An abbreviated look at Power BI Document Generation Solutions – Power BI Helper

In the first blog of this series, An abbreviated look at Power BI Document Generation Solutions – Model Documenter we explored the document generation features of Data-Marc’s Power BI Model Documenter. The other noteworthy contender in this arena is RADACAD’s Power BI Model Documenter, within the Power BI Helper suite (Download).

Power BI Helper is a virtual Swiss Army knife when it comes to its collective Power BI capabilities.

Amongst the features Power BI Helper offers are:

  1. Performance tuning
  2. Model, visualisation and Power Query metadata documentation
  3. Power BI Service integration
  4. Power BI file comparison
  5. Power BI files and model cleansing.

In this blog we will focus solely on Power BI Helper’s Model Analysis and document generation features. After Power BI Helper has been downloaded and installed, it can be launched by selecting the Power BI Helper link via the Power BI inbuilt External Tools menu item in Power BI Desktop.

screen grab of the menu from Power BI Helper

 

This opens the Power BI Helper Model Analysis Tab where a connection to a Power BI file can be initiated. It will default to the current model, if launched from an existing PBI solution.

screen grab of the model analysis menu from Power BI Helper showing connections

 

Power BI Helper then automatically populates the Table, Column and Measures widgets with the solution metadata. The Model Analysis tab with data from Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence Sample.pbix sample is shown in the screenshot below.

screen grab of AI tab in Power BI Helper

 

Clicking any item in the top-level data grid widgets will drill into its underlying detail in the Expression and Dependency widgets below it. Note that this filtered perspective of the model is not reflected in the solution document generated output – selected from the Export to Document button in the upper right-hand corner.

screen grab showing export options from power BI helper

 

The documentation tab enables configuration of the styling and formatting options (left-hand pane), as well as the specific content areas to be included in the documentation (right-hand pane).

screen grab of documentation tab in power BI helper

 

Clicking the Create Power BI file’s document button presents you with a Save As modal screen where you can assign the path and name for the generated document. Note that only .htm file types are output.

screen grab of grey save as menu in power BI helper

 

Document generation may take time depending on the selected Options but will usually result in the successful export screenshot below.

document success screen with green bar from power BI helper

Output

The generated .htm file provides basic tabular representations like the selected Options.

These comprise:

  1. List of Pages
  2. Visuals
  3. List of Bookmarks
  4. List of all Columns/Fields/Measures/Expressions Used in Visuals
  5. List of Tables Used in Visuals
  6. List of Columns Not Used in Visuals
  7. Model
  8. List of Tables
  9. List of Measures
  10. List of Columns for Table
  11. List of Roles
  12. Relationships
  13. M (Power Query) Script
  14. Partitions

Below screenshots of the related tables available in the document generation Options screen. Similar tabular representations of the other tables are also available when selected.

List of pages

a table of pages available in power bi helper

 

 

 

List of Table for Visuals

a table showing the tables available in power bi helper

 

 

 

 

 

List of columns for calendar table

list of columns in the calendar table for pbi helper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Similar tabular representations of the other select Options are also detailed in the document .

If any post processing is required then the generated htm tabular data can be loaded into Excel using Power Query via the Data->From Web or Get Data -> From File -> From XML menu options.

Conclusion

In summary Power BI Helper provides several handy options to document a Power BI solution. Both a Power BI Desktop or Power BI service context can be used to document, validate, conform, and potentially version control the Power BI solution. Note that documentation is only one aspect of this multi-purpose tool whose other features deserve further examination. Overall, Power BI Helper is a valuable addition to your toolbox.