Most Active Speaker

Mathias Thierbach

Mathias Thierbach

Data Platform MVP, Power BI Contributor, Developer of pbi-tools

London, United Kingdom

In 2015, after having spent over ten years as a Software Developer and Architect with Microsoft technologies, Mathias Thierbach moved into the Microsoft BI space. He soon landed on Power BI, but also realized quickly that the development and engineering tools and practices were nothing like the ones well established in software development. This is how pbi-tools started as a project, the only complete source control solution for Power BI.

During seven years of leading a data management team at YouGov, he experienced the benefits of those efforts every day. Having open sourced the project in fall of 2021, Mathias spends a lot of his free time bringing source control and DevOps practices to the wider Power BI community now.

In addition to his open source engagements, Mathias cares deeply about his role as an enterprise technology leader. Like many, once having started as a single contributor technologist, he had to pivot significantly when he moved into a manager role, responsible for building, stabilizing and growing a team of data engineers, analysts and architects. Mathias is now passionately sharing the many experiences and learnings that came out of that journey with the community.


Area of Expertise

  • Information & Communications Technology


  • power bi
  • DevOps
  • Azure
  • source control
  • Mentoring
  • Career development
  • Automation
  • CI/CD
  • BI & Analytics

Deep Dive into Power BI Source Control

2023 has brought significant new capabilities to Power BI for source control and deployment automation - Developer Mode, TMDL, and Fabric Git Integration, to name a few. Features many Pro users have been demanding for years.
With further extensions to those technologies planned for early 2024, this session is your opportunity to learn about the current state of source control for Power BI in a deep-dive workshop.
The session will focus on professional development patterns in a collaborative environment. It will explain and show how all the latest Pro Dev features in Power BI can be utilized to set up practical team development workflows.
Furthermore, attendees will understand where Microsoft's tooling still has gaps, and how external tools can be brought in to help.

Power BI Source Control & CI/CD

Professional CI/CD for Power BI is finally available to a wide audience with recent product innovations like Power BI Desktop Developer Mode and Fabric Git Integration! However, there are still many techniques and best practices to learn and understand. This training day enables you to get there!

With many new tools and features available only since 2023, this session is your opportunity to learn, hands-on, how to get started with source control, which tools are available, and what it takes to implement them successfully for your team/project.

You will learn about source control basics and practice the use of Git, Visual Studio Code and Azure DevOps in conjunction with Power BI. All the latest Power BI source control and collaboration features are covered, including Power BI Deployment Pipelines as well as advanced CI/CD pipelines via external tools.

Join this day for an in-depth and hands-on course that takes you from zero to be able to apply your new skills and implement better practices in your team.

1. Hands-on source control tutorial
2. Setting up CI/CD in your organization
3. Advanced workflows and branching strategies

* Learn git and source control basics
* Become familiar with Azure DevOps
* Understand DataOps principles
* Get a practical overview of the current CI/CD landscape for Power BI, both around tools and patterns

Supercharge your Power BI report development with PBI Explorer

PBI Explorer is a new and free community tool from Tabular Tools. The first and only one of its kind, it provides a Tabular Editor-style detailed view into all the visual definitions of your Power BI report.

Using the tool, you get entirely new powers understanding what is in any PBIX/PBIP report, including filters, visual properties, visual interactions, and the use of the data model.

Moreover, with the innovative Report Comparer, see a git-like side-by-side comparison of two different report versions. Use this to quickly inspect your own or someone else's changes between version A and version B of any report.

The talk introduces the free tool and demonstrates its use for common report development tasks. Attend the session to hear straight from one of the tool developers and ask your questions!

Tracking changes in Power BI Reports

With Fabric workspace git integration and Power BI Desktop Developer Mode, Microsoft has finally made substantial investments into source control capabilities for Power BI content creators.

The sources describing Power BI data models have long been known across the industry and are well documented (BIM, TMDL), but what about the report?

With the public preview of Developer Mode in PBI Desktop, released in June 2023, the sources behind reports (pages and visuals) have been made visible everyone for the first time. However, documentation and general understanding of those artifacts is still very sparse.

This session gives you all the information you need to take advantage of this change for your own development workflows:

* Learn to "read" the report sources in their current shape
* Understand upcoming improvements to the format
* Get an introduction to existing tooling, including some new, recently released, external tools
* Use your new understanding of the report sources for quality checks and sign-offs

Mathias has many years of experience implementing source control solutions for Power BI reports via his open source tool, pbi-tools. He also contributed the declarative TMDL format for datasets to the product team - explicitly designed to support source control scenarios.

What's New for Power BI CI/CD

As Power BI is being adopted by more and more businesses, there is a growing number of technical data management teams finding themselves with a desire to implement DevOps/DataOps principles and practices as part of their delivery process. CI/CD pipelines are an integral part of those systems, and for a long time Power BI was lacking suitable CI/CD capabilities. This situation has changed significantly in 2023, and several viable solutions are now available, both from Microsoft as well as from external tools.

