For those who aren’t familiar with the business analytics workhorse that is Microsoft Power BI, the self-service analytics system includes a web publishing component that allows sharing via multiple mediums – including phone, web browsers, tablets, desktops and laptops. The flexible business intelligence suite is known for its rich visuals. Thanks to R, the powerful, open-source programming language, creating and supplementing those visuals just got easier.

R, which scripts advanced analytics and graphics, works with Power BI in two ways – it can be used as a data source and to create visualizations.


Typically, users might import a CSV file, connect to a SQL Server data source, or an analysis services data set to access the information needed to create charts. R can serve the same purpose. By treating an R script as a source, Power BI users can take any data frame (similar to a table) created in the script and make it available as a data set that can be used for multiple purposes, including modeling and creating graphics, performing analytics, and data predictions. Users can even create a data frame of predictions and ultimately tie them into their Power BI workflow. The simple click of a button captures the R script data sets and their IDs. Just import them into a blank Power BI canvas and execute the script. The user can then instantly create visuals based on that information, or integrate the information with other data sets.

Creating visuals is just as easy. In Power BI’s Visualizations panel, users can open the R editor to import code, drag and drop fields that they want to use within R script, and Power BI will visualize and render the data. If the user changes filter selections, Power BI will re-run the R code based on the context of the filter selected, automatically updating the visuals, switching effortlessly from line graphs to bar charts, and allowing the seamless integration of R and Power BI visuals, in an interactive, user-friendly experience.

Watch this brief video tutorial below to see how easy it is to incorporate R into your Power BI experience.


Be sure to check out our Microsoft R landing page for more articles and helpful resources.

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