Microsoft Power BI’s update last month brought a wide range of new additions and improvements. Performance enhancements for DirectQuery and multi-dimensional models, a few more extras to the DAX expression library, and a visual guide for data visualisation in PowerApps were only a few of the updates for Power BI for the month of September.
In Microsoft’s continued quest to make Power BI Desktop even more transparent, multifunctional and innovative, the program’s monthly updates provide enhancements to all the tools within the business analytics service. The internal applications, processes and analytics are consistently getting more updates, features and options by the month in an attempt to remain competitive and improve its overall functionality as a business intelligence solution. It’s no wonder why the uses of Power BI are becoming more widespread, by businesses of all sizes.
Now, Microsoft’s feature summary for October’s Power BI Desktop update highlights significant improvements in several areas, similarly to September’s update.
The October 2019 update includes enhancements in:
- Data Connectivity
- Data Preparation
- Template Apps
Automatic page refresh for DirectQuery
You can now set refresh intervals of visuals in your report, when using a DirectQuery source. This is a form of real-time experience which will allow consumers to monitor the latest reports more frequently, and regularly.
The new Q&A visual
This is a full visual experience for consumers of reports. The visual can fully interact and be themed in the same way as general visuals. The Q&A visual brings up an input box where questions can be typed, with suggestions alongside. These visuals can be used as an authoring tool as well.
Improved Q&A user experience
In the aforementioned input box in the Q&A visual, there is now a drop-down feature to allow you to select auto-suggestions as you type. Red underlines will pop up with unknown terms, and blue underlines will appear under terms if they are the same as in the data model.
Q&A Natural Language improvements
The Modelling pane inside the Q&A window now has row label and synonym support, both of which you can define that Q&A can then use. Q&A has now been integrated with Microsoft Office and Bing data to understand common terms. Additionally, disconnected tables have greater involvement and understanding from Q&A.
You can now use tooling to see how other users are utilising the Q&A visual and subsequently, improve the results they’re getting.
Support for SSAS and Azure AS
Q&A now fully supports SQL Server Analysis Services and Azure AS, allowing you to connect to your data without the need to import it into Power BI beforehand.
Did you know?
Power BI has a fairly new function within the program, called UNICHAR(). This function accepts an integer that locks (maps) to the character you want displayed within your visual.
One of its uses is allowing non-text characters inside visuals. Say you’re wanting to create visuals to display variations in sales/performance in one table. By using, for example, arrow symbols to track whether performance is up, down or the same. Each symbol has a unique character, which can be typed in the brackets of the UNICHAR function in DAX code. With the column parameters set, the table will reflect the appropriate variation.
PowerApps visual is now a default inclusion
This speaks for itself really. Last month, the PowerApps visual became generally available and now, doesn’t need to be added from the marketplace. It is now alongside the rest of the built-in visuals.
New visuals in xViz
The xViz suite consists of visuals that aim to meet end-to-end business intelligence needs. The three new additions are: Hierarchical Variance Table, Linear Gauge and Tag Cloud.
Sagra Emigo connector is generally available
Inventory data, orders, survey answers as well as other digital forms are available through the Emigo Connector for Power BI Desktop.
Azure Cost Management updated
ACM allows users to explore and analyse Azure cost data extensively, and now comes with upgraded program compatibility and performance improvements.
New connector – Workplace Analytics
Using data from Office 365, Microsoft Workplace Analytics identifies collaboration patterns that impact productivity, engagement and effectiveness in the workplace.
This new feature allows you to determine what the Mashup Engine is doing. Additionally it allows you to understand the types of queries you’re emitting, background activity and what is slowing authoring refresh time.
Enhancements to data profiling
Within the Power Query Editor, now the Data Profiling allows multiple grouping options (within the Column Profile pane) as well as additional filter options.
Project Web App
This new template app consists of 13 visual report pages, allowing for deep analysis on specific projects used within the PWA data connector.
New ‘.PBIDS’ file format
These new files are recommended for commonly used connections to help other report authors get started in the Power BI Desktop files. Opening the file will open the program and a prompt for authentication will follow.
Modelling operations improvements
The Analysis Services program now has an enhanced engine which will effectively speed up adding measures, calculated columns, creating new relationships and so on.
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