Power BI Cleaner Gen2 is here

Edit 23rd August 2021: This article is outdated, please read the updated version here: Power BI Cleaner Gen2 now covers Analysis Services Models as well

Today I’m very excited to share with you my first version of a complete rework of my Power BI Cleaner tool. It is way faster the the initial version, overcomes some bugs and limitations of the old version and doesn’t require creating additional vpax files.

On top of that, I’ve created an Excel-version, that adds some very convenient additional features: The option to analyze thin reports and to generate scripts that delete unused measures and hides unused columns automatically.

Basic Power BI version

Fill in parameters

First you have to open the Power BI file whose data model you want to analyse. Then open the Cleaner Power BI template file and fill in the local port number and file path of the file to analyze into the 2 mandatory parameters.

Enter parameters for the new Power BI Cleaner file

I’m always using DAX Studio to grab the port number, but there are other methods described in this article as well. Please use only the numeric part (not “localhost”):

Retrieve port number from DAX Studio

When you try to refresh the data, you will be prompted with a dialogue about how to connect to your local Power BI model:

Connect to data model that runs on a local Analysis Services instance

Just accept the default dialogue (“Use my current credentials”).

Next comes a prompt for Privacy Levels. Click on “Ignore Privacy Levels” in there:

Ignore Privacy levels in this prompt

Main report

Main report

On the Overview page, you see a matrix with table and column names in the row section and usage information in the columns. Upon readers requests I’m distinguishing between fields that are not used at all in the report (1) and those who are used in DAX expressions, but the fields it has been used in, have not been used in the report at the end (2). So fields in here can also be deleted from the model. But depending on when you delete them, you might break some measures or calculated column temporarily. But those are the ones that can also be deleted at the end. The decision to delete a column in the source or hide it in the report might depend on the column size, which is also given at the end of the matrix (5).

In the next column you see where the used fields are actually used (3). So these fields should stay in the model. The next column is just a summary, indicating if the field can be deleted or not.

To the left there are some filters that you might find useful. For example, you can select all fields that can be deleted by choosing the first box in the “Can be deleted”-filter (6).

If you expand the fields in the row section, you will first see the DAX expression of the field. After that, you see where this field has been used throughout the report.

The last 4 pages of the Excel file (DMV_Measures, DMV_Columns, DMV_CalculationGroupItems, DMV_Hierarchies), just hold a list of all DAX expressions in your model as a reference.

Delete or hide unused items automatically: Excel version

The Excel-version can also generate scripts for you that can delete unused measures or hide unused columns automatically. It also allows to analyze thin reports: Meaning Power BI reports that don’t have an own data model but instead use a live connection to a central data model in the service.

To start you have to fill in the port number into B9 just like in the Power BI version. In B12, you must fill in the path to the pbix like in the Power BI version or the path to a pbit version. Both will work.

Click on “Refresh main result” will refresh the data and move you over to the “Result” page. This looks just the same than in the Power BI version.

The next page “Measures_Delete” holds a table to the left with one row for each measure that is not used. Based on it, the table to the right will generate a code that can be used to delete all the measures using the Tabular Editor tool.

Delete unused Measues

Before using this functionality, I strongly recommend to make a copy of your Power BI report, as the following actions are not officially supported by Microsoft. So if they break your report, they will not help you out on it.

The left table contains a list of detected measures that are not used anywhere in the report. If you want to keep some of the unused measures from there, simply delete the “Delete”-entry in column “Action” and it will be excluded from the code. Once you’re happy with the selection, click the button “Create and copy code”. This will refresh the table to the right that  contains the code that would automatically delete all the listed measures if used in Tabular Editor.

Use Tabular Editor to delete or hide unused items

Then you can simply copy the code, open Tabular Editor (LinkToProVersion, LinkToFreeVersion) and paste the code into the “Advanced Scripting” window. Click run, save the file and the cleanup is done:

Open Tabular Editor

Connect to PBIX model

Select default settings

Paste code from Excel and run script

Save modifications to the model

In your PBIX-model, the measures should be gone now.

The same principle goes for the columns, that can be hidden with the tables from sheet “Columns_Hide”.

