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Using PowerBI Desktop to manage dataset through XMLA

Hi all,


We recently upgrade to Premium Per User, to be able to create a more streamlined deployment process. We currently used to publish our datamodel as a PBIX file to a workspace, but with a file growing to over 100Mb, managing that through GIT with Azure Devops Pipelines is not really ideal. Also, versioning of PBIX files is not possible, as they are large binary files.


With PPU, I was able to deploy changes to the dataset using Tabular Editor, and by saving all the model assets as small JSON files, a GIT based deployment is a lot clearer:

  1. Developer makes changes using TabularEditor, directly on the model through XMLA in a dev-workspace
  2. When everything works, he saves the model in a directory
  3. Using VSCode, changes are pushed into GIT 
  4. A DevOps pipeline can now run, deploying the updated model with TabularEditor (commandline) through XMLA to a test-workspace.

Now in theory this works fine, but there is one big caveat: once you start using the XMLA endpoint, you can no longer download the datamodel as a PBIX file. And that's a problem for us: several developers rely on PowerBI Desktop for changing the model, because it has a lot of wizards and preview options to create calculated columns and measures. Doing everything "by hand" in Tabular Editor is not an option for the entire team.


So I was wondering if there is a way to keep using PowerBI Desktop to make changes to our data model? Or are you stuck with tools like TabularEditor once you start using the XMLA endpoint? I am hoping that I missed something, or maybe a future release of PowerBI Desktop might support this?


Kind regards,



Super User
Super User

You are missing the Power BI Template part. PBIT files are PBIX files with all the meta data and none of the data, so they are well suitable for git handling.  Some of us even disect the PBIT  (basically ZIP archives) and push the individual components to git.


Another piece of the puzzle is ALM Toolkit.  You will want to check if that suits your needs better than Tabular Editor.

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