Back in 2020, I released the first version of the Power BI external tool to document your Power BI data model. Since then, I wrote a lot about this topic, such as why adding descriptions to everything is important and various releases of the model documenter.
Users encountered various challenges with the initial release of the tool. I tried to help everyone to my best knowledge, but some issues kept coming back. Over the past period, I worked together with my colleague Ton Swart to solve all these challenges in a new updated version!
Today, I’m overly excited to announce version 2 of the Power BI Model Documenter!
In this blog you will read more about the new version, the enhancements, where and how you can get it.
In case you directly want to get your hands on it, please download the latest version of the model documenter directly from GitHub.
Focus of the Model Documenter
The Power BI Model Documenter is primarily focused on documentation purposes. The tool will only extract information that is part of your data model. This is done by taking benefit of the VPAX file extension, which includes meta data of Tabular Models.
A few minor elements that are flagged in red in the Model Documenter, only relate to missing descriptions (which are key to documentation) or potential risks in relationships which can lead to ambiguity or limited relationships.
If you are looking for cleaning up your solution or suggestions for improvements of your data model, I encourage you to have a look at Power BI Cleaner built by Imke Feldmann.
The before and after of Model Documenter
With Model Documenter v2 we take a massive step forward by solving a bunch of common challenges! Now, Model Documenter has an easy next-next-finish installer which helps you to put the files in the right location. Also, the entire backend of the tool has changed to be more reliable and avoid common encountered challenges. A massive shout out to Ton Swart for helping out with rebuilding!
Previous challenges with Model Documenter v1
Previous challenges are listed below:
- Installing the external tool was a pain, as manual changes in the Program Files folder were required.
- Model documenter v1 used PowerShell on the backend, where Execution policies were conflicting with organizational policies which prevented usages for some folks.
- Model documenter v1 used Dynamic Management Views (DMVs) to read metadata from the model on local host. This run through the OleDB connector which executed SQL queries. By executing native queries in SQL, some users had to approve every single query run in Power BI (due to local Power BI settings).
- Model documenter v1 caused issues with loading the data due to privacy level configurations in the local Power BI instance.
- Model documenter v1 was only able to read from local host data models in Power BI Desktop.
New in Power BI Model Documenter v2
New in Model Documenter v2 is:
- Easy next-next-finish installer to put the files in the right location on the computer.
- New and enhanced backend of the tool, which is not relying on DMVs nor PowerShell anymore.
- Ground-up rebuild model documentation Power BI Template file, to present all information in a report.
- Support for live connected Analysis Services models, or through XMLA endpoint connected Power BI Premium datasets. (Live connected Power BI datasets are not yet supported)
- No longer pop-up windows to allow native query execution.
- No more failing loads due to privacy levels
(Note: Ignoring privacy levels improves Model Documenter run time).
- Deprecation of the Excel model documenter report. Going forward, only Power BI report will be supported.
The Model Documenter comes with a bunch of resources. Below a list of resources that could come in useful:
- Model Documenter web page where you can find release notes and the history behind the tool.
- GitHub wiki with an introduction to the Model Documenter v2 to learn more about the tool, what an external tool is and a page-by-page explanation of the Model Documenter output.
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to answer your questions and challenges you might encounter.
- GitHub repository, in case you want to contribute to this open source project.
- In case of issues that are not listed in the FAQ, please open an issue here.
11 thoughts on “Power BI Model Documenter v2”
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Amazing tool!! Thank you for your hard work and generosity!
This is one of the best external tools I have seen. The evolution between the two version is beautiful. Congratulations on this amazing work!
I have one question. Can we connect an XMLA endpoint in PBI Service? if not, do you think that might be a good feature for V3? I would like to keep the doc up to date when something is changed in the model.
Again amazing work guys!
It’s blocked on my system by MS Defender Smart Screen.
Is the app signed?
The app is nog signed unfortunately. On my system I can proceed beyond the windows defender screen, but might be blocked for you if you’re not a local admin.
Like always, nice work Marc. its been a while since i installed v1. Whats the best way too deinstalled v1 also in the BI external tools.
great tool! I am fan of it.
Is there update planned for field parameter (fp)? As currently for reports with fp it is not working… 😦
Thanks for bringing this up again. The tool is dependent on vpax files. As long as vpax files don’t support it, I cannot add it to the tool unfortunately.
Currently I’m enjoying my summer break, but I’ll add it to my list to check upon my return.
Not sure if anyone else is having the same issue but I have tried this External Tools “Model Documenter” on two separate Power BI files and I get error messages relating to what it seems is the New Parameter > Fields:
Query (18, 87) Column [PrmFieldPicker] is part of composite key, but not all columns of the composite key are included in the expression or its dependent expression.
Error 0x0003: Error exporting vpax file.
Sorry to hear that John.
Could you try to export a vpax file using DAX Studio and see how that goes? I expect that you have the same issue there, as the Model Documenter is leveraging the same engine to generate the vpax. Also if that succeeds with DAX Studio, we know where to start searching.
Hi Marc, I have done the export and open the vpax file via DA Studio, was I expecting to see an error on there? Or do I need to run something else?