How to use Workspaces and Apps in Power BI

November 20, 2017

Two important features of Power BI Service are Workspaces and Apps. Apps are slightly newer to the Power BI Service but are closely related to workspaces. Knowing how to use workspaces and apps in Power BI will allow you to take advantage of some of its best collaborative features.


Before we go into each area, the main distinction is as follows:

  • an App is used for sharing content
  • a Workspace is used mainly for collaborating on content

How and when to use Workspaces

The basic function of a workspace is to store and organize your Power BI content. In addition to those capacities is perhaps its most powerful feature, collaboration.  The workspace can serve as a space to bring together different reports and datasets created by different users.  Access and rights’ can be managed at the workspace level.

All accounts come with a default “My Workspace” but this should not be used for even the simplest of collaborative efforts. If more than one person will be accessing the content, then a dedicated workspace should be created.

If you publish a report from Power BI Desktop, you will need to select a workspace to put it in.


Each workspace should have some logical grouping to it such as Marketing, IT etc.

You can take advantage of existing Security Groups from Power BI or Office 365 or simply add users manually. Administrators of the workspace can add things like Row Level Security or appoint other Admins.

How and when to use Apps

An App is just a distributed, read-only version of the contents from the workspace.

Simply put, an app comes from one and only one workspace.

Creating an app from our workspace is the easiest way to distribute reports to large audiences without worrying about access to files or content being edited.

If your team or audience is relatively small, you won’t need to make an app out of your workspace.

Creating an App is best for deploying to:

  • larger audiences (100+ users).
  • those who will only consume content and not necessarily contribute to development efforts.

One nice feature of this relationship is that when you publish an app, the app workspace then functions like a staging area. You can edit or make incremental changes without committing those changes to the published version of the app. So your audience won’t see the changes until you decide.

When you are ready to commit those changes or additional content, you simply click Update app from the workspace.



What can I do in a Workspace?

  • Edit and create content that will go into the App.
  • Add members to the space and control their rights to content within the space.
  • Make edits to an app before updating it, so user audience does not see changes until you explicitly update app.

What can I do in an App?

  • Interact with and consume content.

Keep an eye on Microsoft’s monthly updates as they continue to add capabilities into Power BI Service. Now you have some idea of how and when to deploy these spaces. Go create some content and start collaborating!