April is an exciting month for Power BI Desktop! Our April update has major updates across the entire product.
Amanda Cofsky, Program Manager
This release adds the ability to define the titles of your visuals and the URLs of your buttons based on DAX expressions, which is only our first step towards making every property of a visual expression-based. You can also now easily link reports within a workspace together with across-report drillthrough support. We have a lot of new connectors this month and several of our preview connectors are now generally available, including the Power BI dataflows and PDF connectors. Data prep gets some major updates as well with the GA of data profiling and M intellisense.
Here’s the complete list of April updates:
- Conditional formatting for visual titles
- Conditional formatting for web URL actions for buttons, shapes, and images
- Drillthrough across reports
- Key Influencers visual now supports continuous analysis for numeric targets
- Python support is now generally available
- Partial synonym matching for terms in Q&A
- Power BI dataflows connector now generally available
- Oracle Essbase connector now supports DirectQuery and is generally available
- PDF connector now generally available
- Web By Example connector – automatic table inference
- Intersystems IRIS connector
- Indexima connector
- Luminis InformationGrid
- Solver BI360
- Data Profiling enhancements and general availability
- Fuzzy merge performance enhancements & general availability
- M Intellisense supported in formula bar and custom column dialog & is generally available
For a summary of the major updates, you can watch the following video:
Filter pane improvements
Support for full filter pane editing
We’ve now added support for full editing of the new filter pane. You can add and remove fields to filter on, change the filter state, control the visibility of the pane and filter cards, and lock filter cards all within the new filter pane.
Since the new filter pane now has full editing ability, when you are using the preview, you no longer see the old filter pane at all in the visualization pane.
Ability to rename filters
When you’re editing the filter pane, you can now double click the title to edit it. This is a good way to make the filter card names more understandable for your end users.
Filter pane scales with the report page
To maintain proportion between the report page and the filter pane, the new filter pane will now scale with the report page and visuals.
Restrict ability to change filter type
Under the Filtering experience section of the report settings you now have an option to control if consumers of your report can change the filter type. With this setting off, your report consumers won’t have access to the dropdown to switch between the basic and advanced types of filters.
Improved filter pane accessibility
We’ve improved the keyboard navigation for the new filter pane. You can tab through every part of the filter pane and use the context key on your keyboard or Shift+F10 to open the context menu.
Watch the following video to learn more about the filter pane improvements:
Conditional formatting for visual titles
Since the initial release of Power BI, you’ve been able to customize the titles of your visuals, but they’ve always been static text.
Since Power BI reports are interactive, it makes sense that you may want your titles to be dynamic and reflect the current state of the report. You can now use the conditional formatting dialog to change the text of your report based on a DAX expression in your model.
First, you’ll need to create a field in your model to use for your title. For example, here’s an expression that will change based on the filter context the visual receives for the product Brand name. One thing to note is that this field needs to be formatted as text.
Then launch the conditional formatting dialog by right-clicking the “Title text” area in the property pane card and picking Conditional formatting.
Then in the dialog, select a text field from your model. This can be a column or a measure.
Now the visual’s title will respond to changes in the report.
Once such a title is set, you can re-launch the dialog by clicking the fx button in the property pane or revert to the default using the context menu.
Watch the following video to learn more about conditionally formatting titles:
Conditional formatting for web URL actions for buttons, shapes, and images
You can also use the same expression-bound formatting to make the URLs of your buttons dynamic! It’s set up the exact same way as titles. This can be very useful if you want users to navigate to other webpages with URL parameters based off their current selection.
Over the coming months we’ll be rolling these conditional formatting options out to more properties on more visuals and give you more ways to set the expression. The goal is that you’ll be able to use rules, a measure or enter an expression directly in the dialog and use the result to format any property.
Watch the following video to learn more about conditionally formatting URLs for buttons:
Drillthrough across reports
We are extending our drillthrough feature, which up until now only worked between pages of a single report, to also reference other reports in a given workspace as well. The power of this feature is that you can no easily link up multiple reports. For example, you could create a summary report connected to a slimmed down dataset and set up drillthrough to deep detailed reports.
To set up this experience you’ll need to:
- Set up a drillthrough target page to be accessed from other reports within a workspace
- Allow a report to opt into seeing drillthrough pages outside of the report
To set up a drillthrough page so it can accessed from other reports within a workspace, all you need to do is turn on the Cross-report toggle in the drillthrough section of the visualization pane.
After that, all you need to do is enable the Cross-report drillthrough setting for all reports within a workspace that you want to point that cross-report drillthrough page. You can find this setting in the Report settings for the current file section of the Options dialog.
