Organize and share your content with folders in Amazon QuickSight

QuickSightFolders1.png

Amazon QuickSight Enterprise Edition now supports folders for organization and sharing content. Folders in QuickSight are of two types:

  • Personal folders – Allow individual authors and administrators to organize assets for their personal ease of navigation and manageability
  • Shared folders – Allow authors and administrators to define folder hierarchies that they can share across the organization and use to manage user permissions and access to dashboards, analyses, and datasets

You can access folders directly from shortcuts on the new QuickSight home page (see the following screenshot). In this post, we take a deeper look at folders and how you can implement this in your QuickSight account.

Asset permissions and folders

Before we dive into how the two types of folders work, let’s understand how asset permissions work in QuickSight. QuickSight assets (dashboards, analyses, and datasets) are created by authors or admins, reside in the cloud, and by default are permissioned to be visible from the UI to only the owner, which in this case is the creator of the asset. The owner can share the asset with other users (authors or admins, or in the case of dashboards, readers) or groups of users. When the asset needs to be shared, QuickSight allows the owner to share with specific users or groups of users, who can then be provided viewer or owner access.

Previously, these flows meant that admins and authors who have hundreds of assets have to manage permissions for users and groups individually. There was no hierarchical structure to easily navigate and discover key assets available. We built personal folders to solve the need for organization for authors and admins, while shared folders provide easier bulk permissions management for authors and discovery of assets for both authors and readers.

Personal folders are available to all authors and admins in QuickSight Enterprise Edition. You can create these folders within your user interface and add assets in them. Personal folders aren’t visible to other users within the account, and they don’t affect the permissions of any objects placed within. This means that if you create a personal folder called Published dashboards and add a dashboard to it, there are no changes to user permissions in the dashboard on account of its addition to this folder. An important difference here is that unlike traditional folders, QuickSight allows you to place the same asset in multiple folders, which avoids the need to replicate the same asset in different folders. This allows you to update one time and make sure all your stakeholders get the latest information.

The following screenshot shows the My folders page on the QuickSight console.

Shared folders in QuickSight are visible to permissioned users across author, admin, and reader roles in QuickSight Enterprise Edition. Top (root)-level shared folders can only be created by admins of the QuickSight account, who can share these with other users or groups. When sharing, folders offer two levels of permissions:

  • Owner access – Allows admins or authors with access to the folder to add and remove assets (including subfolders), modify the folder itself, and share as needed with users or groups.
  • Viewer access – Restricts users to only viewing the folder and contents within, including subfolders. Readers can only be assigned viewer access, and can see the Shared folders section when at least one folder is shared with them.

The following screenshot shows the Shared folders page.

The following screenshot shows the Share folder pop-up window, which you use to choose who to share folders with.

Permissions granted to a user or group at a parent folder level are propagated to subfolders within, which means that owners of a parent folder have access to subfolders. As a result, it’s best to model your permissions tree and folder structure before implementing and sharing folders in your account. Users who are to be restricted to specific folders are best granted access at the lowest level possible.

Folder permissions are currently also inherited by the assets within. For example, if a dashboard is placed in a shared folder, and Sally is granted access to the folder as an owner, Sally now has ownership over the folder and the dashboard. This model allows you to effectively use folders to manage shared permissions across thousands of users without having to implement this on a per-user or per-asset level.

For example, a team of 10 analysts could have owner permissions to a shared folder, which allows them to own both the folder and contents within, while thousands of other users (readers, authors, and admins) can be granted viewer permissions to the folder. This ensures that permissions management for these viewers can be done by the one-time action of granting them viewer permissions over the folder, instead of granting these permissions to users and groups within each dashboard. Permissions applied at the individual asset level continue to be enforced, and the final permissions of a user is the combination of the folder and individual asset permissions (whichever is higher).

Shared folders also enforce a uniqueness check over the folder path, which means that you can’t have two folders that have the same name at the same level in the folder tree. For example, if the admin creates /Oktank/ and shares with Tom and Sally as owners, and Tom creates /Oktank/Marketing/, Sally can no longer create a folder with the name Marketing. She should coordinate with Tom on permissions and get Tom to share this folder as an owner so that she can also contribute to the marketing assets. For personal folders (and for other asset types including dashboards, analyses, and datasets), QuickSight doesn’t require such uniqueness.

With QuickSight Enterprise Edition, dashboards, analyses, and datasets—whether owned by a user or shared with them—exist within the user’s QuickSight account and can be accessed via the asset-specific details page or search. All assets continue to be displayed via these pages, while those added to specific folders become visible via the folders view.

