Understand the deployment process

The deployment process lets you clone content from one stage in the pipeline to another, typically from development to test, and from test to production.

During deployment, Power BI copies the content from the current stage, into the target one. The connections between the copied items are kept during the copy process. Power BI also applies the configured deployment rules to the updated content in the target stage. Deploying content may take a while, depending on the number of items being deployed. During this time, you can navigate to other pages in the Power BI portal, but you can't use the content in the target stage.

You can also deploy content programmatically, using the deployment pipelines REST APIs. You can learn more about this process in the Automate your deployment pipeline using APIs and DevOps article.

Deploying content to an empty stage

When you deploy content to an empty stage, the metadata of the reports, dashboards, and datasets in the workspace you're deploying from, is copied to the stage you're deploying to. A new workspace for the stage you deployed to, is created on a Premium capacity.

There are two ways to deploy content from one stage to the next one. You can deploy all the content, or you can select which content items to deploy.

You can also deploy content backwards, from a later stage in the deployment pipeline, to an earlier one.

After the deployment is complete, refresh the datasets so that you can use the newly copied content. The dataset refresh is required because data isn't copied from one stage to another. To understand which item properties are copied during the deployment process, and which item properties are not copied, review the item properties copied during deployment section.

Creating a Premium workspace

During first-time deployment, deployment pipelines checks if you have Premium permissions.

If you have Premium permissions, the content of the workspace is copied to the stage you're deploying to, and a new workspace for that stage is created on the Premium capacity.

If you don't have Premium permissions, the workspace is created but the content isn’t copied. You can ask a capacity admin to add your workspace to a capacity, or ask for assignment permissions for the capacity. Later, when the workspace is assigned to a capacity, you can deploy content to this workspace.

If you're using Premium Per User (PPU), your workspace is automatically associated with your PPU. In such cases Premium permissions aren't required. However, workspaces created by a PPU user, can only be accessed by other PPU users. In addition, content created in such workspaces can only be consumed by PPU users.

Workspace and content ownership

The deploying user automatically becomes the dataset owner of the cloned datasets, and the only admin of the new workspace.

Deploy content to an existing workspace

Deploying content in a working production pipeline, to a stage that has an existing workspace, includes the following:

  • Deploying new content as an addition, to a stage that already contains content.

  • New content deployed to replace old content, in a current working stage.

Deployment process

Content from the current stage is copied over to the target stage. Power BI identifies existing content in the target stage and overwrites it. To identify which content item needs to be overwritten, deployment pipelines uses the connection between the parent item and its clones. This connection is kept when new content is created. The overwrite operation only overwrites the content of the item. The item's ID, URL, and permissions remain unchanged.

In the target stage, item properties that aren't copied, remain as they were before deployment. New content and new items are copied from the current stage to the target stage.

Auto-binding

In Power BI, when items are connected, one of the items depends on the other. For example, a report will always depend on the dataset it's connected to. A dataset can depend on another dataset, and can also be connected to several reports that depend on it. If there's a connection between two Power BI items, deployment pipelines will always try to maintain this connection.

During deployment, deployment pipelines checks for dependencies. The deployment will either succeed or fail, depending on the location of the item that provides the data that the deployed item depends on.

  • Linked item exists in the target stage - Deployment pipelines will automatically connect (auto-bind) the deployed item, to the item it depends on in the deployed stage. For example, if you deploy a paginated report from development to test, and it's connected to a Power BI dataset that was previously deployed to the test stage, it will be automatically connected to that dataset.

  • Linked item doesn't exist in the target stage - Deployment pipelines will fail a deployment if an item has a dependency on another item, and the item providing the data isn't deployed and doesn't reside in the target stage. For example, if you deploy a report from development to test, and the test stage doesn't contain its Power BI dataset, the deployment will fail. To avoid failed deployments due to dependent items not being deployed, use the Select related button. Select related automatically selects all the related items that provide dependencies to the items you're about to deploy.

Auto-binding works only with Power BI items that are supported by deployment pipelines and reside within Power BI. To view the dependencies of a Power BI item, from the item's More options menu, select View lineage.

