Using Power BI with Microsoft Lists

Microsoft Lists debuted in 2020 and they are a (yet another) great way to organize list-based data. Now, when someone says data, I think Power BI. Obviously, we’ll want to report on this data, but how do we do that? There is no Power BI connector for Microsoft Lists. The answer is quite simple, if not completely obvious. You need to use the SharePoint Online List connector in Power BI.

Microsoft Lists are the same thing as SharePoint lists. In fact, they ARE SharePoint lists. The Microsoft Lists service is just a new user interface for interacting with them. You can use Lists all you want and never see SharePoint at all, unless you need to change list settings, but I digress. Given this fact, as far as Power BI is concerned, everything that applies to SharePoint lists applies to Microsoft Lists lists (the grammar here gets awfully awkward).

For reference, I wrote a series of articles some time ago about the idiosyncrasies of working with SharePoint data in Power BI, and these articles are still valid today (2021). The most recent of these articles can be found here and includes links to the others.

There is one thing that is worth mentioning about Microsoft Lists. When a new list is created using the Lists interface, the user can save it to any of their SharePoint sites, but another option is to same it to “My lists”.

When you use the SharePoint Online list connector in SharePoint, it prompts you to enter the URL for the SharePoint site that contains the list that you want to report on. That is straightforward when your list is stored in a SharePoint site, but what if your list is stored in “My lists”? Where are “My lists” stored?

They are stored in a “personal” SharePoint site. We SharePoint old timers would know it as the MySite, and while usage of MySite has been de-emphasized in Microsoft 365, it is very much still there. Each user has one. In fact, this is where the “personal” OneDrive for Business content is stored – in the Documents library of the very same MySite. By storing personal lists in the MySite, Microsoft Lists is just following the same pattern used by OneDrive for Business, which makes perfect sense.

Given this, what URL should you use in Power BI to connect to your lists stored in “My Lists”? You’ll find it in the Microsoft Lists web interface in the URL bar. It’s that portion of the URL up to “/Lists/.

In most cases it will take the following form:

https://TenantName-my.sharepoint.com/personal/LoginID/Lists/ListName

Where:

  • TenantName = the name of your Microsoft 365 tenant, i.e. Contoso
  • LoginID = the email address used to login to Microsoft 365 with the “@” and the “.” replaced with underscores i.e. jpw_contoso_com
  • ListName – the name of you list

Once you enter in this URL, you’ll have access to any of the lists stored in “My lists”. At this point, your personal lists will behave like any list in any other SharePoint site.

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