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PowerBI-visuals is open for contributions

Headshot of article author Lukasz Pawlowski

Do you want to ship your innovation and code as part of a new Microsoft product? Then read on!

A few weeks ago, we open sourced the visuals we ship in Power BI placing them on GitHub. The repo, Microsoft/PowerBI-visuals, gives you everything you need to build high quality visuals for Power BI.  You’ll be able to use visuals you build to extend Power BI (more on that below).  The repo is pretty amazing since it’s our production code and you can see exactly what goes into making a Power BI visual, including the test framework, and unit tests.

Yesterday we published contribution guidelines for the repo.  We’re looking forward to the great contributions you will make. We’ve already received and accepted several contributions! Thank you! If you missed it, Power BI includes a GitHub content pack (signin required) so you can keep track of the repo like we are. Below I’ve included some of the insights as of this morning; you’ll see: who our newest committers are, the 5 top contributors by issues closed, top 5 contributors by pull requests, and the trend of distinct committers.

pbi viz newest committers pbi viz top issue filers
pbi viz top contributor by pull request pbi viz distinct committers

As you can see from above, there are a ton of ways you can contribute to the repo. You can file issues to let us know about issues you find in the code, submit pull requests for bug fixes, submit entire visuals for inclusion in the library, or tweak documentation in the Wiki.  Before you decide to do anything super crazy or time consuming please do read through the contribution guidelines since there are some limits to the kinds of contributions we can accept into the main repo. For larger work, we ask you to fork the repo (you’d be joining 47 others!) and submit a pull request from your repo. What you contribute is up to you, all contributions are welcome!

The first time you contribute, you’ll get an email like the one below.  This asks you to sign a Contribution License Agreement.  Since we’re using this code in our production products, we need to ensure that any code contributed is legally safe for us to distribute, hence the agreement.  One thing we would remind you is to check if your employer has any rules related to open source contributions before accepting the CLA and contributing.

From: Microsoft Contribution License Agreements <>

Hi <your handle>, I’m your friendly neighborhood Microsoft Pull Request Bot (You can call me MSBOT). Thanks for your contribution! In order for us to evaluate and accept your PR, we ask that you sign a contribution license agreement. It’s all electronic and will take just minutes. I promise there’s no faxing.


There are a couple of common questions we hear from the community and I wanted to take a moment to provide some insight into them.

How can I extend Power BI with visuals I write?

There are two paths you can take, both are compelling in their own right.  Firstly, you can build a visual that will become part of the core Power BI experience available to everyone who uses Power BI.  You can do this today!  Build a visual and submit a pull request to the Microsoft/PowerBI-visuals repo. If you plan to do this, first submit an issue that specs out what you want to build so we can work with you to ensure it’s something we could ship in Power BI. Then open source your visual under the MIT license and submit a pull request!

Secondly, you can build a visual that only you (and your organization) can use.  Stay tuned on this one.  We’re working to enable you to do this but it’s not yet available.  You won’t need to open source your visuals if you follow this path.  You can get started building your visual now using the documentation and code from the Microsoft/PowerBI-visuals repo. So you can start now knowing that soon you’ll be able to use your custom visual in Power BI.

To extend Power BI, must I open source the visuals I write?

Nope. You can fork the main repo and build your custom visuals as you see fit and distribute the code you write under the license you desire.  The code you take from the main repo needs to stay licensed under the MIT license, but the code you write is yours. Of course you’ll want to know how you can use that code in Power BI… but that’s the previous question .  Here’s the thing though: If you decide to contribute to the main repo, you’re publishing your code for the world to see and we could pick up the code and ship it within Power BI.  It’s a great way to go if you’d like to ensure future versions of Power BI fix a bug you are hitting or there’s a feature you’d like reflected for all users.

We’re incredibly excited to have the Microsoft/PowerBI-visuals project open for contributions.  Looking forward to the amazing contributions the community will make and to seeing the custom visuals you’ll build!  By the way, we’re suckers for videos showing the custom visuals you’re building. So if you’d like us to ooh and ahh about your work, leave a comment with a link to an online video showing off what you made.