This session provides an annotated overview of the latest Power BI CI/CD landscape. Looking at datasets, reports and other workspace artifacts, attendees will learn which options are available and what it takes to implement them. Advantages and disadvantages are explained as well as licensing requirements.

Mathias is uniquely qualified to present this topic: His open-source tool, pbi-tools, pioneered source control and CI/CD capabilities for Power BI. Earlier in 2023, Mathias contributed the new TMDL declarative data modeling language to Power BI, specifically to enhance the ability manage Power BI projects with DevOps tooling and enable enterprise-level collaboration scenarios. For anyone getting started with CI/CD for their Power BI projects as well as existing practitioners interested in updating their technical understanding of today's capabilities, this session is a must.

Incremental Refresh and partition management

You have lots of data, well Power BI can handle it. Build efficient loading data models by using Incremental Refresh in Power BI.

While setting up incremental refresh is easy, what is happening in Power is more of a mystery. This session does a deep dive into what happens when you are incrementally refreshing datasets.

This will be a technical dive in to Power BI Incremental refresh using SSMS, SQL Profiler, and Tabular Editor 3

Attendees will walk away with a complete understanding of the Incremental refresh set up within Power BI. Then a technical understanding of what happens at the Analysis services side inside

Extra topics also covered:
- Hybrid refresh policies
- Advanced features enabled via the Tabular Object Model
- Impact for deployment of datasets (DevOps concerns)

Power BI Report development in a team with pbi-tools

Power BI projects often start very small, with a single person quickly creating impressive results using Power BI Desktop and a project that is fully contained in a single file. When those early successes are then expected to scale in an enterprise context and to be replicated by a larger team, things get more complicated. There is no obvious scale-out path. And whilst for Power BI Premium and the XMLA endpoint model developers have some advanced third party tooling at their disposal, there is nothing comparable for report development. Report builders are limited to Power BI Desktop and black-box PBIX files.

This is where pbi-tools comes in to fill a significant gap. Mathias, the author of pbi-tools, will explain and demonstrate how report is lifted to a whole new level: with a source control compatible view of what's inside a PBIX file it is possible to review and check what's changed between versions, collaborate on the same project within a team, and even apply scripted transformations at the source code level.

Mathias started developing the tooling and associated workflows some five years ago and was able to test and improve the system over and over again since. Attend the session to benefit from that experience and take home lots of practical guidance and ideas.

The internals of a PBIX file and how pbi-tools helps make sense of it all

The PBIX file is the fundamental building block when it comes to Power BI development. You may have heard that PBIX files are simply ZIP files with an internal file structure, however, very little is publicly known beyond that.

Mathias, for his work on pbi-tools, has spent years deciphering the (undocumented) PBIX internals. Those efforts have led to pbi-tools, today the only end-to-end source control solution for Power BI development.

This session will explain what's inside a PBIX file and how everything is linked together. Using the folder structure view of a PBIX file provided by pbi-tools, all of the components (Model, Report, Queries, Resources, Settings) will be looked at in detail. You will understand how to track changes made to a PBIX file using Power BI Desktop, what those changes mean, and how to apply similar changes offline, targeting the pbi-tools folder structure only.

Using that understanding, the session will further look into more advanced automation scenarios which become viable once the PBIX internals are known and provide various examples. This session is likely to inspire you to take your Power BI projects to new levels of automation!

What is GIT and how do I get started? An introduction for Power BI developers

The session will explain GIT concepts to people who are new to source control or who want to refresh their knowledge. Power BI developers without an engineering background have traditionally felt a little lost in the world of GitHub and Azure Repos. However, tools like Tabular Editor and pbi-tools have brought source control capabilities into the Power BI ecosystem. There are even hints that Microsoft might be taking source control for Power BI more seriously now! Time for everyone to learn the basics, understand the key concepts and know which tools to use and where to find help!
If you want to understand what source control is and what terms like git, commit, branch, and pull request mean, this is the session for you. In addition to explaining the basics the session will also demonstrate some end-to-end development workflows using git for Power BI projects.

Advanced git Branching Model for Power BI

This session introduces in theory and practice a git branching model supporting collaborative incremental releases for Power BI datasets and reports.

The model is collaborative: it is designed for multiple team members working jointly on a shared set of changes.

It is designed for incremental releases: Those continuously deliver business value with a regular and reliable release cadence and allow the product manager, the develop team as well as stakeholders to refer to a particular feature set using a shared versioning scheme.

Using both the source control as well as deployment capabilities of pbi-tools (, this model was developed by Mathias as part of building and growing a distributed data management team and was continuously improved over multiple iterations.

Join the session to learn how it works, the thinking behind, and how to adopt it for your own workflows. Foundational understanding of source control and CI/CD is recommended.