A screenshot of the view lineage option, in an item's more options menu.

Auto-binding across pipelines

Deployment pipelines automatically binds Power BI items that are connected across pipelines, if they're in the same pipeline stage. When you deploy such items, deployment pipelines will attempt to establish a new connection between the deployed item and the item it's connected to in the other pipeline. For example, if you have a report in the test stage of pipeline A that's connected to a dataset in the test stage of pipeline B, deployment pipelines will recognize this connection.

Here's an example with illustrations that will help demonstrate how auto-binding across pipelines works:

  1. You have a dataset in the development stage of pipeline A.

  2. You also have a report in the development stage of pipeline B.

  3. Your report in pipeline B is connected to your dataset in pipeline A. Your report depends on this dataset.

  4. You deploy the report in pipeline B from the development stage to the test stage.

  5. The deployment will succeed or fail, depending on whether or not you have a copy of the dataset it depends on in the test stage of pipeline A:

    • You have a copy of the dataset the report depends on in the test stage of pipeline A

      The deployment will succeed, and deployment pipelines will connect (auto-bind) the report in the test stage of pipeline B, to the dataset in the test stage of pipeline A.

      A diagram showing a deployment of a report from the development stage to the test stage in pipeline B. The report is connected to a dataset in pipeline A. The deployment is successful because there's a copy of the dataset the report depends on in the test stage of pipeline A. After the deployment the report in the test stage on pipeline B, auto-binds with the dataset in the test stage of pipeline A.

    • You don't have a copy of the dataset the report depends on in the test stage of pipeline A

      The deployment will fail because deployment pipelines can't connect (auto-bind) the report in the test stage in pipeline B, to the dataset it depends on in the test stage of pipeline A.

      A diagram showing a deployment of a report from the development stage to the test stage in pipeline B. The report is connected to a dataset in pipeline A. The deployment fails because there isn't a copy of the dataset the report depends on in the test stage of pipeline A.

Avoid using auto-binding

In some cases, you might not want to use auto-binding. For example, if you have one pipeline for developing organizational datasets, and another for creating reports. In this case, you might want all the reports to always be connected to datasets in the production stage of the pipeline they belong to. To accomplish this, you'll need to avoid using the auto-binding feature.

A diagram showing two pipelines. Pipeline A has a dataset in every stage and pipeline B has a report in every stage. All the reports from pipeline B are connected to the dataset in the production stage of pipeline A.

There are three methods you can use to avoid using auto-binding:

  • Don't connect the Power BI item to corresponding stages. When the items aren't connected in the same stage, deployment pipelines keeps the original connection. For example, if you have a report in the development stage of pipeline B that's connected to a dataset in the production stage of pipeline A. When you deploy the report to the test stage of pipeline B, it will remain connected to the dataset in the production stage of pipeline A.

  • Define a parameter rule. This option isn't available for reports, you can only use it with datasets and dataflows.

  • Connect your reports dashboards and tiles to a proxy dataset or dataflow, that isn't connected to a pipeline.

Auto-binding and parameters

Parameters can be used to control the connections between datasets or dataflows and the Power BI items that they depend on. When a parameter controls the connection, auto-binding after deployment won't take place, even when the connection includes a parameter that applies to the dataset’s or dataflow's ID, or the workspace ID. In such cases, you'll need to rebind the items after the deployment by changing the parameter value, or by using parameter rules.

Note

If you're using parameter rules to rebind items, the parameters must be of type Text.

Refreshing data

Data in the target Power BI item, such as a dataset or dataflow, is kept when possible. If there are no changes to a Power BI item that holds the data, the data is kept as it was before the deployment.

In many cases, when you have a small change such as adding or removing a table, Power BI keeps the original data. For breaking schema changes, or changes in the data source connection, a full refresh is required.

Requirements for deploying to a stage with an existing workspace

A user with a Pro license or a PPU user who's a member of both the target and source deployment workspaces, can deploy content that resides on a premium capacity to a stage with an existing workspace. For more information, review the permissions section.

