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Creating and uploading exercise files for BI courses
Creating and uploading exercise files for BI courses

For BI SMEs: how to create and upload exercise files for RDEs.

Jess Ahmet avatar
Written by Jess Ahmet
Updated over a week ago


In remote desktop exercises, learners have to load exercise files: reports or workbooks, depending on if it's a Power BI or Tableau course.

Learners can make any changes they want to the reports or workbooks, which means there are many things that can happen that we can't control. They may remove parts of the data, clear sheets, or just leave for a day and then come back to find their virtual machine reset. This is why each exercise should have an exercise file to load corresponding to the start state of the exercise.

If students are building on top of previous exercises, at the bottom of each context section, in italics, should appear the following sentence: “If you lost progress, load the workbook n_m_keyword.pbix from the Workbooks folder on the Desktop.” where:

  • n is the chapter number

  • m is the exercise number (each exercise should have a number, increasing sequentially in order of appearance)

  • keyword is a keyword that makes it easier to identify the exercise. If there are multiple keywords, use lowercase and underscores between the words. E.g., 3_1_inner_circle.pbix.

In case the students need to open a new workbook, it should be mentioned explicitly in the first step of the exercise. E.g., Open workbook 1_1_loading_workbooks.pbix.

Guidelines and user experience impact

The learners will be taking the course on a virtual machine in a browser, and this is an important aspect to consider when building the course.


Each individual dataset behind an exercise file should be a maximum of 10MB. This is significantly smaller than most datasets, but it reduces the lag for students taking the course on a virtual machine and shouldn’t have any influence on the exercise. The total size of all datasets (fact + dimension tables) behind a workbook should be a maximum of 20MB.


We don’t know on which devices/screens the learners are taking the courses, so to be safe, we want to create a good user experience on a 13-inch laptop. Because of this, we want to avoid putting too many visualizations or too much information on the same page. Two to three visualizations are normally a good amount per page, but you can put more or less depending on the complexity of the visualizations. It's encouraged to instruct learners to add a new page when there are too many visualizations on the current page.

The text size of your BI theme should be put to 15 (instead of the normal 10) to increase the legibility of the reports.

Exercise file flow:

  • Each exercise file should start off where the previous VM exercise ended.

    • For a case study, this should occur throughout the course and all chapters.

    • For a normal course, this should occur per chapter at minimum.

  • When opening an exercise file at the start of a new exercise, learners should not see any new visuals, variables, tabs/sheets, or tables compared to how the previous exercise ends.

  • If, for any reason (i.e., dataset issues, learning objectives), a new exercise file has to be opened that contains new information, make sure this is clearly explained in the context of the exercise or the instructions.

  • Tip: When creating exercise files, work through the exercise steps just like a learner would and then save the workbook once all steps have been completed. This will be the starting exercise file for the next exercise.

File formats:

  • Ensure that the exercise files are saved in the correct format.

    • For Power BI, they should be .pbix

    • For Tableau, they should be .twbx

  • Note: Tableau files must be saved as packaged workbook files (.twbx). You will there have to make sure the first workbook file created with data loaded has the data extracted into the workbook. Reach out to your Content Developer if you have any questions on this.

Where to upload

In the GitHub repository of your course, there should be a folder named /exercises in the main directory. Upload the exercise files to this folder in the current working branch. The naming of the files should follow the naming convention described above.

DataCamp is responsible for uploading the exercise files onto the virtual machine used in courses.

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