PBIDS – Power BI Data Sources Files

The great thing about Power BI is the monthly updates and how much Microsoft are churning out features, updates, and all sorts of cool stuff. The worst thing about Power BI, is trying to keep up with all of it. In this post I’m going to look at Power BI Data Source files. PBIDS was announced back in October 2019, I must have been busy, but I didn’t pick up on it. But the other day I was using Azure Synapse, and its integration with Power BI on a project. It download a blank connection file, and noticed it had different icon and file extension. So have to figure out what is was.

Here is the announcement from Oct 2019, for those like me that missed it.

So what is a PBIDS file? Well it creates a basic file that holds a data source connection. At the moment you can only store one connection and not multiple connections. I looked at the posting and the documentation for it, but I didn’t quite get it at first, as I could not see how to define and save the file, just bits of JSON to set a connection. But that bit of JSON is all it is. It just holds the connection settings, so it is not a full fat PBIX Power BI file. It supports the following connection types:
Azure Analysis Service
Folder
OData
SAP BW
JSON
SAP Hana
SharePoint List
SQL Server
Text file
Web
Dataflow

Here is the basic JSON for a connection to a folder:

{
“version”: “0.1”,
“connections”: [
{
“details”: {
“protocol”: “folder”,
“address”: {
"path": "C:\\Users\\jon\\Documents\\Some Folder"
}
}
}
]

That is all there is to it. Create the JSON in notepad, save it as with the extension of ‘.pbids’ and there you have it. The Power BI Tips site has a connections builder that you can use that will generate the PBIDS file for you if you want.

If you load it, it fires up Power BI, and starts the ‘Get Data’ process for you.

Power BI PBIDS file opening

So you can save a set of predefined data connections and store them in the for users to quickly get access to data. It will not support storing usernames and passwords, as that would not be secure and just give access to anyone who has the file. I the moment it is at version 0.1, so there maybe some updates coming in the future, for example adding multiple connections. But it is a nice quick way to save and store connection templates.

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