Your alternatives to PDF export for Google Data Studio dashboards

Minhaz Kazi
Sep 13, 2018 · 4 min read
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Edit: PDF export feature was added to Data Studio in Oct 2018. Read more about that in my followup article.

PDF export is probably the most requested feature for Data Studio on the official feature request tracker. And as of Aug 2018, there isn’t any native PDF export option in Data Studio. So, no, you can’t directly export PDFs from your Data Studio report. But do you really need to? Let me explain why I think PDF reports aren’t always a good option.

Users often have very specific requirements for using PDFs. For example:

  • PDFs let me share my dashboard with stakeholders and higher ups.
  • PDFs give me more control over who I can share the dashboards with.
  • PDFs are easier — people do not have to log into their Google account.
  • I email out regular updates of sales or other KPI.
  • I want to send out monthly snapshots.
  • I want to keep static records.

Let’s see if we can resolve the core requirements behind these use cases without using PDFs.

Share the dashboards themselves

Setup Google Groups to manage access

Share by link for broader access

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Then, you can give the link to your users and they will not have to log in to view the dashboard.

Create report snapshots with custom bookmarks

Here you can see the total sales for the year and use the filter on the top left to see a monthly view. The awesome thing is, I can create links to a specific month’s view and share those links with others. Try one of these out: January, August, September. This way, folks can open the link and immediately see the data for the relevant month. But if they want to explore a bit more and see the other months, they don’t have to dig into their emails to find the last month’s PDF. They can simply edit the filter and view whichever month they want. You don’t have to create this dashboard every month. You can update the data at the source and send out the updated link.

One version of truth

So that’s it? No PDFs?

So the next time your manager wants a PDF report, maybe you can start by saying, “So I think I have a better solution to this…”

Edit: Read my follow up article to know more about Data Studio’s new PDF export feature and use cases for PDF.

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