Apps are collections of dashboards and reports that deliver key metrics to large groups of people in an organization. You can create apps for your organization, and you can connect to Power BI apps for external services such as Google Analytics and Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Business users often need multiple Power BI dashboards and reports to run their business. Apps bring the pieces together so they don't have to remember the names of all these dashboards and how to navigate to them.
With Power BI apps, now in preview, you can create collections of dashboards and reports and distribute these apps to the whole organization or to specific people or groups. For you as a report creator or admin, apps make it easier to manage permissions on collections of dashboards.
Business users install these apps from Microsoft AppSource, or you can send them a direct link. They can easily find and return to your content because it’s all in one place. They get updates automatically and you can control how frequently the data refreshes. Read more about the app experience for business users.
Apps are the evolution of organizational content packs. If you have organizational content packs already, they'll continue to work side by side with apps.
Now that you have an overview of apps, let’s talk about app workspaces, where you create apps.
As an app creator you need a Power BI Pro license. For your app users, there are two options.
App workspaces are the places where you create apps, so to create an app, you first need to create the app workspace. If you’ve ever worked in a group workspace in Power BI, then app workspaces will be familiar. They’re the evolution of group workspaces – staging areas and containers for the content in the app.
You can add colleagues to these workspaces as members or admins. All app workspace members and admins need Power BI Pro licenses. In the workspace you can all collaborate on dashboards, reports, and other articles that you plan to distribute to a wider audience, or even your entire organization.
When the content is ready, you distribute the app. You can send a direct link to that wider audience, or they can find your app from the Apps tab by going to Download and explore more apps from AppSource. Those people can’t modify the contents of the app, but they can interact with it either in the Power BI service, or one of the mobile apps -– filtering, highlighting, and sorting the data themselves.
All existing group workspaces can serve as app workspaces, and you can publish apps from any of these workspaces. Here’s one way app workspaces and group workspaces are different: You create an app workspace as a place to create and house a specific app. There’s a one-to-one relationship between the app and contents of the app workspace. Everything in the app workspace will be in the app when you distribute it.
Now that you understand apps and app workspaces, let's start creating and publishing an app.
Start by creating the workspace. Select Workspaces > Create app workspace.
This will be the place to put content that you and your colleagues collaborate on.
Give the workspace a name. If the corresponding Workspace ID isn't available, edit it to come up with a unique ID.
This will be the name of the app, too.
You have a few options to set. If you choose Public, anyone in your organization can see what’s in the workspace. Private, on the other hand, means only members of the workspace can see its contents.
You can't change the Public/Private setting after you've created the group.
You can also choose if members can edit or have view-only access.
Only add people to the app workspace so they can edit the content. If they're only going to view the content, don't add them to the workspace. You can include them when you publish the app.
Add email addresses of people you want to have access to the workspace, and select Add. You can’t add group aliases, just individuals.
Decide whether each person is a member or an admin.
Admins can edit the workspace itself, including adding other members. Members can edit the content in the workspace, unless they have view-only access. Both admins and members can publish the app.
Power BI creates the workspace and opens it. It appears in the list of workspaces you’re a member of. Because you’re an admin, you can select the ellipsis (…) to go back and make changes to it, adding new members or changing their permissions.
It’s empty, so now you add content to it. Adding content is just like adding content to your My Workspace, except the other people in the workspace can see and work on it, too. A big difference is that when you get done, you can distribute the content as an app. While in the app workspace, you can upload or connect to files, or connect to third-party services, just as you would in your own My Workspace. For example:
Connect to services such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, or Google Analytics.
Get data from files such as Excel, CSV, or Power BI Desktop (PBIX) files.
By default, Power BI creates a little colored circle for your app, with the app's initials. But maybe you want to customize it with an image. To add an image, you need an Exchange Online license.
Select Workspaces, select the ellipsis (...) next to the name of the workspace, then Members.
The Office 365 Outlook account for the workspace opens in a new browser window.
When you hover over the colored circle in the upper left, it turns into a pencil icon. Select it.
Select the pencil icon again, and find the image you want to use.
The image replaces the colored circle in the Office 365 Outlook window.
In a few minutes, it will appear in the app in Power BI, too.
When you’ve finished creating and perfecting the dashboards and reports in your app workspace, you package it all up as an app and distribute it.
In the workspace, select the Publish app button in the upper right to start the process of sharing all the content in that workspace.
First, on Details, fill in the description to help people find the app. You can set a background color to personalize it.
Next, on Content, you see the content that’s going to be published as part of the app – everything that’s in that workspace. You can also set the landing page – the dashboard or report people will see first when they go to your app. You can choose None. Then they’ll land on a list of all the content in the app.
Last, on Access, decide who has access to the app: either everyone in your organization, or specific people or email distribution lists.
When you select Finish, you see a message confirming it’s ready to publish.
In the success dialog box, you can copy the URL that’s a direct link to this app and send it to the people you’ve shared it with.
The business users that you've distributed the app to can find it in two different ways. You can send them the direct link to the app, or they can search for it in Microsoft AppSource, where they see all the apps that they can access. Either way, after that whenever they go to Apps, they’ll see this app in their list.
Read more about the app experience for business users.
After you publish your app, you may want to change or update it. You notice that when you open your app from Apps, even though you’re the one who published it, you can’t edit it – Edit Report is grayed out.
But it’s easy to update it if you’re an admin or member of the app workspace.
Open the app workspace that corresponds to the app.
Open the dashboard or the report. You see that you can make any changes you want.
Go back to the app workspace list of contents and select Update app.
Update Details, Content, and Access, if you need to, then select Update app.
The people you’ve distributed the app to automatically see the updated version of the app.
Any member of an app workspace can unpublish the app.
In an app workspace, select the ellipsis (...) in the upper-right corner > Unpublish app.
This action uninstalls the app for everyone you've distributed it to, and they no longer have access to it. It doesn't delete the app workspace or its contents.
With this release, we have renamed all group workspaces to app workspaces. You can publish an app from any of these workspaces. The functionality remains on par with group workspaces for the most part. Over the next few months, we plan on the following enhancements to app workspaces:
Apps are an evolution and simplification of content packs, with a few major differences.
In groups, you can add read-only members who can only view the content. The main problem with this approach was that you couldn't add security groups as members. With apps, you can publish a read-only version of your app workspace to large audiences, including security groups. You can stage your changes to the dashboards and reports in the app without affecting end users. We recommend that you use apps in this way in the future. Over the long run, we plan to deprecate read-only members of workspaces as well.