Sharing Power BI Reports with Secure Embed code

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I have written previously about all methods of sharing in Power BI, and their pros and cons. however, recently, a new method of sharing added to the Power BI service, called Share through Secure Embed Code. This method of sharing is as simple as Publish to Web to implement, but it doesn’t have the security issues of that method. Through this method, you can publish Power BI reports through a custom web portal or application, securely, with other users. Let’s check this method of sharing in this article in details. If you like to learn more about Power BI, read Power BI book from Rookie to Rock Star.

If you are interested to learn more about other methods of sharing, read my articles about sharing in Power BI here:

Why a New Method of Sharing?

To understand why there is a new method of sharing is available, you need some background information about two other methods of sharing; Publish to Web, and Power BI Embedded. Briefly speaking; Publish to Web is a method of sharing, which can be implemented very simply, with just few a clicks, but has security issues and some limitations around that. Power BI Embedded is a secure method of sharing, which needs a developer touch and writing code lines to implement. The new method of sharing combines these two to achieve something secure, but simple to share! Let’s check the pros and cons of each method first;

Publish to Web

Pros

  • Can be embedded in any webpage easily with just a few clicks of creating the embed code

Cons

  • What you share is for everyone. No Security applied
  • All report pages are visible
  • Users can share it with others
  • Row-Level Security is not supported

Publish to Web is a very quick way of sharing, but not good for confidential data, because it cannot be secured. Users won’t even need Power BI accounts to access the content. they will be able to see the content and even share it with others. Everyone with that link will have access to the data. To read more about this method of sharing, read my article about Publish to Web.

Power BI Embedded

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Pros

  • Sharing Power BI content securely with users
  • Users won’t need to have Power BI accounts. It can work on Embedded licensing
  • Row-Level security is supported

Cons

  • Implementation of Embedded needs a web developer. because coding is involved in this method

Power BI Embedded is a secure method of sharing that works perfectly for confidential data and also when you have row-level security implemented. You can even share it with users that don’t have Power BI accounts, using embedded licensing. However, the disadvantage of this method is the need for a web developer to take care of every change needed. To read more about Power BI Embedded in details, read my article here.

Secure Embed; Good things from Both Worlds!

Now that you know advantages and disadvantages of the previous two methods, you can feel the need for a method that can simplify the process of Power BI Embedded, and on the other hand is secure enough to be used for confidential data. That method is called Secure Embed. Using this method of sharing; the process of creating the embed code is as simple as doing it for the Publish to Web method. However, this method is secure, as users need to be authorized for this method. They either need to have Power BI pro accounts or to be part of an Embedded licensing and authorized by the person sharing the report. So with this method, you have good things from both worlds! with Secure Embed, you can simply share Power BI content in a web portal or application, securely, with the users. Let’s see how this method works.

Using Secure Embed

To use the Secure Embed method, go to a report in Power BI service (website). From File menu, select Embed.

Secure Embed only works for Reports in Power BI service, not for Dashboards.

As I mentioned, this method makes the process of creating the embed code very simple! with Just a click on Embed option in the screenshot above, you will get the embed code and the URL to share the reports in any platform you want.

There are two outputs from the Secure embed code; the URL and the HTML embed code. The URL can be used for direct sharing the reports with just a link. You can share the link with users you want. The HTML code can be used to embed this report in any webpages or custom web portals.

Who Can View the Report?

You’ve seen that sharing through this method is simple, but now the question is that who can view the report? is it available for everyone with the URL link, or access to the page with embed code? No. This method of sharing is not the same as Publish to Web, Users need to either have a Power BI pro account or report to be shared with them through embedded licensing. If you send the URL to someone, and it is not configured under an embedded capacity, then they would get a message that says: Please sign in to view this report.

Reports shared through Secure Embed, works with Power BI pro accounts of the users (users need to log in), or with adding the report under embedded capacity.

This is not the whole story, if a user logs in, still might not be authorized to see the report. Because the report is not shared with them (this is for the scenario of not using embedded capacity). If a users log in through a Power BI pro account but still don’t have access to the report, they will see a message that says; To view this report, ask the author for access.

If users accessing the report through Secure Embed using their Power BI pro accounts (not under embedded capacity), the report should be shared with them from the report owner.

To share reports, there are multiple ways, the most simple way of sharing the report, is basic sharing. To use that, Click on the share button on the report in the Power BI service.

After sharing the report, then users would be able to access it using the Secure Embed. Here is a screenshot of how it would look like;

Users will have access to all pages. At the time of writing this article, isolating access at the page level is not possible. So access to the report means access to all pages in the report. this applies on all methods of sharing in Power BI.

