If you work in Power BI on daily basis or work with Business Intelligence projects with other data visualization tools, you should follow the Power BI features update summary update Microsoft releases each month.
Keeping up with the latest Power BI features update is important to:
- enhance your Power BI reports and Power BI dashboards,
- make the development of Power BI solutions more efficient than ever before,
- know how the Business Intelligence or data analytics tools are being developed and decide if it is not high time to change data visualization tools provider.
In their monthly update Microsoft is very specific about each new Power BI new feature. They provide detailed instructions on where to find it and how to use it.
Microsoft Power BI features announced are always split into multiple categories. These are: Power BI Services, Power BI mobile app, data analysis, data transformation features, or custom visualizations from third parties.
Nevertheless, in this article we have decided to focus exclusively on Power BI reporting, modeling and analytics features. As a result, we have looked into these Microsoft Power BI updates, tried them out, and will share insights from the end users perspective in one extensive article.
Let’s then dive in and check what brand-new Power BI features for the first quarter of the year 2023 has brought in terms of reporting, modeling and analytics capabilities and how you can use them to create reports, create visualizations and increase the usability of your Power BI solutions for end users.
Power BI features update in reporting
Conditional formatting based on string fields
Before the change, once you chose the “Rules” format style in Conditional formatting, you were only able to add numeric summarization of the chosen field.
From now on, you can also add First/Last summarization, which enables to format different visuals based on string fields. Microsoft enabled multiple comparator options, such as:
- “starts with”,
- “ends with”,
- “does not contain” etc.
As a result, you can produce more effective data visualization and enhance storytelling of your Power BI reports. Keep in mind, though, to enter exact character matches, as the checker is case-sensitive.
Page navigator customization in Power BI
Another useful update that Microsoft added to Power BI app is the possibility to customize visible and hidden pages in the Page Navigator using brand-new toggles.
To turn on Page Navigator in Power BI Desktop, you need to go: Insert > Buttons > Navigation > Page navigator. This Power BI functionality enables you to build interactive page navigation menus with one click no matter how many pages your report has.
Once created, you can use right-side menu to customize the page navigator to your needs:
New buttons – Apply & Clear all slicers
To meet the expectations of Power BI users, Microsoft added two new buttons:
- Apply all slicers,
- Clear all slicers.
You can add both from the Insert ribbon > Buttons > Apply/Clear all slicers. You can also choose them as an action on any existing button in your report. Moreover, you can add Apply all slicers buttons from the Optimize ribbon > Apply all slicers button.
Once you add at least one of these buttons to your Power BI report, all the slicers on your report page will take selection changes but apply them to the other report visuals when a user clicks the button. Unlike the single apply button on slicers, the Apply on slicers button will allow you to make selection across numerous slicers and apply them with one click.
Visual container improvements
Moreover, Microsoft added to Power BI a few visual container improvements, such as:
- Subtitle – turn it on to add extra context to your data visualization (new toggle is available in Title settings),
- Divider – use it to separate visual header from its contents (also in the Title settings cards),
- Spacing – control the space below each component (Title settings card),
- Padding – control the container’s margin to create negative space making visuals more appealing.
Power BI themes upgrade
There was also added a few useful customizations to Power BI themes, such as:
- Option to update base themes in Power BI,
- Possibility to check if your custom theme conforms to Power BI’s standards by validation. This feature checks if it can read full Power BI content of your custom theme. Moreover, it shows you which fields are invalid,
- Brand-new accessible Power BI report themes with good contrasts across colors.
Other Power BI reporting features improvements
Apart from the above Power BI features update, there were added a few minor ones, mostly data visualization tools, that can also enhance the development experience of a Power BI dashboard or Power BI report.
Formatting image width in table and matrix
Instead of a single control for image dimensions in table and matrix cells, now you can adjust images width and height in tables and matrix cells separately.
Text box visual indentation
From now on, when you create visualizations in text box you can adjust indentations of specific lines.
Smart Narrative visual summary icon
The Smart narrative icon was added to the visual header in Power BI. It triggers an on-demand summary of the visual contents that can increase the accessibility of your Power BI reports.
It is a highly custom visualization. By using dynamic values and mapping text to existing fields or use natural language you can define new measures to map to text.
New styling of the format pane
The new format pane in Power BI is darker and have borders instead of drop shadows when OS setting.
Power BI reporting preview features
Sensitivity labels now supported in PDF export from Desktop
When you export PDF from Power BI Desktop, the sensitivity label on the pbix file (if any is added) is applied to the exported PDF file. As a result, it guarantees that your sensitive data remains protected.
Enhanced row-level security editor
Moreover, from now on you can quickly and easily define row-level security roles and filters in Power BI without having to write any DAX functions.
You can select ‘Manage roles’ in the Power BI app ribbon to use the new drop-down interface to create and edit security roles. If you prefer DAX or require DAX for your filter definitions, you can use toggles between using the default drop-down and DAX editor.
