top of page

Live Commentary in Power BI

Nick Hilton | 10 November 22 | 4 min read

Welcome back to the blog. Earlier this month we did a deep dive into collaboration in Power BI and I’d like to take this opportunity to continue on that theme and add another potential angle. Now...I haven’t got anything to back up this claim but I’d take a guess that a huge amount of reports in Power BI are for Management Reporting, and while excellent data and well-designed reporting will get you most of the way there when it comes to making informed decisions the best cherry on top of that is to have some narrative and exposition from the people working within that area. In fact, I would say that it is possible to become too focused on the data. People will always be the most important part of an organisation and if you’re looking at finances then chances are your understanding will be massively enhanced with some added commentary from the finance team. Once upon a time getting this level of insight across departments was a massive exercise in inconvenience, but not anymore.

Essentially what we’re going to be doing is creating an accessible location for data entry and then implementing that in Power BI. As with many problems in tech there are a multitude of solutions to choose from and the best one is often quite bespoke to your own organisation. In this post we’re going to go through a few examples I’ve seen used and hopefully cover a range of options for you to work with. Hope you find this helpful!

Example 1 – Using Excel Online

Our first requirement is to create a location where users can leave commentary, it has to be convenient, and it has to be accessible for the Power BI service. If you’ve ever wondered, ‘when do people actually use the online versions of the office suite?’ then wonder no more!

Go to

Click on Excel on the left menu, and then ‘new blank workbook’

Excel Online.png

Save the document as you normally would in Excel and make sure to choose a shared location that will be accessible by anyone who needs to add commentary. Also, if you aren’t setting up the scheduled refresh then the user who Is doing that will need access.


Finally, you just need to grab the URL from the address bar, open up your PBIX, click ‘get data’ and then click web as your data source. Paste your URL and follow the prompts. When you’re done, you’ll end up with an Excel file in query that looks like any other.


Example 2 - Offline Collaboration

Assuming you’re going to be publishing this report to the service then you’ll need one accessible location but once you’re using offline data sources then the limit is really only your imagination (that sounds so much more exciting than it really is). For example, we could easily do something very similar to the Excel Online method and just use an Excel file which is read in. Or we could have users adding their commentary to a word document in much the same way. Or… we could have a system where users leave their commentary in a text file with a date and another identifier (e.g. XS010122 for executive summary on 01/01/22.) and then use power query so that each time Power BI refreshes it could pull the latest files in and only show the latest.

Ultimately the options are endless for something like this. You could have a text box in a proprietary system which feeds into a database, or even a Power Automate flow which takes emails with a certain identifier and uses the text in those emails as the data source.

As I started writing this blog post I had a number of examples that I’ve either used myself or with clients, but as I got into it I started to realise that there really are so many options and that essentially I’m not far off writing a post on “how to get data into Power BI” which I’m sure you know by now. What I realised though is that even though it’s simple it’s something most people don’t consider. When we started I mentioned the value of commentary from your experts being alongside raw data is massive, critical even, and if this post does anything I hope it helps normalise that practice.

Thank you for reading, hope you found this post useful. See you next time!

bottom of page