Licensing Needs

This method of sharing is not a free method of sharing. You will need to follow the licensing in one of these two paths;

  • Using Power BI Pro
  • Using Power BI Embedded capacity

For using Power BI Pro, users need to have pro accounts, and then you can simply share the report with them, as mentioned in the above illustrations and steps. Another option is to use Embedded capacity. Power BI Embedded has buckets of page renders and depends on which bucket fits your requirements, you can choose one of those, and then put the report under that capacity. To learn more about Power BI embedded pricing plans, read here.

Advantages of the Secure Embed

After seeing how it works, you can now name some of the advantages yourself. Here is the list of advantages of the Secure Embed method.

Sharing with Only a Few Clicks. No Developer Needed

As you have seen in this post, I haven’t written a single line of code, it is just working with using the Secure Embed option easily. All you need to do is to use the URL output of the Secure Embed or embed the HTML code somewhere on a webpage you want. This method, unlike Power BI Embedded (which needs a developer touch), is very simple to implement.

Secure Sharing

Looking at the title of this method of sharing, “Secure Embed”, you probably guessed it. You have also seen in this post, through an example, how the content is secured for only those users who are authorized to see the content. This method, unlike Publish to Web, is a secure method of sharing.

Row-Level Security is Supported

Publish to Web method doesn’t support row-level security because there is no concept of the user logged in, because no login required. However, using Secure Embed only authorized users will have access to the report, and as a result, row-level security is possible.

Limitations

Some Limitations of Power BI Embedded about the content to be shared applies. For example, ArcGIS Maps is not currently supported.

Secure Embed, at the moment, doesn’t support dashboards or paginated reports.

Scenarios of Using this Method

This method is a quick way of sharing through an HTML embed code. If you are using SharePoint Online, there is a quick method to use for that (read more about it here), but what about other web applications? Let’s say, what about SharePoint on-premises? or another web application that you want to embed the Power BI content in there? This method can be a great option to share quickly through a web page, securely.

Summary

Secure Embed is neither Publish to Web Nor Power BI Embedded. It is getting good things from both worlds! Using the Secure Embed, you can share your reports through a web portal with just a few clicks. However, unlike Publish to Web, the Secure Embed is a secure method of sharing, that only authorized users will have access to the data. As a result, this method also supports row-level security enabled reports.

Your turn now, write in below comments about scenarios that you would like to use this method, and how it helps in your Power BI solution implementation. 

This method has its own pros and cons as mentioned in this article. If you are interested to learn about other methods of sharing, read my other articles on Power BI sharing strategies and methods here:

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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.

10 thoughts on “Sharing Power BI Reports with Secure Embed code

  • We have Power BI Premium license in our O365 tenant. We have added all workspaces to a capacity in Premium setup. We have added specific (non-pro) user accounts to a workspace and dataset row level security role. When the Pro user creates and publishes a report and then uses the Embed Securely feature the link does NOT work for non-pro users. They receive the “To view this report, ask the author for access” error message. If we share the same report with one of the users, they are able to open the report from the provided link, though it opens in their Power BI service. If the user logs into powerbi.com and tries to open the report from the workspace, they receive the access error message again. I have spent the day searching for anything on this and your blog was the only one where the same error message was coming up. Any insight into what might be occurring here? We really want to avoid having our users access the reports through the Power BI web service, can’t share/subscribe all 3k users to each report when we make them…

    • Hi Louis
      Have you tried to embed it in a page and see what is the result? I don’t think they will be redirected to the Power BI service then
      Cheers
      Reza

  • Hi Reza,
    Thank you for such an Informative article,
    I have created dashboard top of ERP, which has MariaDB as a database,
    which I have connected successfully through Amazon RDS and working fine.

    I want to integrate this dashboard in ERP as a module/doctype which can be accessed by ERP users having individual login credentials (Not having PowerBI Subscription),

    what kind of licensing /set up I would require to make this happen
    so that dashboard can be accessed by all users on a real-time basis with refreshed data from ERP

    • Hi Alad
      If your ERP system users are using O365 logins, then best way to extend their licenses to something that have Power BI in it and share it through that.
      If their ERP accounts are not O365, then you can use Power BI Embedded or Secure Embed as mentioned here. You have to buy an embedded licensing EM sku or A sku, which is capacity based and has a limitation based on the page render capacity.

      Cheers
      Reza

  • Hi Reza,

    the following requirement roughly:
    On the basis of SharePoint Online, a portal is to be created in which Power BI evaluations are to be integrated. (including RLS)
    + External users should access it.

    Is this possible for external users to access it with this method? What about licenses and permissions?

    Thanks in advance!

    Denis

    • Hi Denis.
      External users can access Power BI report using Apps or even workspaces, or even normal sharing. However, when you embed the report in SharePoint online, then part of the access is handled through SharePoint. For that part, you should ask a SharePoint expert to see if external users can access to those pages or not. from the Power BI side; it is possible.
      Cheers
      Reza

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