Governing Custom Visuals for Power BI – Prologue

In this new series, we will answer common questions that many organizations ask, as they start deploying Power BI in massive scale, and consider the adoption of the Custom Visuals:

  • What are the risks of using Custom Visuals?
  • Is it safe to allow report producers to use Custom Visuals from the marketplace?
  • Are the Custom Visuals certified by Microsoft?
  • How can we make sure that the Custom Visuals are trusted (from security/privacy/compliance and legal standpoints)?
  • Can we block all the Custom Visuals, and allow my organization to use only the specified ones we approve?
  • Can we automate the certification process for new Custom Visuals?
  • Should we maintain version control for Custom Visuals that are used in mission-critical organizational reports?

Prologue

The Custom Visuals in Power BI are considered as one of the prominent factors for awesomeness in Power BI. As a developer you can create your own Custom Visuals here, and publish them to AppSource (aka the marketplace).

Report producers can load Custom Visuals into their Power BI report from the Marketplace or a local file, and earlier this year (April, 2018), Microsoft also released the Organizational Visuals feature, which allows Power BI administrators to limit the use of Custom Visuals to an approved list of visuals, and enable report producers to load the visuals from the My Organization tab.

To find your organization’s visuals, select the highlighted ellipsis in the Visualizations panel, and select Import from marketplace.

In Power BI Visuals dialog box, select My Organization to view the organizational visuals. Of course, it only makes sense to find these visuals, if your Power BI tenant administrator blocked the Marketplace visuals.

So, how should your company decide which visuals to block or allow? Are there certified visuals? Which process should your company follow to govern these custom visuals? We will try to answer all these questions and many more, in this series.

For now, let’s start with a simple deployment scenario that your Power BI administrator can start today. The Power BI Custom Visuals in the marketplace are divided into 82 certified visuals and 78 uncertified ones. The list of certified visuals and the process by Microsoft to approve them is described here. In the next section we will describe a process to deploy Microsoft certified custom visuals as organizational visuals.

Before we do so, you may want to build a tool that will download all the certified visuals into a local storage you can control. Last year I developed this report that loads the catalog of all the Custom Visuals from AppSource, and allows you to explore the different visuals, and learn about the latest releases, and their vendors. The latest version of the report allows you slice and dice the data by certified and uncertified Custom Visuals, and run Excel macros to bulk-download all certified or uncertified Custom Visuals (.pbiviz) with their sample reports (.pbix).

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Using an automation like the macro and VBA scripts that I developed, allows you the download all the latest certified or uncertified visuals, and build automated version control and audit processes to approve which visuals should be deployed as organizational visuals.

BUlk download of Custom Visuals

If you are a Power BI tenant administrator, you can go to the Admin Portal, select Organization Visuals to add the custom visuals, as shown in this screenshot.

Unfortunately, when you select Browse, Microsoft currently only support individual import, so you can only upload one visual at a time. In my case, I already have all the custom visuals from the marketplace in my local folder, so I can select the Certified folder.

From here, I can upload the visual I wish to upload (I hope that in the future you will be able to upload multiple visuals from this user interface, and that Microsoft will also release an API to automatically deploy organizational visuals).

And here is the Organizational visuals view with AsterPlot, after I uploaded it from my local folder.

To learn more about the Custom Visuals report and bulk-download automation, go here.

 

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In the next blog posts of this series, we will explore the different aspects for governing the custom visuals. You can share your experience in governing Power BI Custom visuals in the comments below, or contact me at [email protected] to share your story.

2 comments

  1. Eitan Reply

    Hi Gil,
    There is a very troubling massage at each custom visual saying:
    When this add-in is used , it
    Can read and make changes to your document
    Can send data over the internet

    it will be great if you can address this in your review.

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