Tutorial: Explore the Power BI Report Server web portal in a VM

In this tutorial, you create an Azure virtual machine with Power BI Report Server already installed, so you can experience viewing, editing, and managing sample Power BI and paginated reports, and KPIs.

Report Server web portal

Here are the tasks you'll do in this tutorial:

  • Create and connect to a VM
  • Start and explore the Power BI Report Server web portal
  • Tag a favorite item
  • View and edit a Power BI report
  • View, manage, and edit a paginated report
  • View an Excel workbook in Excel Online

For this tutorial, you need an Azure subscription. If you don’t have one, create a free account before you begin.

Create a Power BI Report Server VM

Luckily, the Power BI team has created a VM that comes with Power BI Report Server already installed.

  1. In the Azure Marketplace, select Power BI Report Server. This link opens it directly: Power BI Report Server.

  2. Select Get it now.

  3. To agree to the provider's terms of use and privacy policy, select Continue.

  4. Select Create.

    Create Power BI Report Server VM

  5. In Step 1 Basics, for VM Name, call it reportservervm.

    The Power BI Report Server VM name can't contain dashes.

  6. Create a user name and password.

  7. For Resource group, select Create new, and call it reportserverresourcegroup > OK.

    If you go through the tutorial more than once, you need to give the resource group a different name after the first time. You can't use the same resource group name twice in one subscription.

    Name the VM and resource group

  8. Keep the other defaults > OK.

  9. In Step 2 Settings, keep the defaults > OK.

    The SQL Storage account and Diagnostics Storage account values must also be unique. If you go through the tutorial more than once, you need to give them different names.

  10. In Step 3 Summary, review your selections > OK.

  11. In Step 4 Buy, review the Terms of user and privacy policy > Create.

    The Submitting deployment for Power BI Report Server process may take several minutes.

Connect to your virtual machine

  1. In the Azure nav pane, select Virtual machines.

  2. In the Filter by name box, type "report".

  3. Select the VM named REPORTSERVERVM.

    View the virtual machine

  4. Under REPORTSERVERVM Virtual machine, select Connect.

    Connect to the virtual machine

  5. In the Connect to virtual machine pane, keep the defaults and select Download RDP File.

  6. In the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box, select Connect.

  7. Enter the name and password you created for the VM > OK.

  8. The next dialog box says The identity of the remote computer cannot be identified. Select Yes.

    Voila, your new VM opens.

Power BI Report Server on the VM

When your VM opens, here are the items you see on the desktop.

Power BI Report Server virtual machine starts

Number What it is
Number 1 Sample Power BI (.PBIX) reports
Number 2 Links to Power BI Report Server documentation
Number 3 Starts Power BI Desktop for Power BI Report Server (January 2021)
Number 4 Opens Power BI Report Server web portal in the browser
Number 5 Starts SQL Server Data Tools, for creating paginated (.RDL) reports

Double-click the Report Server Web Portal icon. The browser opens https://localhost/reports/browse. In the web portal, you see various files grouped by type.

Power BI Report Server web portal

Number What it is
Number 1 KPIs created in the web portal
Number 2 Power BI (.PBIX) reports
Number 3 Mobile reports created in SQL Server Mobile Report Publisher
Number 4 Paginated reports created in Report Builder or SQL Server Data Tools
Number 5 Excel workbooks
Number 6 Data sources for paginated reports

Tag your favorites

You can tag the reports and KPIs that you want to be favorites. They're easier to find because they're all gathered in a single Favorites folder, both in the web portal and in the Power BI mobile apps.

  1. Select the ellipsis () in the upper-right corner of the Profit Margin KPI > Add to Favorites.

    Add to Favorites

  2. Select Favorites on the web portal ribbon to see it along with your other favorites on the Favorites page in the web portal.

    View Favorites

  3. Select Browse to go back to the web portal.

View items in List view

By default, the web portal displays its contents in Tile view.

You can switch to List view, where it's easy to move or delete multiple items at a time.

  1. Select Tiles > List.

    Switch views

  2. Go back to Tiles view: Select List > Tiles.

Power BI reports

You can view and interact with Power BI reports in the web portal, and start Power BI Desktop right from the web portal.

View Power BI reports

  1. In the web portal under Power BI reports, select Sample Customer Overview Report. The report opens in the browser.

  2. Select the United States block in the tree map to see how it highlights related values in the other visuals.

    Power BI report highlighted

Edit in Power BI Desktop

  1. Select Edit in Power BI Desktop.

  2. Select Allow to allow this web site to open a program on your computer.

    The report opens in Power BI Desktop. Note the name in the top bar, "Power BI Desktop (January 2021)". That's the version optimized for Power BI Report Server.

    Use the version of Power BI Desktop that's installed on the VM. You can't go across domains to upload a report.

  3. In the Fields pane, expand the Customers table and drag the Occupation field to Report level filters.

    Drag a field to the Filters pane

  4. Save the report.

  5. Go back to the report in the browser and select the browser Refresh icon.

    Browser Refresh icon

  6. Expand the Filters pane on the right to see the Occupation filter you added. Select Professional.

    Filtered Power BI report

  7. Select Browse to go back to the web portal.

Paginated (.RDL) reports

You can view and manage paginated reports, and launch Report Builder, from the web portal.

Manage a paginated report

  1. In the web portal under Paginated reports, select More options (...) next to Sales Order > Manage.

  2. Select Parameters, change the default value for SalesOrderNumber to SO50689 > Apply.

    Set report parameters

  3. Select Browse to go back to the web portal.

View a paginated report

  1. Select Sales Order in the web portal.

  2. You see it opened to the Order parameter you set, SO50689.

    Paginated report parameter

    You can change that parameter here, along with the other parameters, without changing the defaults.

  3. Select Order SO48339 > View Report.

  4. You see that this is page 1 of 2. Select the right arrow to see the second page. The table continues on that page.

    Paginated report page 2 of 2

  5. Select Browse to go back to the web portal.

Edit a paginated report

You can edit paginated reports in Report Builder, and you can start Report Builder right from the browser.

  1. In the web portal, select More options (...) next to Sales Order > Edit in Report Builder.

  2. Select Allow to allow this web site to open a program on your computer.

  3. The Sales Order report opens in Design View in Report Builder.

    Design view, paginated report

  4. Select Run to preview the report.

    Preview a paginated report

  5. Close Report Builder and go back to the browser.

View Excel workbooks

You can view and interact with Excel workbooks in Excel Online in Power BI Report Server.

  1. Select the Excel workbook Office Liquidation Sale.xlsx. It may ask for credentials. Select Cancel. It opens in the web portal.

  2. Select Appliance in the slicer.

    Excel Online in web portal

  3. Select Browse to go back to the web portal.

Clean up resources

Now that you've finished this tutorial, delete the resource group, virtual machine, and all related resources.

  • To do so, select the resource group for the VM and select Delete.

Next steps

In this tutorial, you've created a VM with Power BI Report Server. You've tried some of the functionality of the web portal, and you've opened a Power BI report and a paginated report in their respective editors. This VM has SQL Server Analysis Services data sources installed, so you can try creating your own Power BI and paginated reports with those same data sources.

To learn more about creating reports for Power BI Report Server, continue on.