Analyze thin reports

Based on files

Also in the Excel-version, there is a table where you can add all the files to analyze that are using the currently opened dataset. Yes: You can analyze “thin reports” with it that don’t have an own data model, but are connected to a centrally published model instead. Simply add the path to the pbix or pbit-versions into table “ReportFiles” on the “Instructions”-sheet. The model that holds the central dataset must be open in Power BI Desktop and its port number entered into B11 of the “Instructions” page.

In the pivot table on the “Result”-sheet, the last column level field is “Report File(s)” and there you can see in which (thin) report each element is used.

Directly from the service

And to make it even more convenient, you can also analyze your reports from the Power BI service directly. This requires an app registration that provides the access to this data. This article provides a guide on how to register such an app. The app needs to have “Workspace.ReadAll” and “Report.ReadAll” permissions. To authenticate with this service from Excel, you can create and grab a token from one of the API endpoint-pages, like: Datasets – Get Datasets – REST API (Power BI Power BI REST APIs) | Microsoft Docs. There you must click on “Try it”:

Connect to endpoint to grab token

Next the authentication will start and you have to login to the account that has access to the app. On success, you’ll see a window like so that displays the token. Click on “Copy”:

Copy token from webpage

Paste it into B7/B8 of the Excel sheet.

Paste token details into

Also fill in the dataset ID into cell B2. You find the dataset ID in the URL if you edit the dataset details in the service like so for example:

Grab shared dataset ID from URL

2 different connection modes

If you have admin rights in Power BI, the queries can fetch details from all workspaces in your tenant. Therefore you have to switch the value in cell B4 to “As Admin”. Otherwise, keep the default entry “As User”. In that case, only the details of those reports will be displayed, where you have access to.

Please note, that even measures that have been created in the thin reports (report level measures) will be detected as well. Just have in mind, that they will not be covered by the automatic

As long as there is an entry for the DatasetID in cell B2, Excel will try to use the dataset and the corresponding token. After a while, the token will become invalid. To generate a new one, simply refresh the page where you’ve grabbed it from. If you haven’t already, now it’s time to vote to enable the usage of custom connectors in Excel so this cumbersome process can be omitted: Add support for custom data connectors (Power Query M extensions) – Welcome to Excel’s Suggestion Box! (uservoice.com)

This has been a frequent request by many users and I’m really happy for being able to provide this now. Just don’t forget please, that this analysis doesn’t include fields used in Excel-reports that are connected to these central datasets.

Areas covered

The following areas of field usage are covered in these versions:

  • DAX expressions (measures, columns, hierarchies, tables, report level measures, roles, bins, calculation items and title expressions)
  • Incremental refresh policies
  • Relationships
  • Filters (visual-, page- and report level)
  • Visuals (incl. conditional formatting)

Limitations

  • When upgrading your workspace, your reports might be rebound to the dataset. In that case, the API will not return any data.
  • Automatic retrieval by the API will also not work for reports in the old workspace format.

Warning

I cannot guarantee that this all works 100% correct, so you’re using it on your own risk. Don’t forget to make a copy of your file before starting to throw out your measures and columns. If you find any bugs, please mention them in the comments.

Feature requests

Are there additional functionalities that you’d like to see in this tool?
Post it in the comments, please.

Problems

If you’re getting a warning that data sources cannot be combined, you must disable privacy settings like so:

Disable Privacy Levels in Excel

 

Download files

Attention: These downloads belong to the current version of the tool. Please read this blogpost for up to date instructions.

PBIT: Power BI Version Cleaner Gen2

Excel version with macros: Cleaner Gen2 Excel-Version with Macros

Enjoy and stay queryious 😉

Comments (34) Write a comment

  1. Thank for your job! I hope it is a minor issue.
    I got Server address from Dax studio and then got an error:
    “AnalysisServices: A connection cannot be made. Ensure that the server is running.”

    Reply

    • Hi Stepanov,
      not sure what you mean with “Server address”, but it must be the numeric value of the port number.
      I’ve updated the article to make this more clear, hopefully.
      Thanks for pointing this out.
      Cheers, Imke

      Reply

  2. Hello Imke, that looks great !
    I get the following error with Excel 2013. Are there some pre requisites like Power Pivot ?

