Connectivity Requirements of Power View in Excel 2013

Overview:  Quick tip about using Power View in Excel 2013 re: how data refreshes are handled, as well as requirements for data connectivity and Internet connectivity.

Power View Refresh Behavior Upon Opening the Excel File

Recently I had an “aha” moment when I realized Power View acts differently than a PivotTable when you open a previously saved Excel 2013 file.  When you open an Excel file that has previously been saved, a PivotTable will render its last saved state (if the external data connection is *not* set to “Refresh data when opening the file”).  I usually explain to new self-service users that this behavior of a PivotTable can be a bit of a security hole if an Excel file is emailed to someone who doesn’t have formal security to see the data – the recipient can see the data last saved in the PivotTable but they couldn’t refresh it unless they have permission to do so (if the external data connection is *not* set to “Refresh data when opening the file”).

However…Power View does not behave the same way.  When you open a previously saved Excel file, it immediately wants to refresh the Power View sheet when you click on it.  As far as I’m aware, Power View cannot render its last saved state, nor can it render a snapshot as of a point in time.

For example, the following screen shot displays a Power View sheet where the external Tabular model data source is unavailable.  The Power View message says “Sorry, something went wrong while loading the model for the item or data source ‘DataSourceName’. Verify that the connection information is correct and that you have permissions to access the data source.”

This behavior tells us we need to have connectivity to our external data source in order to view the Power View report.

Online Connectivity Requirements for using Power View

From what I’ve learned so far, there are the following online requirements for Power View reporting in Excel:

  1. Access to External Data Sources (i.e., if accessing an external Tabular model instead of an embedded PowerPivot model).  This might mean a worker has to VPN into their office if using an Excel file while at home, for instance.
  2. Internet Connectivity if using Maps (Power View integrates with with Bing Maps).
  3. Internet Connectivity if using Image URLs (as opposed to binary images embedded in the data model).