Once you’ve done that, any report can see the cross-report drillthrough pages within its workspace or app. Right clicking in a visual in a report will show the drillthrough page from another report if the fields in the visual match the drillthrough fields setup on the target page. The matching needs to be identical by both table name and column name, but doesn’t need to be the same dataset.
Watch the following video to learn more about drillthrough across reports:
Key Influencers visual now supports continuous analysis for numeric targets
You can now add numeric fields to the Analyze bucket of the field well and run a continuous analysis and find key influencers that cause that field to increase or decrease. This will work for numeric columns (including calculated columns) but measures are not yet supported.
In order to enable this analysis, you will need to explicitly turn it on after selecting the field to analyze. You can do this by going to the analysis card of the formatting pane and switching the analysis type to continuous instead of categorical.
Behind the scenes the visualization will run a linear regression and rank all the factors that the user selected as potential influencers. It will give insights about how much an explanatory factor increases or decreases the average of the metric being analyzing. In the example above we can see that when Class is Deluxe, the SalesAmount is on average $1.5K higher than when the Class is Regular or Economy.
To learn more about how to set up the key influencers visual and how it works, you can check out our documentation.
Watch the following video to learn more about continuous analysis for the Key Influencers visual:
Python support is now generally available
Thank you for all the great feedback during the preview period! Python is now generally available and can be used to create your models and visuals without needing to enable it.
Partial synonym matching for terms in Q&A
When using Q&A, you can now complete terms even if you only know part of it. Specifically, if you type a word or phrase that is part of a synonym of a field or table, you’ll see the synonym in the list of suggestions.
Watch the following video to learn more about partial synonym matching for Q&A:
New DAX function – ALLCROSSFILTERED
We’ve added another new DAX function this month, ALLCROSSFILTERED. This function can be used to remove filters on a table from other tables across direct or indirect many-to-many relationships.
The rainbowGauge partner-developed visual lets report authors create a 3-state gauge with different colors to represent each stage. You can add a min, max, target, and a value and color for each stage to the visual.
Power BI dataflows connector now generally available
We just recently announced that Power BI dataflows are generally available, and with that change, the connector to them in Power BI Desktop is also GA. Read all the details in our dedicated blog post.
Oracle Essbase connector now supports DirectQuery and is generally available
The Oracle Essbase connector has been in Beta for the past few months. Over this period, we’ve made incremental enhancements to it based on customer feedback.
With this month’s release, we’re adding DirectQuery Support so you can create DirectQuery-based reports that depend on data coming from Essbase. In addition, we’re making the connector Generally Available, which means it is now recommended for use in production scenarios.
Please note that, in order to refresh datasets that use this connector in the Power BI service, you will need to install the April Update for the On-premises data gateway, which will be released later this month. Stay tuned to the Power BI Blog for the monthly Gateway release announcement.
PDF Connector is now generally available
Another connector hitting General Availability this month is the PDF Files connector. This was the most requested connector in the Power BI Ideas Forum and, after a few months in Beta and a number of incremental enhancementsmade to the connector based on your feedback, we’re very glad to make it GA.
Please note that, in order to refresh datasets that use this connector in the Power BI service, you will need to install the April Update for the On-premises data gateway, which will be released later this month. Stay tuned to the Power BI Blog for the monthly Gateway release announcement. Support for Cloud-based PDF files (without requiring an On-premises data gateway) is also coming later this month.
Web By Example connector – automatic table inference
One of the most innovative and differentiating features introduced in Power BI over the last 12 months is the Web By Example connector. This connector allows customers to scrape data from HTML pages, supporting any data element on the page, beyond HTML tables, by providing sample values for what data would like to be extracted. You can learn more about the connector in our documentation article.
This month, we’re taking another paradigm-shifting step with this connector – We’re making the connector’s AI algorithm even smarter, so it can now automatically suggest tables based on HTML element repetition patterns.
After enabling the new Preview feature (“New web table inference”) from the Options dialog, suggested tables are exposed in a new folder within the Navigator dialog for the Web connector, saving you the need to provide sample output values in many common cases.
We’re looking forward to your feedback regarding this Preview feature, so that we can continue improving the AI algorithm that backs the Web By Example connector.
Intersystems IRIS connector
IRIS connector offers Power BI users seamless and high-performance access to the InterSystems IRIS Data Platform. Besides serving up relational tables through the ODBC driver, Power BI users can also tap into InterSystems IRIS BI cubes, leveraging the measures and dimensions defined in the data platform. This allows combining the best-in-class data visualization capabilities of Power BI with the excellent performance of InterSystems’ multidimensional OLAP option.