    Sorry… We couldn’t refresh “Query StorageSize” :
    Query “fnPortModel” (step “Source”) reference other queries or steps and so cannot access directly to a data source

    I didn’t find this “fnPortModel” in my queries
    Thanks for the tool ! It seems to be quite exhaustive

    Reply

  3. Sorry for my previous comment. After I updated Power Query and I ignored privacy level in Excel’s Power Query, the error message disapeared but then I got an other one :
    We couldn’t refresh « StorageSize » table from connexion « Query – StorageSize » :

    MdxScript(Model) (6, 54) Syntax for ‘CanBeDeleted’ is incorrect.

    That’s strange as the refresh works in Power Query

    Reply

    • Hm, yes, that’s strange.
      Probably an issue with the macro then.
      Have you tried refreshing this query without the macro?

      Reply

  4. Pingback: Power BI Cleaner Gen2 – Curated SQL

  5. Yes I tried refreshing this query without the macro. It looks like working as I see the table and Load status is “Loaded to data model” but there is still the error. It might come from my setup.
    I noticed there is one more step (added index) in the Excel file query “AllFields_Used”. I removed it.

    With the pbit :
    You may add the desktop version needed for your pbit file as a pre requisite. I needed to update because April version returned an error.
    First I got these errors but I refreshed and then it worked (might be a precedence issue) :
    AllFields_DAX
    Query ‘AllFields_DAX’ (step ‘Added Custom’) references other queries or steps, so it may not directly access a data source. Please rebuild this data combination.
    AllFields_Used
    Query ‘DMV_Columns’ (step ‘Added Custom’) references other queries or steps, so it may not directly access a data source. Please rebuild this data combination.

    Reply

    • Thank you, Didier.
      These errors usually come from the security settings and once the Privacy Levels are disabled, they should go away.
      Sorry about the version problem, but I don’t run older versions on my machines and it’s difficult to estimate which older versions will break.
      /Imke

      Reply

  6. Hi .
    It is coming with en error while trying to upload the data in all 4 of them:
    We cannot convert the value null to type Text

    Reply

  7. Me again.
    It seems like in case of direct connection from the report to an AAS model you report cannot handel it.

    Reply

    • Hi Yair,
      oh yes, I should have mentioned that. Sorry.
      I believe I can adjust it to handle AS models as well. Let me check this out in the evening.
      Hang in there 😉
      Cheers, Imke

      Reply

  8. Hi,

    Love your tool, super easy to use and very simple to read and analyse from this. It has also made my job of cataloguing all of our measures and column naming so much quicker.

    I have only run it against a few of my reports but spotted one possible improvement. I noticed that your tool stated my column was not being used at all when it was in use in the smart narrative box. Not sure if its something local on my end or if it is even something your are able to do.

    Thanks for taking the time releasing and improving this tool,
    Tom

    Reply

  9. Hi Imke

    I have tried your cool tool, but I have run in to a problem.
    It might be a bug, or I might have misunderstood something.

    In my .pbix I have two measures. Both is used. But the Power BI Cleaner says one of them can be deleted as it is not used at all. In reality it is used in a number of visuals.
    I just thought you should know, and if you could guide me in the right direction, that would be great.

    Thank you!

    Regards
    Mette Axelsen

    Reply

    • Hi Mette,
      thanks a lot for reporting this.
      Are you able to share the pbit of your file for me to troubleshoot?
      Thanks and cheers,
      Imke

      Reply

  10. This is a super-useful tool ! I just used it for the first time and it worked like a charm. If I find something to work on, I’ll post it, but for now it’s wonderful. Thanks for the hard work and for making my life easier ! Cheers

    Reply

  11. Hi Imke

    Thanks for sharing this tool! I have a question before having a go with it.

    My goal is to streamline the impact assessment and testing process when working with datasets that support multiple reports. So for example, when I update the DAX in a measure in a central, ‘golden’ dataset, I’d like to check the reports using that specific measure (in a filter or visual). We have reports across multiple workspaces, so I’d want – in an automated way – to identify which ones to include in testing. Of course, Power BI shows ALL of the reports using a dataset but this is less efficient than knowing only those affected by changes to a specific measure.

    Could your tool help with this?

    Thanks!
    Charlie

    Reply

    • Hi Charlie,
      if my understanding is correct, there is no shortcut to it other than my approach:
      First get all reports that use the dataset and then check for measures in them.
      /Imke

      Reply

      • Thanks Imke! Appreciate you responding on top of making this tool and sharing it with us.