Use case: Oktank Analytics

Let’s put this all together and look from the lens of how a fictional customer, Oktank Analytics, can set up shared folders within their account. Let’s assume that Oktank has three departments: marketing, sales, and finance, with the sales team subdivided into US and EU orgs. Each of these departments and sub-teams has their own set of analysts that build and manage dashboards, and departmental users that expect to see data pertaining to their functional area. Oktank also has C-level executives that need access to dashboards from each department. Finally, QuickSight administrators oversee the overall business intelligence solution.

To implement this in QuickSight and provide a scalable model, the admin team first creates the top-level folder /Oktank/ and grants viewer access to the C-level executives. This grants the leadership team access to all subfolders underneath, making sure that there are no access issues. Access is also limited to viewer, so that the leadership has visibility but can’t accidentally make any changes.

Next, the admin team creates subfolders for marketing, sales, and finance. Both the admins and C-level executives have access to these folders (as owner and viewer, respectively) due to their permissions on the top-level folder.

The following diagram illustrates this folder hierarchy.

Oktank admins grant owner permissions to the Marketing folder to the marketing analyst team (via QuickSight groups). This allows the analyst team to create subfolders that match expectations of their users and leadership. To streamline access, the marketing analyst team creates two subfolders: Assets and Dashboards. The marketing analyst team uses Assets (/Oktank/Marketing/Assets/) to store datasets and analyses that they need to build and manage dashboards. Because all the marketing analysts have access to this folder, critical assets aren’t disrupted when an analyst is on vacation or leaves the company. Marketing analysts have owner permissions, the admin team has owner permissions, and C-level executives have viewer permissions.

The marketing analyst team uses the Dashboards folder to store dashboards that are shared to all marketing users (via QuickSight groups). All marketing users are granted viewer permissions to this folder (/Oktank/Marketing/Dashboards/); marketing analysts grant themselves owner permissions while the admin team and C-level executives have owner and viewer permissions propagated. For marketing users, access to this folder means that all the dashboards relevant to their roles can be explored in /Oktank/Marketing/Dashboards/, which is available through the Shared Folders link on the home page. The marketing analyst team also doesn’t have to share these assets individually or worry about permissions being missed out for specific users or dashboards.

The sales team needs further division because US and EU have different teams and data. The admin team creates the Sales subfolder, and then creates US and EU subfolders. They grant US sales analysts owner access to the US subfolder (/Oktank/Sales/US/), which gives the analysts the ability to create subfolders and share with users as appropriate. This allows the US sales analyst team to create /Oktank/Sales/US/Assets and /Oktank/Sales/US/Dashboards/. Similar to the marketing team, they can now store their critical datasets, analyses, and dashboards in the Assets folder, and open up the Dashboards folder to all US sales personnel, providing a one-stop shop for their users. The C-level executives have reader access to these folders and can access these assets and anything added in the future.

Admins and C-level executives see the following hierarchy in their shared folder structure; admins have owner access to all, and C-level executives have viewer access:

Oktank

Oktank > Marketing

Oktank > Marketing > Assets

Oktank > Marketing > Dashboards

Oktank > Sales

Oktank > Sales > US

Oktank > Sales > US > Assets

Oktank > Sales > US > Dashboards

Oktank > Sales > EU

Oktank > Sales > EU > Assets

Oktank > Sales > EU > Dashboards

Oktank > Finance

Oktank > Finance > Assets

Oktank > Finance > Dashboards

A member of the marketing analyst team sees the following:

Oktank

Oktank > Marketing

Oktank > Marketing > Assets

Oktank > Marketing > Dashboards

A member of the Oktank marketing team (e.g., marketing manager) sees the following:

Oktank

Oktank > Marketing

Oktank > Marketing > Dashboards

A member of the US Sales analyst team sees the following:

Oktank

Oktank > Sales

Oktank > Sales > US

Oktank > Sales > US > Assets

Oktank > Sales > US > Dashboards

A member of the Oktank US Sales team (e.g., salesperson) sees the following:

Oktank

Oktank > Sales

Oktank > Sales > US

Oktank > Sales > US > Dashboards

Conclusion

QuickSight folders provide a powerful way for admins and authors to organize, manage, and share content while being a powerful discovery mechanism for readers. Folders are now generally available in QuickSight Enterprise Edition in all supported QuickSight Regions.

 


About the Author

Jose Kunnackal John is principal product manager for Amazon QuickSight, AWS’ cloud-native, fully managed BI service. Jose started his career with Motorola, writing software for telecom and first responder systems. Later he was Director of Engineering at Trilibis Mobile, where he built a SaaS mobile web platform using AWS services. Jose is excited by the potential of cloud technologies and looks forward to helping customers with their transition to the cloud.

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