PowerBi first impressions, as a Tableau fan boy

Yesterday I attended a PowerBi full day training session. Below are my first impressions as a Tableau enthusiast.

Comparing these two tools is not an easy task and might not be very valuable to compare anyway, so treat this as my pure impressions. And try yourself to form your own opinion!

I have often seen Tableau referred as the Lego of Business Intelligence tools and PowerBI as Duplo of Business Intelligence tools; I don’t think it is very fair comparison.

As a disclaimer, I’m not a data analysis, I have been using Tableau for 3 years as a hobby to tell data stories. I have only played with Tableau Prep a few times, so can’t really say much about data preparation side of things.

These below are the positive points about PowerBi:

  • Easy enough no coding drag and drop software to create dashboards/reports with easy sharing options
  • PowerBi has pretty much the same feel as many other Microsoft product, so easy to learn
  • Data modelling with Power Query editor and DAX language are very powerful. It was easy to clean and prepare data (simple tasks only). May be Tableau Prep is the same? I understand why now Tableau has developed Prep!
  • Large choice of already made charts, drag and drop, pretty easy to use
  • Easy to import extra charts via ‘Import from AppSource/Marketplace’ (all type of funky charts are here, I could not see any Voronoi!)
  • PowerBi is free for O365 users, so easy to install and learn without paying (not free to publish/share)
  • ‘Ask a question about your data’ (Q&A – Machine Learning?) is interesting and seems to work well for simple questions
  • The publish features are straight forward but it becomes confusing to work out who can see your dashboards (and which PowerBi licence people require)

These below are the not so good points about PowerBi:

  • User interface can be confusing and clunky in some parts. Sometimes you expect a right click but what you are looking for is buried 4 clicks away
  • In some sections, it feels like you are working on Paint…I know not nice
  • Reports/dashboards terms are confusing – I still can’t figure out the difference between reports and dashboards…
  • You can open sample dashboards but there is no way to edit or download the .pbix files to learn
  • Editing your report in PowerBi online is ok but very limited, but I don’t really see the point if it is that limited
  • Desktop app feels a bit buggy and has crashed a few times
  • The format pane is pretty annoying! Why can’t you right click on a chart to format or hide things?
  • The filters, Drill trough can be a bit confusing and not very intuitive…lots of click around
  • The Phone layout a bit of a joke
  • In Powerbi Online, once you publish, the interface becomes very confusing (it feels like SharePoint sometimes) with so many features and options..you get lost!
  • There is no easy way to publish to the Power Bi public gallery from desktop (unless I’m blind)

To sum up PowerBI is a very capable, easy to use Business Intelligence platform that will allow you to create reports and dashboard pretty quickly without too much coding.

But I have to say I loooove Tableau seamless user interface and really enjoy using it for my data hobby projects.

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