Using pbi-tools for advanced Power BI CI/CD pipelines

pbi-tools (, having brought end-to-end source control capabilities to the Power BI ecosystem, also allows the creation of advanced CI/CD pipelines for Power BI Reports, Dataflows, and Datasets.

Where you need to go beyond Power BI's own Deployment Pipelines or want to rely on automation with Power BI Pro, pbi-tools is your go-to solution.

This session gives you all the necessary bits and pieces you need to set up your own pbi-tools powered pipelines. It will cover deployment manifests, what type of source artifacts are supported, the concept of deployment environments, and how to integrate it all into team workflows. You will learn what it takes to set up CI/CD pipelines in both Azure DevOps as well as GitHub Actions.

Advanced deployment manifest features are also covered, for instance parameterization of deployment artifacts and environment properties. You will be able to take home a good understanding of all required ingredients, but most importantly a list of sample repositories and pipeline definitions to use as templates.

Power BI Model Development Best Practices in a Team

Power BI projects often start very small, with a single person quickly creating impressive results using Power BI Desktop and a project that is fully contained in a single file. When those early successes are then expected to scale in an enterprise context and to be replicated by a larger team, things get more complicated. There is no obvious scale-out path, particularly with regard to model development.
Mathias, who has been on this exact journey over the past six years, presents the practices he has developed during that time, going from a single contributor beginning to a highly effective team setup. The session covers processes, tools, roles and automation, with a focus on very practical take-aways.

The session presents and explains the components required to establish a highly effective team developing Power BI models: Processes, Tools, Deployment Automation, and Documentation. Attendees will be able to take away plenty of proven ideas and patterns, including a source control based development model, a change management system using release pipelines, and a CI/CD setup providing automation at all possible stages. The key focus will be on the right processes to implement within the team.

In addition to Power BI Desktop, tools covered in the session include Tabular Editor, DAX Studio, and pbi-tools.

Lessons learned building a Power BI Team

You have spent most of your career with a focus on technology and you're feeling at home in that domain. Now you have been asked to build a team underneath you to take your previous accomplishments to the next level. Or you are considering a career move and step into management. If that is you and you are a technologist who is now a new or aspiring manager, this session will give you plenty of practical advise what to expect and prepare for.

From his own experience of having gone down this path over more than five years, Mathias will present his learnings and insights. It turns out the field of managing people and ensuring a team can function well as a coherent unit is rather different from the field of technology and computers! This session will help you not to feel lost and overwhelmed and instead take on this new challenge with great confidence and joy. The main focus is on "soft skills", however, embedded in a professional Power BI context.

Most importantly, you will be able to learn from someone else's mistakes instead of repeating them all yourself! Or, you might instead decide that a move into management is not for you after all and you should rather stay in a single contributor role. Either way, you will walk away with lots of trips & tricks. You will learn techniques for having greater awareness of yourself and others. You will get a useful reading list. And you will get plenty of food for thought and reflection. Ideally, this will make some contribution to making you a better leader and manager!

Data Saturday Rheinland 2024 Sessionize Event Upcoming

June 2024 Sankt Augustin, Germany

Power BI Cruise Sessionize Event Upcoming

June 2024 Stockholm, Sweden

Data Point Prague Sessionize Event Upcoming

May 2024 Prague, Czechia

DataGrillen 2024 Sessionize Event Upcoming

May 2024 Lingen, Germany

SQLDay 2024 Sessionize Event Upcoming

May 2024 Wrocław, Poland

Power BI Gebruikersdag 2024 Sessionize Event

March 2024 Utrecht, The Netherlands

Data Saturday München 2024 Sessionize Event

February 2024 Munich, Germany

DATA BASH '23 Sessionize Event

November 2023

Budapest BI Forum 2023 Sessionize Event

November 2023 Budapest, Hungary

dataMinds Connect 2023 Sessionize Event

October 2023 Mechelen, Belgium

Data Saturday Holland 2023 Sessionize Event

October 2023 Utrecht, The Netherlands

Power BI Next Step 2023 Sessionize Event

September 2023 Copenhagen, Denmark

SQL Konferenz 2023 Sessionize Event

September 2023 Hanau am Main, Germany

Data Saturday Rheinland 2023 Sessionize Event

June 2023 Sankt Augustin, Germany

SQLBits 2023 - General Sessions Sessionize Event

March 2023 Newport, United Kingdom

Power BI Next Step 2022 Sessionize Event

September 2022 Billund, Denmark

Data Insight Summit Sessionize Event

September 2022 Chicago, Illinois, United States

Mathias Thierbach

Data Platform MVP, Power BI Contributor, Developer of pbi-tools

London, United Kingdom

Please note that Sessionize is not responsible for the accuracy or validity of the data provided by speakers. If you suspect this profile to be fake or spam, please let us know.

Jump to top