Deployed items

When you deploy content from one pipeline stage to another, the copied content contains the following Power BI items:

  • Datasets

  • Reports

  • Dataflows

  • Datamarts

  • Dashboards

  • Paginated reports

Unsupported items

Deployment pipelines doesn't support the following items:

  • Datasets that don't originate from a PBIX

  • PUSH datasets

  • Streaming dataflows

  • Reports based on unsupported datasets

  • Template app workspaces

  • Workbooks

  • Metrics

Item properties copied during deployment

During deployment, the following item properties are copied and overwrite the item properties at the target stage:

  • Data sources (deployment rules are supported)

  • Parameters​ (deployment rules are supported)

  • Report visuals​

  • Report pages​

  • Dashboard tiles​

  • Model metadata​

  • Item relationships

Sensitivity labels are copied only when one of the conditions listed below is met. If these conditions aren't met, sensitivity labels will not be copied during deployment.

  • A new item is deployed, or an existing item is deployed to an empty stage.

    Note

    In cases where default labeling is enabled on the tenant, and the default label is valid, if the item being deployed is a dataset or dataflow, the label will be copied from the source item only if the label has protection. If the label is not protected, the default label will be applied to the newly created target dataset or dataflow.

  • The source item has a label with protection and the target item doesn't. In such cases, a pop-up window asking for consent to override the target sensitivity label appears.

Item properties that are not copied

The following item properties aren't copied during deployment:

  • Data - Data isn't being copied, only metadata is copied

  • URL

  • ID

  • Permissions - For a workspace or a specific item

  • Workspace settings - Each stage has its own workspace

  • App content and settings - To deploy your apps, see deploying Power BI apps

  • Personal bookmarks

The following dataset properties are also not copied during deployment:

  • Role assignment

  • Refresh schedule

  • Data source credentials

  • Query caching settings (can be inherited from the capacity)

  • Endorsement settings

Supported dataset features

Deployment pipelines supports many Power BI dataset features. This section lists two Power BI dataset features that can enhance your deployment pipelines experience:

Incremental refresh

Deployment pipelines supports incremental refresh, a feature that allows large datasets faster and more reliable refreshes, with lower consumption.

With deployment pipelines, you can make updates to a dataset with incremental refresh while retaining both data and partitions. When you deploy the dataset, the policy is copied along.

To understand how incremental refresh behaves with dataflows, see why do I see two data sources connected to my dataflow after using dataflow rules?

Activating incremental refresh in a pipeline

To enable incremental refresh, configure it in Power BI Desktop, and then publish your dataset. After you publish, the incremental refresh policy is similar across the pipeline, and can be authored only in Power BI Desktop.

Once your pipeline is configured with incremental refresh, we recommend that you use the following flow:

  1. Make changes to your PBIX file in Power BI Desktop. To avoid long waiting times, you can make changes using a sample of your data.

  2. Upload your PBIX file to the development stage.

  3. Deploy your content to the test stage. After deployment, the changes you made will apply to the entire dataset you're using.

  4. Review the changes you made in the test stage, and after you verify them, deploy to the production stage.

Usage examples

Below are a few examples of how you may integrate incremental refresh with deployment pipelines.

  • Create a new pipeline and connect to it a workspace with a dataset that has incremental refresh enabled.

  • Enable incremental refresh in a dataset that's already in a development workspace.

  • Create a pipeline from a production workspace that has a dataset that uses incremental refresh. This is done by assigning the workspace to a new pipeline's production stage, and using backwards deployment to deploy to the test stage, and then to the development stage.

  • Publish a dataset that uses incremental refresh to a workspace that's part of an existing pipeline.

Considerations and limitations

For incremental refresh, deployment pipelines only supports datasets that use enhanced dataset metadata. All datasets created or modified with Power BI Desktop automatically implement enhanced dataset metadata.

When republishing a dataset to an active pipeline with incremental refresh enabled, the following changes will result in deployment failure due to data loss potential:

  • Republishing a dataset that doesn't use incremental refresh, to replace a dataset that has incremental refresh enabled.

