edit access. Here are some of the most common:

Manage Permissions: Add Build access

On a given dataset, you can choose the manage permissions option.

Manage permissions on Power BI dataset

In the manage permissions setting, you can either add a user with the permission of build and view or add a permission to an existing user in the list. You can remove the build permission in the same place too.

Adding or removing Build access to a Power BI dataset through manage permission

Create App with Build access

Another common way of providing a build access to a user is to enable it at the time of creating an app.

Creating a Power BI app

In the Permissions tab of the app creation wizard, you can choose if the users can have a Build permission or not.

Enabling Build permission for Power BI app users

This will create a build access in the permission of the dataset;

Build access provided through the Power BI app

Providing access through the Power BI app is my recommendation. However, The problem of giving access through the app is that you cannot give some users Build access and some not. Because you need to create two different apps for that, and you cannot create two apps at the moment for one workspace (it might change in the future). If that is the scenario you are after (giving some app users build access, and some not), then uncheck the option at the time of creating the app, and give the access through Manage permission (the first method mentioned here) directly.

Who should have build access?

Report visualizers and self-service champions are among the two categories of the users who would need the Build permission on a dataset. Developers normally have Edit access, but other users who want to build any content on top of an existing dataset would require the build access level.

License

For any BUILD operation on a Power BI dataset, users need to have a Pro license. Even a Power BI free user for a dataset that is under a premium capacity, won’t be able to build content unless have a Pro license. (any licensing options mentioned here, can change in the future)

Video

Summary

In this article and video, you learned that the Build access provided alongside View is different than the Edit access. A user with Edit access will see everything regardless of row-level security. But the Build and view access will respect the RLS configuration. The edit access also provides the ability to modify or delete a content. You learned how you can provide the Build access but not the edit access. This is an important consideration in your Power BI sharing method. If you have any questions about your scenario of sharing, please feel free to let me know in the comments below.

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Reza Rad
Trainer, Consultant, Mentor
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 nine 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: https://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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