What’s the deal with Excel and Power BI Desktop Files support in Reporting Services?


Hi all!

So one feature that was introduced in SQL Server 2016 RC1 for Reporting Services was the ability to store Power BI Desktop and Excel Workbooks files on the server.  This feature generated a lot of buzz on social media, with people looking to understand exactly what this means vis a vis the roadmap announced in October of last year.  With that in mind, I wanted to do a post that answered that question along with some others.  Let’s do that now using the tried and true fake interview format!

Wow, this is so cool.  I can now store Excel Workbooks and Power BI Desktop files in Reporting Services!

Yes you can!  Though to be fair, this feature has been around for quite some time.  We did add a few things, like calling these items out as separate report types, allowing you to add them as favorites and giving them a special icon.

That’s it?

Well, because they are resource files, you can could access them using the SOAP API.  That might be valuable for folks to take advantage of.

Is this the integration you announced at PASS last year?  Cause if this is all we’re getting, that’s pretty lame.

Nope, this is just a first step.  The team wanted to have something for folks when SQL Server 2016 launched, but it doesn’t change our plans at all for adding full support for Power BI desktop files in Reporting Services.

Great – when is that Power BI desktop support coming?  I want it yesterday!

We know, and we are as excited to bring that support to the product as you are to get your hands on it.  We’re heads down on SQL Server 2016 currently, and it’s top feature to get added post RTM.

So you’re not going to tell us a specific date?

I don’t have one to give.

Fine – can you at least tell us what features will it include?  Can I use custom visuals?  Will Q&A work?  Can I build dashboards like we can in the service?

Right now, the only thing we’re certain of is we’ll provide support to view and interact with the reports in a browser in Reporting Services.  We’re not in the business of providing the bare minimum, however.

That’s pretty rich coming from the team that didn’t do anything with the product since  –

Very funny.  Were there any other questions you had?

Wait a minute – you didn’t mention you’d be adding full support for Excel Workbooks in Reporting Services on your roadmap, but you added special support for those as well.  Does that mean – ?

Yes – well, probably.  There’s broad support to do that, and it’s a popular idea with our customers.  When those things are aligned, it usually means it will happen.

Great – when is it happening?

I dunno.

What??!  You just said –

I said probably – there’s still some stuff that needs to be finalized, and I certainly wouldn’t formally announce something like that on a personal blog post on April Fools Day.  If and when it’s official, you’ll be the first to know.

Are you saying this entire blog post is an April Fools Day gag?

No, absolutely not.

And there you have it.  Hopefully this gives you some additional context around the feature and what we’re up to as we prepare for the official launch of Reporting Services in 2016.  As always, have a great weekend!