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Power BI December 2020 Feature Summary

Headshot of article author Jeroen ter Heerdt

The last update of 2020 is here! We know you are excited for this update, like a kid excited to open their presents. This update is our holiday present to you!

So what is in the box? Well, first of all, not one, but two long-awaited features are now available in preview: Small multiples and DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services. We know the wait has been long, but the time is finally here to start using these features.

But wait, there are more gifts to unpack!

What about data protection sensitivity labels making their appearance in Power BI Desktop? Or a new Home List experience in the Service? Want to set a custom publish message? You got it. Dark mode support for our Android app? Done.

To top it off there are a couple of new visuals and template apps this month and updates in the data preparation, data connectivity, developers and embedded space. We even have a couple of pointers to what is coming soon.

Enough to keep you busy during the holidays. Speaking of which, due to the holidays, there will be no release in January. We wish you all safe and happy holidays as we close off 2020. We thank you for being part of our community this year and are looking forward to seeing you in 2021!

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Here is the full list of December updates:


Data preparation

Data connectivity





Template Apps


To see demos of the highlights, check out the video below.



DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services (preview)

In Nov 2018, we released composite models, which allow you to seamlessly add multiple DirectQuery sources and imported data to your models. We have heard your feedback that you would like to do this with sources you previously live connected to, like Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services sources.

We are excited to announce that DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services is now in preview! This addition allows report authors to use DirectQuery to connect to Azure Analysis Services or Power BI Datasets as sources in combination with other DirectQuery and imported data.

This feature is ideal for report authors who want to combine the data from their enterprise semantic model with other data they may own like an Excel spreadsheet, or who want to personalize or enrich the metadata from their enterprise semantic model.

Read more about this feature in this blog.

Small multiples (preview)

We are excited to announce the release of the public preview version of the small multiples feature! Small multiples, or trellising, splits a visual into multiple versions of itself, presented side-by-side, with its data partitioned across these versions by a chosen dimension (e.g., splitting a “sales by category” column chart across product lines or country).

For more details about this public preview, our roadmap for the feature, and ways to provide feedback, check out our separate blog post here. You can also read on for a high-level overview.

Enable the preview feature

In the Options and settings menu, enable the “Small multiples” feature on the preview features page.

Then restart Power BI Desktop, and you will be ready to try small multiples!

Create and format small multiples

Currently, you can create small multiples on your bar/column, line, and area charts. To get started, create one of the above visuals and choose a field along which you would like to partition its data. Drag that field into the “small multiples” well in the Fields pane. You will see your chart split into a 2×2 grid, where the data has been divided along your chosen dimension. The grid should be filled with the small multiples charts, sorted by the sort order of the chose dimension, from left-to-right, then top-to-bottom.

You will see that the axes are synchronized, with one Y axis at the left of each row and one X axis at the bottom of each column.

In the formatting pane, you will find some new options to allow you to control the look and feel of the grid.

You can adjust the style and position of the small multiple titles in the Small multiple title card:

And you can change the dimensions of the grid in the Grid layout card:

The default is a 2×2 grid of small multiples, but you can adjust the number of rows and columns to up to 6×6. Any multiples that do not fit on that grid will load in as you scroll down.

Limitations, feature roadmap, and feedback

To learn more about this preview feature’s current limitations and what we have planned for it moving forward, and to share your feedback on its current and planned states, check out the small multiples blog post here. All survey questions are optional, so please do not hesitate to leave us a comment.

We would love to hear what you think about the feature, whether it addresses your use cases, and how it can be improved, so please do not hesitate to let us know!

Data protection sensitivity labels in Power BI Desktop (preview)

Back in June, we announced the general availability of data protection in the Power BI service. Today, we are excited to enhance this capability by bringing Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity labels into Power BI Desktop as well, allowing creators to apply sensitivity labels the minute they start building their datasets and reports in Power BI Desktop.

By using sensitivity labels in Power BI Desktop, .pbix files can easily be classified and protected, in a way that is like how you do it with Excel, Word, and PowerPoint files. This new support ensures that your data will remain labeled, both when it is published to the service and when it is downloaded from the service as a .pbix file. When a labeled .pbix file is published to the service, both dataset and report inherit the label originally applied to the .pbix file.

