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Power BI Monthly Digest - August

Power BI Monthly Digest - August

Power BI MonthlyIf you’ve been following this series, you know that each month we dive into the new releases from Power BI and we like to focus on the things we think will make the most impact. This month we’ll include the release of the #1 requested feature! Be sure to watch the video for a quick demo of each new feature we discuss here.

OK, here’s what’s new and exciting:

1. Bookmarking Groups – When creating bookmarks, there are basically two approaches - navigational bookmarks where we have an image, for example, that links you to something else – it navigates you within the report. Then we have other bookmarks that are meant for more of a storytelling perspective.

Up to now, although we can divide bookmarks into these 2 categories, when we look at the bookmark pane, we’ve had to put all the bookmarks into one bin. Wouldn’t it be good to store these different approaches in different places? Now we can do just that, giving you a better way to organize your bookmarks by navigational and storytelling.

2. Next is the #1 requested feature (drumroll please) – exporting reports to a PDF. Many of you may work with or for people who love to have reports printed and put in their hands, but there has not been a great way to do this. Now from the Power BI Desktop, we can export reports to a PDF and print them, quickly and easily. And when doing this, it will not print your wallpaper, only the report pages and if any of your report pages are marked are hidden, these will be excluded.

3. Themes are now generally available – The purpose of themes is to standardize your design process. These have been in Preview for quite a while but are now generally available. Again, check out our video for a quick look at themes. A cool thing to point out here is they’ve added a Theme file (an advanced file I’d call it) where you can literally define every asset of every single visual type, so you can specify colors or fonts for maps, bar charts, or whatever. So, you can standardize your report process across the entire enterprise.

4. Slicer restatement – A simple addition to an ‘oldie but goody’ here. If you have a slicer with a drop-down slicer style, when you select something from the drop down we can readily see it, so we can easily understand what filter has been applied. But if we click on List, we just got a list. What has been added is the ability to visibly list what has been applied in this filter.

In the past we’d have to scroll through the whole list to see what has been selected. Now we can go into the properties of the slicer and under Format/Slicer Header, we can go to Filter Restatement. When this is turned on, we can see above our list which ones have been selected instead of having to scroll through the list.

5. Conditional Formatting by Values – These are more enhancements added since we talked about this a few months ago. This new feature is conditional formatting by field value. With conditional formatting, we’re using some coloration and metric or form of evaluation to decide about performance or a KPI to easily display this. So, if we’re evaluating based on profits, for instance, we can use coloration to easily see if performance is good or bad.

What’s been added is we can leverage some conditional logic and look at a column and format it by the column value, basically a color from a field – so the field value will return back a color name or text color, either a literal string value, blue for example, or the hex representation of a color and that dictates how it should be colored. This will also be updated as data gets refreshed or surpasses or goes below the thresholds you’ve set. Check out the video of how to use this new feature.

6. Python integration is now in Preview. Another widely requested feature for those that write a lot of R code. Under Options you’ll see Python Scripting (or you can follow the same course as R set up) where you list the directories and the IDE that needs to open. With this little initial set up, it’s on and in place. You’ll now see under the Visualization section a Python visuals icon and you can leverage this using things like ggplot and all these types of libraries that allow for these data visualizations, so you can take advantage of this directly inside of Power BI.

You can also use this when bringing in data. Simply click on Get Data and Python script and you can easily put in Python script. If you haven’t been using Python, this language is frequently used for data science and analysis, so we can now do data cleansing and statistical analysis with some strong functionality done with Python that is not natively available inside Power BI. You can also use Python in the Query Editor to do Transforms in Python for data cleansing and data replacement.

7. Q&A inside the Power BI Desktop is now generally available. This allows you to ask questions of your data interactively within your reports just like you can in the Power BI Service.

8. Last but certainly not least, Data Categories on Measures. You’ve likely worked with Data Categories if you’ve worked with geography fields or links that need to be marked as a URL. We can now leverage calculated measures, so if you have a measure value that’s effectively populating a URL, you can actually have that link to click on inside your Power BI Report, instead of it showing up simply as text in the past. Plus, not only can you click on it in your report on the desktop, but that clickable link will also be on your exported PDF when using the feature we talked about earlier.

Hope you enjoyed our top August Power BI updates. Please take a moment to comment below and tell us what you like about the new updates and what you’re excited about. And remember to share with us any great use cases or cool examples you’ve tried, and we may showcase them in our monthly digest. See you next month!


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