On-object interaction (Opt-in)
This Power BI feature was added to build and format your visuals to increase UX experience when building visuals. Once enabled, you will be building your visual on the canvas instead of the right side of the screen in the fields pane:
To try it out, you need to go to File > Options and settings > Options > Preview features > On-object interaction.
Dynamic format strings for measures
Another new preview feature in Power BI app is dynamic formatting strings for measures:
- Before you could only provide a static format string to each measure (currency, whole number, decimal, “dd MM yy” etc.).
- From now on you can create format string using a DAX expression.
As a result, you can adjust the format string to a variety of contexts within a Power BI report. For example, it can be useful for currency conversion.
You can add a dynamic format string to a measure by clicking the measure in the Date pane and choosing dynamic in the tools ribbon Format dropdown. Then you will be able to change the static format string corresponding to the previous Format and change it to dynamic format string.
In fact, dynamic format strings are not new in Power BI. If you are familiar with calculation groups in SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Services and Power BI using external tools, you possibly know calculation items have dynamic format strings.
From now on, you can use the same dynamic format string DAX patterns in individual measures in Power BI.
New tooltip auto-scale
Finally, when speaking of reporting preview features, users can tooltips to auto-scale based on the canvas’ size under Options > Report settings > Tooltip auto-scale.
Power BI features updates in analytics
Quick creation of SDK
The new form of Power BI embedded analytics enables you to embed an interactive data exploration and report creation experience in your applications.
Update to Quick measure suggestions (Preview)
This Power BI feature was changed from experimental to preview (it is enabled by default, so you don’t need to change your preferences in Power BI options).
With this functionality Power BI offers developers a possibility to generate numerous calculations and business logic for many different measure scenarios including time intelligence, math, text operations, if conditions and so on.
As a result, it can boost analyst productivity, help business users uplevel their data analytical skills and extract insights from different reports in more efficient way.
Power BI features update in modeling
Composite models on Power BI Datasets and Analysis Services models
Composite models on Power BI datasets are not brand-new feature in Power BI. Nevertheless, they finally became generally available, fully supported on Power BI Premium, PPU and new Power BI Pro workspaces and are no longer a preview feature.
This capability allows you to combine both small and large datasets coming from two different DirectQuery data sources, data coming from DirectQuery and import data or any combination of these (multiple data sources). It gives you great flexibility in terms of storage, performance, and data analysis.
New functions in DAX
LINEST & LINESTX
There were also added new DAX functions to perform linear regression, leverage the least squares method, or calculate a straight line that best fits the given data and return a table.
These functions can turn out especially useful in predicting unknown values (Y) given known values (X).
The difference between LINEST and LINESTX is that LINEST expects columns of known X and Y values to be provided, whereas LINESTX expects a table and expressions to be evaluated for each row of the table to obtain the X and Y values.
RANK and ROWNUMBER
If you have experience with SQL window functions, RANK and ROWNUMBER must sound familiar.
Just like in SQL query, in Power BI these functions return a number indicating the rank for the current context within the specified partition, sorted by the specified order.
The difference is that when there is a tie (two rows would get the same rank):
- ROWNUMBER will return an error,
- RANK will assign the same RANK multiple times.
Both rely on the ORDERBY and PARTITIONBY functions.
ORDERBY is not a new function in Power BI. Nonetheless, from now on it accepts any DAX expression as the first parameter (before it accepted only a column name.
Editing data models in Power BI Service (Preview)
The latest Power BI feature that was announced last week as a preview feature. In fact, it is on the boundary of modelling and service capabilities.
Up until now you were only able to modify data models in the model view in Power BI Desktop. Microsoft Power BI has decided to shake things up and introduce model editing in the Service. Consequently, users can view and modify their existing models on the web.
The preview feature is automatically enabled for datasets stored in My Workspace. Nevertheless, you can enable it in the collaborative Power BI workspaces as well. Once done, you can enter the modelling experience in Service in edit mode clicking on the open data model:
Then, you can modify your model by:
- creating and editing DAX measures, calculated columns, and calculated tables,
- creating and editing relationships,
- adding row-level security roles and rules,
- editing properties for data fields,
- create new reports based on your Power BI data model.
As you can see, you can significantly impact the data. Nevertheless, you cannot transform existing Power Query transformations on tables from a data source or multiple sources.
It is crucial, though, to remember that all changes made to your Power BI data model are automatically saved. As a result, they are permanent and there is no option to undo them. There is no version history to look up, or a new branch created. Look out then what changes you make and what impact they have on your model and reports based upon it.
Keep in mind also that to edit data model in Power BI Service, a user must have write and build permissions.
Power BI features update – summary
All in all, the beginning of the year has resulted in a few useful releases of Power BI features. Most of them are already generally available. Nevertheless, it is also worthwhile to try out preview functionalities and provide feedback to Microsoft to help make Power BI features in reporting, modelling and analytics even more useful and user-friendly.
If you are interested what’s new in Power BI Mobile app, Service, or Paginated reports, check out our next Power BI article. Moreover, if you work with Power BI Datamarts, you can also check 2023 Power BI Datamarts update we have prepared as well.