Labels can have encryption settings applied. Applying such a label ensures the file is encrypted while stored, regardless of whether it is on a workstation or in online services. Additionally, when a .pbix file is downloaded from a dataset or report in the Power BI Service that has a sensitivity label, the file will automatically inherit the label.

For encrypted .pbix files, Power BI Desktop honors Microsoft Information Protection sensitivity label settings to ensure that only privileged users can view and edit it.

For more details, check out this blog post and read more in our documentation.

Increased rectangle select data point limit

In August, we released the public preview version of the data point rectangle select feature. Thanks for your feedback to date—this month, we have raised the limit of data points you can select at once to 3500 points. Hopefully, this makes selecting points on data-dense charts much more convenient!

Selection pane is now available in the mobile layout view

Starting with this release, when you are building your report layout for mobile phones you can open the Selection pane and see the layering order of the visuals on the page. You can change the layering order to bring visuals to the front or back in the mobile layout. This makes it easier to work with visuals that overlay one another when you want to change their order (changing the order of visuals in the selection pane in mobile layout view affects their order in the mobile layout only – the original order in the web layout stays as is). You also can see an indication of the visibility state of the visual. Note, however, that you cannot change the visibility state in the mobile layout view – the visual inherits its visibility state from the web layout.

Automatic page refresh for Analysis Services and Power BI datasets

Earlier this year we made automatic page refresh (APR for short) generally available. APR allows you to set the refresh interval of visuals in your report when using a Direct Query source. We are happy to announce an incremental improvement for APR adding support for Azure Analysis Services, SQL Server Analysis Services, and Power BI datasets.

To enable APR for these sources, the process is the same as Direct Query: connect to a supported source, and head to the page format pane to find page refresh and then enable the toggle, select Auto page refresh, and define a duration for your refresh. The minimum supported for these data sources will depend on the data source itself and , in the case of Power BI datasets, which type of workspace is hosting the dataset and its type.

Please keep in mind the following limitations for APR in this scenario:

  • The minimum refresh interval for Analysis Services and PUSH datasets is 30 minutes.
  • Power BI datasets are only supported if they are connected to a Direct Query data source.
  • Chaining models is not supported as part of the DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services public preview.
  • If your admin has disabled APR in a premium capacity, you will not be able to turn it on the service.
  • For APR to work in the Power BI service you will need to re-enter data source credentials.
  • Change detection is not supported for this type of data sources.

Learn more about how to set up automatic page refresh.

And as always, if you have any feedback about automatic page refresh and change detection, we would love to hear from you.

Data preparation


Recent changes to Power Query and Dataflows

We have recently announced exciting changes to Power Query and Dataflows. Read all about it in this blog.

Data connectivity


Microsoft Dataverse Connector

We are happy to announce a new connector for Microsoft Dataverse in Power BI is now generally available. With this new connector, Power BI users have more options when connecting to Dataverse environments, including Dataverse for Teams.

This connector is using the Tabular Data Stream endpoint for the Dataverse environment. This endpoint enables better relationship discovery in the Power BI dataset model. The new connector supports Direct Query providing real-time data and support for the Dataverse security model. In addition, complex data types, such as lookups, optionsets, and currency are flattened for easy consumption in the model.

To find out more, check out the preview documentation: View entity data in Power BI

To make sure that you are using the new connector, choose the Dataverse connector in ‘Get Data’ in Power BI Desktop, under the ‘Power Platform’ category.

Azure Time Series Insights Update

Time Series Insights has added support for Azure B2B / Guest account support.

SurveyMonkey Update

SurveyMonkey has added support for customers in their EU datacenter, as well as small bug fixes.

Cognite Update

The Cognite connector is generally available. It is also adding support for AAD authentication, as well as performance improvements for time series aggregation.




Power BI search in Microsoft Search in Bing and Office now generally available

We are thrilled to announce the general availability of the Power BI search in Microsoft Search in Bing and Office. This will introduce the Power BI search content in, Windows search box, and Microsoft Office sites (, to expand the work search to the whole organizational resources across different products.