        Will have a go.

        Reply

  12. Hi Imke. Thanks for a great tool.

    I have encountered an error from the function call:

    fnAllTextBetweenDelimiters([FilterExpression], “[“, “]”)

    Namely when the input does not contain any of the delimiters.

    Error message:
    An error occurred in the ‘fnAllTextBetweenDelimiters’ query. At least one of the delimiters is not found in the string

    The error occured in the named Power Query “DMV_U_Roles” where a Row-Level security filter expression is just the expression FALSE().

    My solution was to change the M-expression where the function was used:

    Before:
    = Table.AddColumn(
    #”Expanded DMV_Tables”,
    “Columns”,
    each fnAllTextBetweenDelimiters([FilterExpression], “[“, “]”)
    )

    After:
    = Table.AddColumn(
    #”Expanded DMV_Tables”,
    “Columns”,
    each try fnAllTextBetweenDelimiters([FilterExpression], “[“, “]”) otherwise null
    )

    Reply

  13. Hi there, this is a wonderful tool, it can really leverage productivity and performance while developing in Power BI. Thanks a lot for sharing this great work!
    I just want to report a possible issue with the Excel version. I am trying to connect it to a Power BI Desktop file which has a Direct Query connection to an Azure Analysis Services Tabular model and am receiving the following error message.

    Microsoft Visual Basic
    Run-time error ‘1004’:
    We couldn’t refresh the connection ‘Query – StorageSize’. Here’s the error message we got:
    Query ‘fnProtModel’ (step ‘Source’) references other queries or steps, so it may not be directly access a data source

    I don’t know if my scenario is even supported by the tool, please advise.

    Reply

    • Hi Mau,
      please check the last section of the article under “Problems”: You should check “Ignore privacy levels”.
      Live connection to SSAS is supported.
      /Imke

      Reply

  14. Hi Imke,

    This is exactly what I need. Super cool tool!
    I downloaded the newest version but I still got an issue that there is no value in “Where Used” even though I have already ignored privacy notes and refresh all. I’m not sure what the cause about it. It would be very helpful if you can provide some ideas or measures for me to fix it!
    Thanks a lot.

    Reply

    • Hi Sakae,
      I will publish a new version next weekend, hopefully it will work then for you.
      Sorry for the inconvenience.
      /Imke

      Reply

  15. Hi Imke.
    I have tried your latest version….is it me or i can not use it with AAS?
    It is still writing localhos and not the AAS url i gave it plus it is asking still for port number… i dont have on as i am using AAS.
    Would love to hear from you about it
    well done with you work and gret efforts 🙂
    Tnx in advance
    Yair

    Reply

    • Hi Yair,
      sorry to hear.
      Cannot reproduce you error, but will try to harden the solution a bit further.
      Make sure that you’ve selected the right case in the dropdown.
      Then row 13-20 should appear on the “Instructions”-page.
      /Imke

      Reply

  16. Hi Imke,

    Your tool is amazing! I have just cleaned up a pbix file that had a lot of measures, calculated tables and columns etc. The tool worked perfectly except in 2 instances where it recommended to delete but they are required:

    a column which was used in a pie chart as part of a hierarchy
    a column which was used as part of a condition in the code for a calculated table – see below – it recommended getting rid of CurrentMonthEndDate column:

    ADDCOLUMNS(
    table here,
    name of column,
    IF( BambooHR[Hire Date] <= [EndOfMonth] && (ISBLANK(BambooHR[LeavingDate]) || BambooHR[LeavingDate] > [EndOfMonth]) && ‘Calendar'[EndOfMonth] <= BambooHR[CurrentMonthEndDate],

    It also required a few iterations to really clear down all the redundant measures and columns.

    Overall, absolutely brilliant and very useful indeed!

    Angus

    Reply

  17. Hi Imke

    Just tried it on my most complex pbix. Alas it won’t load. Errors out. There is an error in the cell for the column BinaryText in the query ReportFiles on the Report/Layout row 2 from the step:
    #”Added Custom3″ = Table.AddColumn(
    #”Filtered Rows3″,
    “BinaryText”,
    each Json.Document([Custom])
    ),

    The error message is ‘an invalid escape sequence in JSON input’ – value \a Position=20113

    Happy to work with you to solve!

    Kind regards

    Angus

    Reply

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