Custom analyser

Custom analyser

With ‘Custom analyser’ feature, Power BI Sidetools users can use external tools built by the community.They may create their own Power BI external tool. The process is incredibly quick and simple. An icon can be added in the desktop ribbon so your brand new tool can be run in one click. Tools can be built in Pbit or Excel files. You will be able to share these files freely. Examples are provided so you start immediately with a result. Possibilities are infinite ; I can’t wait to see what you will do with it.

Custom analyser concept

Everything starts from an opened Pbix report you want to analyse. Any custom analyser must be run from this report.

Running the ‘Custom analyser’, Power BI Sidetools simply exports a bunch of files describing the opened Pbix report. Most of files are already familiar to experimented users but we also added simplified files exposing very obvious items.

custom analyser

Then, Sidetools opens an available custom analyser which uses exported files. The refresh is automatic.

Your first steps

In the ‘More’ menu, select ‘Custom analyser’

Select a custom analyser in the drop down list and click the ‘Process’ button

The Pbit file is loaded and refreshed automatically

Create an icon in desktop’s ‘External tools’ ribbon

In the ‘More’ menu, select ‘External tools manager’

Click on ‘Wizard’ button

  • Type in a file name which will be used to sort icons in ‘External tools’ ribbon
  • Type in a tool name which will be displayed under the icon
  • Click on the right arrow to go to next step

Optionally fill in description and version

Optionally, click on the image and select the image file you want. Otherwise, a default image will be used

Select ‘an individual Sidetool’

Select ‘Custom analyser’

Select a custom analyser file

Review the settings and save

  • Close Power BI Sidetools
  • Close the Pbix file
  • Reopen the Pbix file
  • You are ready to open the custom analyser with only one click

More details about External tools manager : Click here

Get more custom analysers or share yours

Custom analysers are Pbit or Xlsm files. You reach them clicking on the folder icon. You can move and share these files as you want

Featured external tools

Power BI Sidetools natively includes a set of expert tools built by advanced users:

  • ‘Power BI cleaner’ by Imke Feldmann
  • ‘Data God Model Auto Docs’ by Chris Wagner
  • ‘Bookmark Documenter’ by Reid Havens

Big up to these valuable people who share their tools for free with the community !!!

Create your own custom analyser

The easiest way to create a custom analyser is modifying an existing one.

  • Open a custom analyser with Sidetools
  • Modify it
    • A best practice is to reference existing queries so it will be easier for you to update them with copy/paste
  • In order to save it:
    • select ‘File / Export / Power BI template’
    • in ‘Export a template’ window, fill in the template description and click ‘Ok’ button
    • name your Pbit file and click on ‘Save’ button. Please be aware files published by Sidetools are overwritten each time a custom analyser is run. So use different names to save your own custom analyser
  • It’s not necessary to save the ‘Untitled’ report

Use more resource files

Some resource files are not loaded in the published example but you can see the list of available files in the ‘PBI Sidetools resource files’ query. For example, if you want to load the theme used by the Pbix, follow these steps in Power Query:

  • Select the ‘Source folder’ query
  • Copy the source folder path in the clipboard
  • In the ‘Home’ ribbon of the desktop, click on the ‘New source’ button
  • Select a source type (‘Json’ for our example)
  • When the file explorer window appears, paste the source folder path into the path selector at the top of the window and type ‘Enter’ key
  • Navigate to this sub folder : ‘Unzipped report\Report\StaticResources\SharedResources\BaseThemes’
  • Select the Json file
  • Modify the ‘Source’ step replacing the hard coded path with the ‘Source folder’ query:
    • = Json.Document(File.Contents(#"Source folder" & "Unzipped report\Report\StaticResources\SharedResources\BaseThemes\…"))
  • Then you can parse the Json
  • I recommend opening the Json file in ‘VS Code’ in order to understand its structure. The extension ‘JSON Tree View‘ from ChaunceyKiwi is highly recommended also

When opening a csv file, don’t forget to use a relative path and to set the ‘QuoteStyle’ parameter to csv :

DMV_Columns = Csv.Document(File.Contents(#"Source folder" & "DMVs\TMSCHEMA_COLUMNS.csv"),
                                        [Delimiter="#(tab)", Encoding=1200, QuoteStyle=QuoteStyle.Csv]),

Exported files

Exported files can be grouped in several categories:

  • General information like Pbix file size and path, your Power BI version and the one available for download. Some information is provided with the help of the fantastic PBI Tools from Mathias Thierbach.
  • Model like the ‘Model.bim’ file ready to be parsed. ‘M expressions.csv’ contains all queries.
  • Layout like the visualisation layer within ‘layout’ Json file or even a more readable version. But there is also a simplistic list of visuals with their visibility status plus their coordinates, sizes and page.
  • DMVs like ‘TMSCHEMA_MEASURES.csv’ containing measures defined within the Pbix with their description, expression, display folder, visibility status, format string, … More DMVs will be added on request.
  • Unzipped report files. Sidetools unzips the Pbix and exposes its files. This way, for example, you may calculate how many bytes are used by images or custom visuals. You can also parse theme, metadata or settings. The ‘DataModel’ file is not exposed because it might be huge as it contains data

If you need more files, please submit an issue in GitHub

Test version

The test version is available here :

Select the first asset and unzip it any folder you want. You may have different versions in different folders. Each version has it’s own settings.

Open the report you want to analyse in Power BI desktop.

Execute ‘Power BI Sidetools.exe’ from the unzipped folder. Sidetools will connect automatically to the opened Pbix. If multiple Pbix are opened, Sidetools will let you select the one you want to connect.

In case the test version doesn’t come with the updated version of a custom analyser you want to test, you can drop the new version in ‘C:\Users\username\Documents\Power BI Sidetools\Other tools\Custom analyser’ folder

If you create an icon in desktop’s ‘External tools’ ribbon from the test version, be aware they will only open the test version you are testing. A good practice is to set an icon name beginning by ‘Test’

Under the hood

What is happening when you run a custom analyser ?

Pbit custom analyser

When you click on ‘Process’ button while a Pbit is selected, Power BI Sidetools follows these steps :

  • create resource files from the Pbix using PBI Tools from Mathias Thierbach
  • create resource files from the Pbix :
    • unzip the Pbix file
    • run several DMVs and export them to csv files
    • export the Model.bim file and ‘M expressions.csv’ file
    • export the ‘Layout’ file and more readable versions of the layout (‘Readable layout.json’ and ‘Visuals visibility.csv’)
    • create resource files from the Pbix using Sidetools’ internal features
  • create a file listing all available resource files (‘Files and folders.csv’)
  • extract the selected custom analyser Pbit with PBI Tools
  • modify the custom analyser Pbit file in order to update the ‘Source folder’ query
  • compile the selected custom analyser Pbit with PBI Tools
  • open the selected custom analyser
  • wait for selected custom analyser refresh

Xlsm custom analyser

The Xlsm custom analyser example is available if you prefer to create an Excel custom analyser

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