This is part 1 of the Getting Started with Power BI series.

Power BI is a powerful reporting and dashboarding tool; in which, organizations of all sizes can leverage to tell their data story. This series walks through the creation of building out a social media dashboard.


With the advent of SQL Server 2016 and updates to Reporting Services, the most interesting and exciting changes to Business Intelligence is Power BI. In this series of articles, I will show how quick and easy getting started can be, pulling and preparing Facebook data, how easy creating graphs and charts are, and setting up the interactions within the report.

What is Power BI

Power BI is part of Microsoft’s Business Intelligence (BI) suite, where it’s an interactive data visualization tool with cloud-based hosting capabilities. The report developer can create interactive dashboards and reports which can then be stored in the cloud, allowing users to view and interact with dashboards to monitor and analyze data with on the fly filtering and drill-down capabilities.
Power BI also has the capability of integrating with other Microsoft products like SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), Excel, and other Office 365 products. The report developer can utilize already existing Excel and SSRS reports by bringing in snapshots of PivotTables, Charts and cell ranges. Then you’re able to upload and pin the items onto a dashboard.

Getting Setup

For developing, the two options are:

For this tutorial, I will be using the Power BI Desktop to develop. You will also want to sign up for the web version (Service). There is a free version that currently allows up to 1GB of data to be stored. There are also mobile versions if you plan on presenting it in various forms. The mobile version is very similar to the Service, but the interactions and dashboard styles may vary from one platform to another.

Mobile versions can be found here:

The Desktop is very useful in creating the reports and publishing them up to the Service. From there you can link and share dashboards with your team.

For part 2, we will dive into pulling and manipulating data. Read Part 2.