Introduction to dashboards for Power BI designers

A Power BI dashboard is a single page, often called a canvas, that tells a story through visualizations. Because it's limited to one page, a well-designed dashboard contains only the highlights of that story. Readers can view related reports for the details.

Dashboard

Dashboards are a feature of the Power BI service only. They're not available in Power BI Desktop. Although you can't create dashboards on mobile devices, you can view and share them there.

Dashboard basics

The visualizations you see on the dashboard are called tiles. You pin tiles to a dashboard from reports. If you're new to Power BI, you can get a good foundation by reading Basic concepts for designers in the Power BI service.

Important

You need a Power BI Pro license to create dashboards.

The visualizations on a dashboard originate from reports and each report is based on a dataset. One way to think of a dashboard is as an entryway to the underlying reports and datasets. Selecting a visualization takes you to the report (and dataset) that it's based on.

Diagram showing relationship between dashboards, reports, datasets

Advantages of dashboards

Dashboards are a wonderful way to monitor your business and see all of your most important metrics at a glance. The visualizations on a dashboard can come from one underlying dataset or many, and from one underlying report or many. A dashboard combines on-premises and cloud data, providing a consolidated view regardless of where the data lives.

A dashboard isn't just a pretty picture. It's highly interactive and the tiles update as the underlying data changes.

Dashboards versus reports

Reports and dashboards seem similar because they're both canvases filled with visualizations. But there are major differences, as you can see in the following table.

Capability Dashboards Reports
Pages One page One or more pages
Data sources One or more reports and one or more datasets per dashboard A single dataset per report
Available in Power BI Desktop No Yes. Can build and view reports in Power BI Desktop
Subscribe Yes. Can subscribe to a dashboard Yes. Can subscribe to a report page
Filtering No. Can't filter or slice Yes. Many different ways to filter, highlight, and slice
Featured Yes. Can set one dashboard as your featured dashboard No
Favorite Yes. Can set multiple dashboards as favorites Yes. Can set multiple reports as favorites
Set alerts Yes. Available for dashboard tiles in certain circumstances No
Natural language queries (Q&A) Yes Yes, provided you have edit permissions for the report and underlying dataset
Can see underlying dataset tables and fields No. Can export data but can't see tables and fields in the dashboard itself Yes

Next steps

  • Get comfortable with dashboards by taking a tour of one of our sample dashboards.
  • Learn about dashboard tiles.
  • Want to track an individual dashboard tile and receive an email when it reaches a certain threshold? Create an alert on a tile.
  • Learn how to use Power BI Q&A to ask a question about your data and get the answer in the form of a visualization.