How to Hide Objects From the Power BI Mobile Apps

If you’ve worked at all with the Power BI mobile app, you’ll find that it’s quite straightforward to use. What it does in essence is to render out objects from Excel workbooks in a manner that is easy to consume from a mobile device. It uses Excel Services to render the content, but it doesn’t do so in a manner that may be familiar to Excel Services users, which is to essentially replicate the spreadsheet editing environment in a browser. Instead, each named object is presented as a distinct object, and in favourites, the workbook is represented as a section.

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Clicking on any of the objects opens it in full screen mode. Swiping down from the top, or right clicking on the report opens a bar at the top that allows you to navigate to any of the other objects.

By default, any named object will appear, as well as Power View reports. (It should be noted that as of right now at least, Power Map objects are not rendered by the Mobile app). However, what happens if we don’t want an object to be rendered in the application? If you use Power Query, and you follow my recommendations of loading the data directly into the data model, you’ll likely bump into the need to do this fairly quickly. Queries are named objects in the workbook, and are rendered by the mobile app.

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In the screen above, there are actually 7 objects in the workbook, but the favourites view can only display 6. Three query stubs are blocking a Power View report. Not an ideal situation. What we want to do is to hide these queries, but how to do so is not immediately obvious. The BI app uses Excel Services to render the objects, and since the early days of Excel Services, Excel has had a mechanism to control what gets rendered by Excel Services.

If we open the source workbook in Excel we will see that all of the named objects are contained in worksheets named “Pivots” and “Pie” another worksheet, “Power View 1” contains the Power View report. The queries are all stored in different worksheets. In order to control what gets rendered, we first click on the “File” tab in the ribbon, and click the “Browser view options” button.

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You are then presented with a dialog that allows you to determine what is rendered by Excel Services. The default is “Entire Workbook”, but you can select specific “Sheets”, or for very fine grained control, “Items in the workbook”.

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In our case, we just want to turn off items in the unnamed sheets, so we deselect them. Once this is done, all that is necessary is to save the workbook back into its library, and the results become immediately apparent on a refresh of the app.

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This is a bit of a brute force approach. It affects not only the mobile app, but also anyone using the workbook from a browser – those sheets will be invisible to any users using the Excel Web App. I can foresee a need to hide things from the mobile app but not from the browser. I can also see a need to control the layout of the objects, but these are early days. For now, I’ll take this approach.

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