Microsoft brings the custom visual developer tool for Power BI out of preview

Kareem Anderson

Another of Microsoft’s services is dropping its preview tag and being released to customers with broader availability. Sachin Patney, a software engineer manager on Microsoft’s Power BI team, is announcing the general availability of its custom visual developer tool.

Over the past few months, an elite few have been testing and creating custom visualizations with the new Power BI extensibility feature known as a custom visual developer tool, but as of August 5, 2016, every Power BI user will have the chance to try it out for themselves.

Patney is not only announcing its immediate availability to the general public, but today’s release also comes with a handful of new features and tweaks that have been applied since the Power BI extensibility team has been able to address previewer feedback.

Power BI custom visualization
Power BI custom visualization

Here’s what general customers can expect from today’s release:

External Libraries

One of the biggest asks was to use external libraries. Since the new tool uses the standard typescript compiler, you can bring in any external library of your choice and use it within your visual.

Visual Isolation

All custom visuals will run in a sandboxed IFrame. This will allow you to use particular versions of libraries and global styles, without the fear that you’ll step on anyone’s toes.

Backward compatibility

By following clear versioning practices, we’re reiterating our commitment to stability and backward compatibility. Visuals created with the new tool will continue to work with all upcoming versions of the Power BI service and Power BI Desktop.

Command-line tools

The new developer tool is purely command-line based, and works across platforms with any IDE of your choice. Our web developer tools, while still functional today, will be deprecated in the future, so we recommend using our new developer tool instead.

Developer Visual

We have created a companion visual that allows you to test your visual inside a report with real data. It also allows you to inspect your data within the visual, as well as react automatically to code changes to refresh the visual code, styles, and data-bindings.

Source maps

With this new approach we are able to generate source maps so you can easily debug your typescript code in the browser or IDE.


We have published a roadmap to help you understand where we’re going, and to provide us feedback on what you’d like us to focus on next.

New repositories

We have created a few new repositories to allow you to skip the bloat, and only enlist in what you need.

  • PowerBI-visuals-tools -> Repository for online tools.
  • PowerBI-visuals-docs -> Documentation.
  • PowerBI-visuals-sampleBarChart -> Code for the sample visual documented in the tutorial. This is also the format we will be following in the future, so each of our custom visuals has its own repository.

For those interested in getting started with the new custom visualization tool, head over Microsoft’s Power BI Blog for instructions on downloading and installing the developer tool. At Microsoft’s Power BI Blog, customers will find links to other developer-related resources as well as further information on Power BI’s roadmap for the coming months.

Let us know in the comments how you plan to make use of custom visualizations for you sample projects.