  • Renaming a table that has incremental refresh enabled.

  • Renaming non-calculated columns in a table with incremental refresh enabled.

Other changes such as adding a column, removing a column, and renaming a calculated column, are permitted. However, if the changes affect the display, you'll need to refresh before the change is visible.

Composite models

Using composite models you can set up a report with multiple data connections.

You can use the composite models functionality to connect a Power BI dataset to an external dataset such as Azure Analysis Services. For more information, see Using DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services.

In a deployment pipeline, you can use composite models to connect a dataset to another Power BI dataset external to the pipeline.

Automatic aggregations

Automatic aggregations are built on top of user defined aggregations and use machine learning to continuously optimize DirectQuery datasets for maximum report query performance.

Each dataset keeps its automatic aggregations after deployment. Deployment pipelines doesn't change a dataset's automatic aggregation. This means that if you deploy a dataset with an automatic aggregation, the automatic aggregation in the target stage will remain as is, and won't be overwritten by the automatic aggregation deployed from the source stage.

To enable automatic aggregations, follow the instructions in configure the automatic aggregation.

Hybrid tables

Hybrid tables are tables with incremental refresh that can have both import and direct query partitions. During a clean deployment, both the refresh policy and the hybrid table partitions are copied. When deploying to a pipeline stage that already has hybrid table partitions, only the refresh policy is copied. To update the partitions, refresh the table.

Deploying Power BI apps

Power BI apps are the recommended way of distributing content to free Power BI consumers. Using deployment pipelines you can manage Power BI apps in a deployment pipeline, so that you have more control and flexibility when it comes to your app's lifecycle.

Create an app for each deployment pipeline stage, so that you can test each app update from an end user's point of view. A deployment pipeline allows you to manage this process easily. Use the publish or view button in the workspace card, to publish or view the app in a specific pipeline stage.

A screenshot highlighting the publish app button, at the bottom right of the production stage.

In the production stage, the main action button on the bottom-right corner opens the update app page in Power BI, so that any content updates become available to app users.

A screenshot highlighting the update app button, at the bottom right of the production stage.

Important

The deployment process does not include updating the app content or settings. To apply changes to content or settings, you need to manually update the app in the required pipeline stage.

Permissions

Permissions are required for the pipeline, and for the workspaces that are assigned to it. Pipeline permissions and workspace permissions are granted and managed separately.

  • Pipelines only have one permission, Admin, which is required for sharing, editing and deleting a pipeline.

  • Workspaces have different permissions, also called roles. Workspace roles determine the level of access to a workspace in a pipeline.

To deploy from one stage to another in the pipeline, you must be a pipeline admin, and either a member or an admin of the workspaces assigned to the stages involved. For example, a pipeline admin that isn't assigned a workspace role, will be able to view the pipeline and share it with others. However, this user won't be able to view the content of the workspace in the pipeline, or in Power BI service, and won't be able to perform deployments.

Permissions table

This section describes the deployment pipeline permissions. The permissions listed in this section may have different applications in other Power BI features.

The lowest deployment pipeline permission is pipeline admin, and it's required for all deployment pipeline operations.

User Pipeline permissions Comments
Pipeline admin
  • View the pipeline​
  • Share the pipeline with others
  • Edit and delete the pipeline
  • Unassign a workspace from a stage
  • Can see workspaces that are tagged as assigned to the pipeline in Power BI service
Pipeline access doesn't grant permissions to view or take actions on the workspace content.
Workspace viewer
(and pipeline admin)
  • Consume content
  • Unassign a workspace from a stage
Workspace members assigned the Viewer role without build permissions, cannot access the dataset or edit workspace content.
Workspace contributor
(and pipeline admin)
  • Consume content​
  • Compare stages
  • View datasets
  • Unassign a workspace from a stage
Workspace member
(and pipeline admin)
  • View workspace content​
  • Compare stages
  • Deploy items (must be a member or admin of both source and target workspaces)
  • Update datasets
  • Unassign a workspace from a stage
  • Configure dataset rules (you must be the dataset owner)
If the block republish and disable package refresh setting located in the tenant dataset security section is enabled, only dataset owners will be able to update datasets.
Workspace admin
(and pipeline admin)
  • View workspace content​
  • Compare stages
  • Deploy items
  • Assign workspaces to a stage
  • Update datasets
  • Unassign a workspace from a stage
  • Configure dataset rules (you must be the dataset owner)

Granted permissions

When deploying Power BI items, the ownership of the deployed item may change. Review the table below to understand who can deploy each item and how the deployment affects the item's ownership.

