What is a dashboard?

A Power BI dashboard is a single page, often called a canvas, that uses visualizations to tell a story. Because it is limited to one page, a well-designed dashboard contains only the most-important elements of that story.

The visualizations you see on the dashboard are called tiles and are pinned to the dashboard from reports. If you're new to Power BI, you can get a good foundation by reading Power BI basic concepts.

Note:

Dashboards are a feature of Power BI service and are not available in Power BI Desktop. Dashboards can't be created on mobile devices but they can be viewed and shared.

The visualizations on a dashboard come from reports and each report is based on one dataset. In fact, one way to think of a dashboard is as an entryway into the underlying reports and datasets. Selecting a visualization takes you to the report (and dataset) that was used to create it.

Advantages of dashboards

Dashboards are a wonderful way to monitor your business, to look for answers, and to see all of your most-important metrics at a glance. The visualizations on a dashboard may come from one underlying dataset or many, and from one underlying report or many. A dashboard combines on-premises and cloud-born data, providing a consolidated view regardless of where the data lives.

A dashboard isn't just a pretty picture; it's highly interactive and highly customizable and the tiles update as the underlying data changes.

Dashboards versus reports

Reports are often confused with dashboards since they too are canvases filled with visualizations. But there are some major differences.

Capability Dashboards Reports
Pages One page One or more pages
Data sources One or more reports and one or more datasets per dashboard A single dataset per report
Available in Power BI Desktop No Yes, can create and view reports in Desktop
Pinning Can pin existing visualizations (tiles) only from current dashboard to your other dashboards Can pin visualizations (as tiles) to any of your dashboards. Can pin entire report pages to any of your dashboards.
Subscribe Can't subscribe to a dashboard Can subscribe to report pages
Filtering Can't filter or slice Many different ways to filter, highlight, and slice
Set alerts Can create alerts to email you when certain conditions are met No
Feature Can set one dashboard as your "featured" dashboard Cannot create a featured report
Natural language queries Available from dashboard Not available from reports
Can change visualization type No. In fact, if a report owner changes the visualization type in the report, the pinned visualization on the dashboard does not update Yes
Can see underlying dataset tables and fields No. Can export data but can't see tables and fields in the dashboard itself. Yes. Can see dataset tables and fields and values.
Can create visualizations Limited to adding widgets to dashboard using "Add tile" Can create many different types of visuals, add custom visuals, edit visuals and more with Editing permissions
Customization Can do things with the visualizations (tiles) like move and arrange, resize, add links, rename, delete, and display full screen. But the data and visualizations themselves are read-only. In Reading view you can publish, embed, filter,export, download as .pbix, view related content, generate QR codes, analyze in Excel, and more. In Editing view you can do everything mentioned so far and so much more.

Dashboard creators and dashboard consumers

Depending on your role, you may be someone who creates dashboards for your own use or to share with colleagues. You want to learn how to create and share dashboards. Or, you may be someone who receives dashboards from others. You want to learn how to understand and interact with the dashboard.

Here are some topics, by role, to help you get started.

Power BI Pro is required for both sharing a dashboard and viewing a shared dashboard.

If you will be creating and sharing dashboards

If you will be receiving and consuming dashboards

  • Get comfortable with dashboards by taking a tour of one of our sample dashboards.
  • Learn about dashboard tiles and what will happen when you select one.
  • Don't like the look of a dashboard? You can resize, move, and rename the tiles.
  • Want to track an individual dashboard tile and receive an email when it reaches a certain threshold? Create alerts on tiles.
  • Have fun asking your dashboard questions. Learn how to use Power BI Q&A to ask a question about your data and get the answer in the form of a visualization.
Tip:

If you didn’t find what you’re looking for here, use the Table of Contents to the left.

Next steps

Get Started with Power BI
Power BI - Basic Concepts
Power BI Premium - what is it?

More questions? Try asking the Power BI Community