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Why writeback using Power BI + Power Apps is not for everyone

by Inforiver | Jun 25, 2022 | ,

A standard option to write back data from a Power BI report to a database is by integrating Power Apps with Power BI.

What is Power Apps?

Power Apps is a service that helps users build and use apps that connect to business data.

How does writeback happen using Power BI + Power Apps?

You can embed a Power App within your Power BI report by using the Power Apps visual in Power BI. Your Power BI report passes the data along with context to the Power Apps visual, and the underlying app writes it to a database.

Writeback using Power BI + Power Apps

A main benefit of using Power Apps is that it is a native solution offered by Microsoft.

However, using Power Apps for implementing writeback is not for everyone as it has some drawbacks and limitations.

Drawbacks & Limitations of Power Apps (for Power BI Writeback)

  1. A new skillset: PowerApps is a separate skillset from Power BI, and most Power BI developers are not PowerApps developers. If all you need is to write back data from an occasional report, learning Power Apps may not make sense. Consider the fact that you need to build an application from the scratch, define the screens, controls & workflows so that it can write back data to the database. This is a significant learning curve for a one-off requirement.
  2. Separate licensing: You need separate licensing for Power Apps. At the time of publishing this column, it can be $5/user/month for a single app, or $20/user/month for unlimited apps.
  3. 1000 Row Limitation: At the most, your power BI report can pass 1000 records to the Power Apps visual (using the “PowerBIIntegration” object).
  4. Filtering: Your Power Apps visual cannot filter data or send any data back to the report.
  5. Internal use: Power Apps is mainly intended for internal use. There are some restrictions for supporting external / guest users (e.g., channel partners or resellers).
  6. Report Server: This writeback method does not work in a Power BI report server
  7. There are other minor limitations too, some of which are listed below
    a. You need to share the Apps separately with users in addition to sharing your report
    b. There are some change management restrictions – e.g., the app needs to be edited by choosing the ‘Edit’ option in the Power Apps visual and not directly in the Power Apps portal

Click here to learn more about the limitations of PowerApps visual.

If I have the skills to develop an app AND can live with all the above limitations, will I be able to build an effective writeback solution?

It depends on the use case. If all you need is a simple update and writeback, you would be able to manage it well. But incorporating any bells and whistles to drive the best user experience would be a challenge.

Let us take sales forecasting as an example. You will still experience gaps in areas such as the following:

  • Ability to edit in a tabular interface directly (currently the Data Table control in Power Apps is read only – you need to link it to an editable form that can open up one row at a me)
  • Ability to capture forecasts with spreading & allocation methods
  • Cell-level commenting
  • Option to tag and alert users
  • … and more

Concluding Thoughts

Overall PowerApps in Power BI is a bit harder than it should be for business users, and yet too restrictive for more advanced scenarios.

This is where running Inforiver on Power BI can make a significant difference.


Inforiver for Power BI Writeback

Inforiver provides out-of-the-box, user-friendly writeback capability to Power BI users using a no-code user experience. You can:

  1. Perform unstructured writeback (you need not create database tables ahead of time in order to write back. Yes, think about the user experience this can deliver!!) from Power BI
  2. Write back to databases (such as Fabric Lakehouse/Data Warehouse, Azure SQL and Snowflake) & online folders such as OneDrive
  3. Write back specific measures (instead of writing back all the measures in the report)
  4. Perform delta vs. full writeback, so that the whole data set need not be written back each time. Only the new rows or changed rows need to be inserted/updated.
  5. Choose to write back along with (or ignoring) totals & subtotals in a table or a matrix.
  6. Write back row, cell & data level comments
  7. Write back filtered data (e.g., data for a specific sales channel in EMEA)
  8. Allow writeback based on user authorization & permissions
  9. … and more

Do you want your Power BI report to deliver user-friendly writeback? Try out Inforiver Enterprise today.

To learn more, watch our webinar on key writeback options using Microsoft Power BI.

Learn how Inforiver's writeback capability can transform your Power BI reports.

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About Inforiver!
Inforiver is the fastest way to do everything in Power BI. It enables citizen developer productivity and unleashes true self-service with our intuitive and interactive no-code data app suite for Microsoft Power BI. The product is developed by Lumel Technologies Inc, who are #1 Power BI Visuals AppSource Partner serving over 3,000+ customers worldwide with their xViz, Inforiver, and ValQ offerings.
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