What’s Power BI search in Microsoft Search in Bing and Office?

Power BI search in Microsoft Search in Bing and Microsoft Search in Office enables a business group to expand organizational search scope through a built-in powerful search experience with Power BI content, to intelligently help search user to find the most work relevant information more productively.

  • Built-in experience: Seamless out-of-box search experience to find Power BI dashboard and report easily and quickly across your organization without switching back and forth between search portal and Power BI site.
  • Richer content: Modernized search experience to present Power BI data in the most useful way. Enrich Power BI search content beyond just hyperlinks to include more key information, such as type, owner.
  • Maximize access to information with data protection: Show the search result with relevant Power BI data that is authenticated to you based on your workplace identity.
  • Unified search experience: Cohesive and coherent search experience to incorporate richer Power BI search content in,, Search wherever you want to and get the consistent experience.


Home List experience

Introducing a list view on the Home page – this view combines previous widgets on Home including Recent, Shared with me, and My apps to help simplify the experience. Hover over individual artifacts to directly favorite content that is important to you. The list view surfaces metadata to provide an at-a-glance overview including when an artifact was last opened, the location of a report, endorsement levels, app descriptions, and sensitivity labels. Head on over to this doc page to learn more!

Custom publish message

We added a new option in the admin portal which allows admins to provide a custom message that appears before a user publishes a report from Power BI Desktop.

Admins can find this new option in the Service by navigating to Settings > Admin portal > Tenant settings > Help and support settings and selecting Show a custom message before publishing reports.

Once you have enabled the setting, you will need to provide a custom message. The custom message can be plain text or follow Markdown syntax like the following example message:

#### Important Disclaimer
Before publishing the report to a workspace, be sure to validate that the appropriate users or groups that have access to the destination workspace. If there are users or groups that should NOT have access to the content and underlying artifacts, please remove or modify their access to the workspace or publish the report to a different workspace. [Learn more](

It is good to note that the text area where the custom message is displayed does support scrolling if you want to provide a lengthier message up to 5,000 characters.

Similar to other tenant settings, you can choose if the custom message applies to The entire organization, Specific security groups, orExcept specific security groups.

New export settings are available in the Power BI admin portal

We are happy to introduce new admin settings which provide you more granular control over export options in Power BI, and extend export settings to control also export from paginated reports.

New tenant admin settings:

  • Export to .csv – Controls exporting data from tiles, visualizations, or paginated report to a .csv file.
  • Download report – Controls downloading .pbix files and paginated reports.
  • Allow live connections – Controls Power BI service Live Connect, including Analyze in Excel.
  • Export reports as MHTML documents – Controls exporting paginated reports as MHTML documents.
  • Export reports as Word documents – Controls exporting paginated reports as Word documents.
  • Export reports as XML documents – Controls exporting paginated reports as XML documents.

To learn more, read the announcement of available export settings in Power BI Admin Portal

Power BI Premium per user public preview now available

The public preview of Power BI Premium per user has been enabled in all public tenants that requested priority access, and has rolled out to all tenants worldwide.  Now, Power BI users have access to all the Power BI Premium capabilities, on a per user basis, for the entire public preview period for free.

To learn more, read the announcement of Premium per user.

Quickly create reports in the Service (coming soon)

Coming soon: a new way to quickly create reports in the Service. Rather than downloading Power BI Desktop and importing data, you will be able to paste data straight into Power BI on the web and have visuals automatically generated for you. More information about this exciting new capability is coming soon!



Dark mode support in the Power BI Android app

Starting from this release, if you find it easier to use the dark theme when you use your device, you can enjoy that theme with the Power BI Android app as well, on both your phone and tablet. (iOS support for dark mode was release a while back. You can find more information here).

If you have already configured your device to operate in dark mode (available from Android 10), you do not need to do anything! The Power BI app automatically inherits the configuration from the device settings. Just get the latest app version from the store, and you will have dark mode enabled!

