What is Microsoft Power BI?
Power BI, a business analytics service that provides insights into data analysis and visualisation, is a consistently updated program. One of its perks is its ability to generate easy-to-read reports and dashboards with ease from excessive amounts of raw data. Power BI’s ability to explore and analyse data using creative and high-quality visuals sets it apart from other business intelligence solutions.
Microsoft as a company looks to continue innovating its approach to business intelligence, much like their approaches to software development, suites and operating systems. Their innovation has shattered the proverbial glass ceiling, and Power BI remains one of the most practical, prominent and intuitive programs as a part of Office 365, another industry gamechanger.
Naturally, this means that Power BI comes with regular updates to the internal applications and processes. Thus, whether you’re a Microsoft Power BI developer, or in information technology or analysis, you have new products, features and options at your disposal. In this blog, we’re going to run through the update in a bit more depth for you to get an understanding of what’s new this month.
Microsoft publish an in-depth analysis of Power BI’s monthly updates on their blog.
The September 2019 update encompasses the key areas:
- Data Connectivity
- Data Preparation
Did you know?
Microsoft regularly release software patches for its products and security updates, on the second and occasionally the fourth Tuesday of each month. This is known as “Patch Tuesday” or “Update Tuesday”.
Patch Tuesday typically begins at 5:00pm or 6:00pm GMT.
Microsoft implemented a regular, standardised delivery schedule for its security updates to move away from their previous method. This previous method was to ship each security fix once completed, which proved challenging for IT managers who had to deal with high-profile computer worms like Code Red and Sasser.
- Colour and text classes in themes
You can now edit and format many of the colours in your JSON file theme, without needing to modify visual styles. Foreground, background and tableAccent have expanded colour classes, meaning the choice is more diverse. Text classes have also been added. Primary text classes “Callout”, “Header”, “Title” and “Label” are the four main classes, with “Title” and “Label” offering secondary text classes that can be formatted individually. Each text class comes with associated visual objects.
- New default themes
New theme JSON options now have more default themes available to choose from in new and existing reports. The aim was to create more varied and diverse themes that align with Microsoft’s design language.
- Pane improvements
You can now unpin any default visuals in the personalised visualisation pane. This is good if you’re wanting to declutter panes or use a custom visual version. You do have the option of restoring once unpinned.
- Custom format strings
In the properties pane, you can now enter custom formats in the field to tailor how the field will be displayed in visuals. You can enter your own format string now or select from commonly used strings, both of which will immediately reflect in data view and report view.
- Conditional formatting for more visual options
In Microsoft’s quest to eventually being able to conditionally format everything in the formatting pane, they have made progress in allowing Border and Gauge colours as well as Alt Text to now allow conditional formatting.
- Drill through discoverability improvement
Following user feedback, text has now been added to the visual’s tooltip to show that it has been enabled.
- New DAX expressions
REMOVEFILTERS: removes filters inside the CALCULATE option
CONVERT: changes expression to another data type
- PowerApps visual guide available
PowerApps (the marketplace) allows you to embed apps into your dashboard or report straight away. The guide is more readily available and across more pages.
- PostgreSQL connector enhancements
The PostgreSQL connector now has the option to paste native queries inside once connected. DirectQuery support within PostgreSQL is fully available.
- Copy to clipboard from data profiling
It’s now possible to export data profiling information directly from Power Query Editor straight to the clipboard. The data copied will take the form of a table by default.
- Performance improvements for multi-dimensional models
Users of Analysis Services 2019 have been rewarded with more efficient query resolution, cross-highlighting support across tables, higher quality sampling for visuals, expand/collapse on row headers and measure execution optimisation. Otherwise known as “Super DAX”, this helps reduce issues between Power BI and Analysis Services.
- DirectQuery model improvements
Depending on the DAX expressions used, query performance will typically be more astute and quicker.
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