Since the Power BI team allowed to launch external tools from the Power BI desktop ribbon, several tools became available. Do you know you can create your own one in less than 2 minutes ? With the ‘External tools manager’ within ‘Power BI Sidetools’, you just need to fill in several information ignoring everything about Json and base64 formats. You easily change the tools order, select an image, add arguments, test and save your changes. A wizard is even available to do it in a simplistic way.
External tools definitions are hosted in Json files located in a special Power BI desktop folder : C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\microsoft shared\Power BI Desktop\External Tools
To be able to add/modify Json files in Power BI desktop folder, it is necessary to have administrator access.
If you don’t have this access, sorry but you will not be able to improve the external tools list for the moment. You might ask to your IT team to have a write access to this directory
If you have this access, Windows may ask you confirmation as soon as Power BI Sidetools will write in the folder. That’s a normal protection against malicious software writing in your system folders
Different external tools types
You are able to create an external tool opening any application (.exe, .com, .bat file). This application can be connected to your model like DAX Studio, Tabular Editor, ALM Toolkit or Power BI Sidetools. But it can be also a disconnected application like Notepad or Windows Task Manager. It can be also a specific file, a directory or an URL.
To create a new external tool entry, select an existing one and click on ‘Duplicate’, ‘New’ or ‘Wizard’ button.
The wizard will guide you through few steps
But you can also do it manually
Click on the ‘…’ button and select the application file
Required arguments depend on the application
Click on the ‘…’ button and select your file
No application is required. The default application will open the file
No argument is required. If you add arguments, they will be sent to the default application
You can also specify the application and type the file path as an argument. If the file path contains spaces, the whole path must be surrounded by double quotes (ie : “C:\My path\My file.xlsx”)
Type C:\Windows\Explorer.exe in the path
Type the folder to open in arguments
Click on the link button and type the URL
Power BI Sidetools will add C:\Windows\Explorer.exe in the path so the URL will be opened in the default browser
You can change the path to force a particular browser
Arguments will change the application behaviour. Arguments which are allowed depend on the application. You may find information in the application documentation. Search in Internet for ‘command line options’ or ‘command line switches’.