If you want to use a theme in your Power BI mobile app that is different from the one you have set for your device, go to the app’s settings page, tap on Appearance, and choose your preference: Dark, Light or System default.

When the app is in dark mode, all screens and dialogs are presented in a dark theme. Power BI content, however, such as reports and dashboards, does not change. It stays with the colors and themes published by the person who created them.

Anomaly detection is now supported in all mobile apps (iOS, Android and Windows)

The recently released Anomaly detection (preview) feature now works in the Power BI mobile apps as well. If the report creator has set up anomaly detection for a report visual, you will be able to view, in the mobile apps, unexpectedly high peaks or low dips in your data caused by data outliers (i.e., anomalies). In addition to being able to view spikes and dips in your data, you can also open the insights pane to get explanations. When you select an anomaly, Power BI runs an analysis across fields in your data model to figure out possible explanations. It gives you a natural language explanation of the anomaly, as well as factors associated with the anomaly, sorted according to explanatory strength. You can open the insights pane from the data point itself, or from the visual’s More options (…) menu.



New look for Embedded scenarios

All the improvements of the Power BI ‘new look’, for instance, navigation updates, will be available for Power BI embedded analytics scenarios. For more information check out Heads up: The ‘new look’ of the Power BI service begins rolling out soon blog.

By default, the report page navigation will be across the bottom as tabs. Getting the new page navigation on the left as a pane is possible programmatically (or by showing the report action bar).

To show the report page navigation on the left as a pane, you can use the ‘panes’ object and choose the position of the page navigation.

An additional change that is coming to Power BI embedded analytics with the `new look` update is the new pane design for edit mode `visualizations` and `fields` panes. You will now get the same panes design as it appears on Power BI desktop and service.

New capabilities in embedding for your organization


Report consumer action bar

As part of the Power BI `new look` update, the Power BI action bar has been made simpler and organized so it is easier to find actions. When embedding for your organization, consumers will now be able to use the Power BI report action bar.

To show the action bar for your report consumers, you need to add a setting on your embed configuration. The new setting is called bars (similar to the ‘panes’ object we introduced a few months ago):

By showing the action bar you will get the vertical list of pages, which is the same experience as Power BI service. The page navigation can be collapsed through the action bar, giving the users more room to view and interact with the report.

Controlling where the report page navigation sits (on the left as a pane or across the bottom as tabs) is only available through the report settings and not supported programmatically if the action bar is shown.

You will need to allow user state read and write permission for your application on Azure AD to get full functionality of the action bar, which includes:

  • Allow users to favorite the report
  • Use of Personal bookmarks
  • Use of Persistent filters


Personal bookmarks

Report consumers can create their own set of bookmarks for each report by capturing various states of a report page (including filters, slicers, and state of visuals), give them friendly names, and later return to each state with just one click! In addition, it is also possible to make any personal bookmark the default view, so your end-users can land on their favorite view of the report every time you open it.
Now, report consumers can use the same personal bookmarks they are using on Power BI service when consuming embedded analytics (only supported when embedding for your organization).

When embedding Power BI for your organization, personal bookmarks can be enabled in two ways. The first is showing the report action bar, by showing the report action bar you will allow your end-users to open and close the bookmarks pane as part of the action bar bookmarks button.

Another option is to show and hide the bookmarks pane programmatically, by using the panes object on the report settings. Read more about the panes object in the Embed Configuration Details article. You can also update the report settings in run time by using the Update Settings API.

NotePersonal bookmarks feature requires the new Azure AD app permissions and load configuration setting.

Read more about Personal bookmarks in embed for your organization.

Persistent filters

Persistent filters allow your users to retain the filters, slicers, and other data view changes that they make. Users no longer need to spend their valuable time slicing and dicing their report and repeating the same steps each time they return to the embedded report. With this feature, users will be able to pick up right where they left off last time and quickly get to their insights!

The same state will be shared both for consuming the report in embedded analytics and in Power BI service.

With the new action bar in embedded reports, the persistent filters “Reset to default” button will be available for your users, without implementing your own customized button.

Read more about Persistent filters in embed for your organization.