Indexima connectors from Power BI make it possible to query all Big Data directly on your data sources, in volumetrics of tens of billions of rows in just a few milliseconds.
The patent-pending technology is based on Hyperindex and is 1000 times faster than existing solutions. INDEXIMA scales from 10’s GBs to 100’s TBs data with sub-second response time.
Over the last years, Luminis has been successful with the InformationGrid: a Low Code Cloud platform for data-intensive applications. The InformationGrid offers you a resilient application platform that combines high developer productivity with fit-for-purpose persistence in an easy to manage, monitor and scaleable Cloud infrastructure.
BI360 provides a user-friendly Azure cloud-based data warehouse, budgeting and reporting solution with an easy integration to Power BI. Easily combine your data in the BI360 cloud-based data warehouse, enter budgets, forecasts, and KPIs into cloud-based input forms for your Power BI dashboards, and use BI360’s report writer to create highly formatted financial and operational reports, including currency conversion and consolidations.
The Paxata connector is now generally available and supported by the Paxata team. For those who might have missed the preview announcement, Paxata is a visually-dynamic, intuitive solution that enables business analytics to rapidly ingest, profile, and curate multiple raw datasets into consumable information in a self-service manner, greatly accelerating development of actionable business insights. In addition to empowering business analysts and SMEs, Paxata also provides a rich set of workload automation and embeddable data preparation as a service within other applications.
Data Profiling enhancements & general availability
Data Profiling allows you to easily find issues with your data within the Power Query Editor. In addition to the inline Column Quality bar and Value Distribution histograms, we’re releasing this month the Column Profiles pane. This pane provides deeper profiling capabilities for any given column, including:
- Column statistics – # of errors, empty, valid, duplicated and unique values. Value distribution measures such as Min/Max/Average/Median, etc.
- Column distribution – Larger size version of the inline value distribution histograms, also including the ability to Keep or Remove values, which will generate the corresponding Filter Rows step in your query (“Equals” / “Does Not Equal” filters).
Visibility for each of the Data Profiling elements can be controlled from the View tab.
Another feature recently introduced in this area is the ability to switch from Preview-based data profiles to applying profiles over an entire table. This option can be modified from the Status Bar in the bottom left of the Power Query Editor dialog.
Last but certainly not least, with this month’s release we’re declaring Data Profiling’s General Availability. We encourage you to turn on all of these capabilities and use them as part of your production-grade Power Query Editor work.
Watch the following video to learn more about data profiling:
Fuzzy Merge performance enhancements & general availability
Fuzzy Merge is another Smart Data Preparation feature introduced a few months ago. Fuzzy Merge allows you to apply Fuzzy Matching algorithms when comparing columns and try to find matches across tables being merged. You can read a very detailed description of this feature in our article.
This month we’re very glad to announce that Fuzzy Merge is now generally available. In addition, we’ve also making significant performance optimizations to this transformation, reducing both the Load Times as well as overall CPU memory usage. Your mileage may vary but based on our internal benchmarks we have observed up to a 60x performance boost in certain scenarios!
M Intellisense supported in formula bar and custom dialog & is generally available
M Intellisense provides you when writing M code within the Power Query Editor a seamless experience for discovering function names, function parameters, column names and many other UI enhancements (line numbers, syntax coloring, etc.).
With this month’s release, we’re adding M Intellisense support to the Formula Bar and Custom Column dialog, in addition to the previously supported Advanced Editor dialog. We’re also making M Intellisense generally available and enabled by default within all these UI surfaces in the Power Query Editor.
Note that if you wish to disable M Intellisense (which would make us sad!), you can do so from the Options dialog. If you decide to take this route, please let us know why so we can try to win you back as an M Intellisense user.
Watch the following video to learn more about M intellisense:
Power BI Paginated Report Builder
This past Friday we announced the initial release of Power BI Report Builder, a companion applications for Power BI for Paginated Report authoring. This free Windows desktop app will act as the primary authoring experience for paginated reports in the Power BI service going forward. You can read the dedicated blog post for more information.
That’s all for this month! We hope that you enjoy these updates and all the updates of the past year. Please continue sending us your feedback and don’t forget to vote for other features that you’d like to see in the Power BI Desktop. For any preview features, you can always give us your feedback in our active community. You can also download the .pbix file I used, and if you’re looking for a similar design for your reports, I was using the Microsoft layout from PowerBI.Tips.