Welcome to the Power BI Monthly Digest for July! Here, Matt Peterson and I, cover and demo our top new features and updates to Power BI this month. Be sure to watch the video included at the end of the blog for some quick demos to see how these new additions work. There are a few big features this month I’m excited about, so let’s jump in!
1. Gradient capabilities
- When you’re using a bar, scatter, or column chart you can use conditional formatting so you can have a gradient to easily see any improvement or decline. Up to now, however, there was no kind of legend for those, so users wouldn’t know what the gradient changes were based on. Well, now we can add a legend. The demo will show you how to add conditional formatting to get that gradient feature and the new legend feature.
- If you have a bar chart, it’s nice to show how things have progressed over time with a gradient, by profit margin for example. To do this we select the chart and go over to the formatting section and then define our colors under Data Colors. Next, to show a gradient effect to the default color, you can add an expression based off a measure (in our demo we use total sales). We could have just as easily added a measure like profit margin that was not part of the original visual.
- But how does a user know what the gradient colors mean? There’s a new Legend button in the format section and all you need to do is turn that on and a legend showing the proper scale of your gradient will be shown on your chart. A simple improvement but a big impact to user clarity, especially when formatting off a measure not in the visual.
- This month they’ve added a new slicer header capability. Your header can be dynamic, and you can store what things are being selected in the title of the slicer as well. This change is pretty useful and much better than what we’ve had in the past. This one is better to show than discuss so be sure to check out the demo on our video.
- We showed the release of this time slicer a month or two ago, and this has now been made generally available. With this new slicer, if you have data that has a date/time stamp, you can take the time and extract it from the date and use that inside a slicer.
- With Q&A we’ve always had the capability to train/teach the Q&A with synonyms or certain fields, but we had to go to different places to do so. Now they’ve put this all in the settings of the Q&A visual.
- When you add a Q&A box, one new thing we see when we click on settings in the Q&A box is a tab called Field Synonyms. Here you can add terms people might use as synonyms for the fields and tables in your data. A new column has been added called Include in Q&A. Here, you can now decide if a table of data is included in the Q&A or not.
- Another new enhancement is around terms and suggested terms. When you drop down a field, you’ll see a list of both; in Q&A terms will get priority over a suggested terms. Suggested terms are generated by Power BI from terms it has seen in past Q&A searches. You can now go through and click ‘x’ to delete a suggested term that you don’t want to be included. Or if there’s one you’d like to add over to show your end user right away, you simply click the ‘+’ and it will move from suggested to a priority term.
- What if you have a synonym you’d like to add? Simply click the add button under terms and add whatever term you’d like to show up in the Q&A feature. There are also a couple other little changes that you can see in our demo.
- This is a new visual (in preview) which goes much more in detail than the basic map feature. But one restriction that’s important to point out is that Azure Maps requires you to have the latitude and longitude for your locations, just cities and states won’t do here.
- You’ll find this new visual as the Azure icon in Visualizations. We’ll see a latitude and longitude field where we’ll need to add the data fields. When we add those in our example, we’ll get a map and all the cities in our table will be marked and we can hover over a city and see its latitude and longitude.
- In my case I want to see where my banks have failed so I’ll bring bank name from my table and put it in the Size field. Now the size of the bubbles has changed based on the number of banks that have failed in that city. I also add city into the legends field which will change the colors of the bubbles in my map based on the cities. Of course, you can go into formatting and change the min and max size of the bubbles and add an outline.
- At the top we can choose how we want to see the map layers. Another cool thing is we can change the pitch alignment and with holding down the right-click of the mouse we can change the view of the visual as far as pitch and rotation. We can also turn off the bubbles and turn on bar chart and our map will now show our data by cities with various bar heights and colors. You can even add a traffic layer!
- This is an exciting new visual with lots more to show, this is definitely one you’ll want to see in our demo and take some time to play around with in preview!
- Many people begin to explore some third-party tools after working with the Power BI Desktop for a while. Until now, these third-party tools were set apart from the Desktop and not brought into Power BI, since, well… they are third-party, not Microsoft.
- The big news on this one, the Power BI team has opened the Power BI Desktop so you can now launch some third-party tools inside of the Desktop. Some popular ones included are DAX Studio, Tabular Editor, and the ALM Toolkit. These are easy to launch and integrate into Power BI. You’ll see a new ribbon for the external tools that are available to you. There are also some notes in the Power BI announcement blog the can guide you around any issues you may have with these.
- This is great news as allowing us to use these in Power BI will enable us to have some capability we didn’t have before. I’ll walk you through some of these in the demo.
- This month Power BI has added about 50 new DAX formulas, mainly around financial processes you would use in Excel.
- There are some updates here where you can now look at the model view when using a live connection into Analysis Services (multi-dimensional or Tabular) or into the Power BI dataset. In the past, we did not have that model view.
- Something new here is data type detection. When we connect to a data source and try to pull it into the Power Query Editor, Power BI will try to make its best guess to detect the data types of those columns. Sometimes it gets it right and sometimes not (especially with zip codes!).
- In the past, we could turn this off, but only in the Power BI file we were currently in. They’ve now made this a global feature. Simply go under the File menu to Options and Settings and select Data Load under Global (instead of Current File). Then, whenever you open the Power BI Desktop, it will remember that you don’t want it to detect data types.
So, lots of neat things added this month – Power BI will always keep you learning, that’s for sure! Let me know in the comments below what some of your favorite new features or enhancements are.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
• Microsoft MVP • Leads all training programs for Pragmatic Works • Business Intelligence consultant with work experience building SQL Server data warehouses • Experience building SharePoint BI solutions with Excel Services, PowerPivot, PerformancePoint, Reporting Services and Power View • Work daily with entire BI stack: SSIS, SSAS, SSRS for SQL Server • Speaking history at multiple SQL Saturdays, SQL Rally and PASS Summit • Planned and implemented Both proof of concepts and full production ready BI solutions. • Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS) member • Leads the Jacksonville SQL Server User Group • Author of 6 SQL Server books
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