Power BI Item Required permission to deploy an existing item Item ownership after a first time deployment Item ownership after deployment to a stage with the Power BI item
Dataset Workspace member The user who made the deployment becomes the owner Unchanged
Dataflow Dataflow owner The user who made the deployment becomes the owner Unchanged
Datamart Datamart owner The user who made the deployment becomes the owner Unchanged
Paginated report Workspace member The user who made the deployment becomes the owner The user who made the deployment becomes the owner

The table below lists required permissions for popular deployment pipeline actions. Unless specified otherwise, for each action you'll need all the listed permissions.

Action Required permissions
View the list of pipelines in your organization No license required (free user)
Create a pipeline A user with one of the following licenses:
  • Pro
  • PPU
  • Premium
Delete a pipeline Pipeline admin
Add or remove a pipeline user Pipeline admin
Assign a workspace to a stage
  • Pipeline admin
  • Workspace admin (of the workspace to be assigned)
Unassign a workspace to a stage One of the following:
Deploy to an empty stage
  • Pipeline admin
  • Source workspace member or admin
Deploy items to the next stage
  • Pipeline admin
  • Workspace member or admin of both the source and target stages
  • To deploy datamarts or dataflows, you must be the owner of the deployed item
  • If the dataset tenant admin switch is turned on and you're deploying a dataset, you'll need to be the dataset owner
View or set a rule
  • Pipeline admin
  • Target workspace contributor, member or admin
  • Owner of the item you're setting a rule for
Manage pipeline settings Pipeline admin
View a pipeline stage
  • Pipeline admin
  • Workspace reader, contributor, member or admin. You'll see the items that your workspace permissions grant access to.
View the list of items in a stage Pipeline admin
Compare two stages
  • Pipeline admin
  • Workspace contributor, member or admin for both stages
View deployment history Pipeline admin

Considerations and limitations

This section lists most of the limitations in deployment pipelines.

  • The workspace must reside on a premium capacity.

  • The maximum number of Power BI items that can be deployed in a single deployment is 300.

  • Downloading a PBIX file after deployment isn't supported.

  • When deploying a Power BI item for the first time, if another item in the target stage is similar in type (for example, if both files are reports) and has the same name, the deployment will fail.

  • For a list of workspace limitations, see the workspace assignment limitations.

  • For a list of unsupported items, see unsupported items.

Dataset limitations

  • Datasets that use real-time data connectivity can't be deployed.

  • A dataset with DirectQuery or Composite connectivity mode, that uses variation or calendar tables, isn’t supported.

  • During deployment, if the target dataset is using a live connection, the source dataset must use this connection mode too.

  • After deployment, downloading a dataset (from the stage it's been deployed to) isn't supported.

  • For a list of deployment rule limitations, see deployment rules limitations.

Dataflow limitations

  • When deploying a dataflow to an empty stage, deployment pipelines creates a new workspace and sets the dataflow storage to a Power BI blob storage. Blob storage is used even if the source workspace is configured to use Azure data lake storage Gen2 (ADLS Gen2).

  • Service principal isn't supported for dataflows.

  • Deploying common data model (CDM) isn't supported.

  • For deployment pipeline rule limitations that affect dataflows, see Deployment rules limitations.

  • If a dataflow is being refreshed during deployment, the deployment will fail.

  • When comparing stages during dataflow refresh, the results are unpredictable.

Datamart limitations

  • You can't deploy a datamart with sensitivity labels.

  • To deploy a datamart, you need to be the datamart owner.

Next steps