Personalize visuals experience now fully supported on embedded scenarios

The Personalize visuals feature empowers your end-users to explore and personalize visuals all within the consumption view of a report. When you turn on personalize visual for a report, the option to personalize a visual will also be available when consuming embedded analytics.

After your end users make tweaks to the visuals in the report, they can then save their modified view as a personal bookmark (only supported when embedding for your organization). If you do not have personal bookmarks available for your report (or when embedding for your customers), you can also save the end-users modified view by using the Bookmarks APIs.

To capture a bookmark state with the user’s modified visuals, you should capture the report state with a new capture bookmark options object. By default, the user’s modified visuals will not be saved on the captured bookmark. See the example below to learn how to capture a bookmark state with the personalized visuals:

let capturedBookmark = report.bookmarksManager.capture({ personalizeVisuals: true });

You can then save the bookmark states of each user as part of your web application code and create a personalized bookmarks experience for your users.

The Bookmarks APIs support both embed for your customers and embed for your organization scenarios.

New Q&A embed experience

The new Q&A embed experience is now aligned with the new Q&A visual.
When embedding Q&A to your web application you will now get an input box for you to type your questions and a few suggestions to get started with. Clicking any of the suggestions will automatically populate the input box with that question and show you the result.

The new Q&A embed experience supports all the new Q&A features you have for the report Q&A visual. Read more about it in the documentation.

Power BI APIs & Life-Cycle Management

Export report to file API updates

In March 2020 we introduced the Export report to PDF, PPTX and PNG files using Power BI REST API (Preview). The API included Bookmarks capabilities to export the current state of a report, after applying filters to it. Now we have added the option to export an existing report bookmark, using the name property, a unique (case sensitive) identifier which you can get using the bookmarks JavaScript API and we have also added the option to pass report level filters through the API. The ability to export a single visual will be coming soon.

Take over API for paginated report data source

The new Reports – Take Over in Group API will allow you to transfer the ownership of paginated reports data sources to the authorized user (the user that called the API).

For instance, to update the details of a data source, you must be the owner of the data source. The take over API for paginated reports will help take the ownership and update the data source.

The new API will be the equivalent of the existing API, Datasets – Take over in group, which allows you to transfer ownership of a dataset for Power BI reports.

Coming Soon

Improved Analytics with Next-Generation Power BI Embedded

Last month, we announced the Preview Availability of Improved Analytics with Next-Generation Power BI Premium. We are happy to announce that the Next-Generation platform will come to Power BI Embedded as well. When available, the new platform will improve chargeback support for ISVs and will introduce lower entry points for premium features like paginated reports and others. Stay tuned for further updates on Next Generation Power BI Embedded availability.



New visuals

The new visuals for this month are:
AdaptiveCards by Paradigm BI
France Map Drilldown by Data Khi
Dumbbell Bar Chart by Nova Silva BV
Dumbbell Column Chart by Nova Silva BV
Strip Plot by Nova Silva BV
Add Intelligent Narratives for BI by Arria NLG
Overlapping Bar Chart by Acorn Hill

Strip Plot by Nova Silva

Most charts will force you to summarize or categorize data before it is displayed. This can hide important details and may be misleading. The Strip Plot shows all your data observations in one go without hiding important details. It shows each data point on a single continuous scale.

The example above illustrates this by showing the number of reported COVID-19 cases per continent (on September 1st, 2020). The bar chart shows the average per continent, where the Strip Plot shows the cases per individual country. In the Strip Plot it becomes obvious the relative high number in Oceania are caused by just two countries (outliers), where the bar chart only shows a very high average. It is these kinds of details that become visible in the Strip Plot.

Furthermore, the Strip Plot supports all standard Power BI functionality like drilling, selection & highlighting, context menu and full tooltip support. All this functionality is available through the standard Power BI interface, so no need to learn any new interface.

Do not hesitate and try the Strip Plot now on your own data by downloading it from the AppSource.

Questions or remarks? Visit us at:

Intelligent Narratives by Arria NLG

Quickly identify, understand, communicate, and action key insights with user-configurable, out-of-the-box narratives. Arria’s narrative capabilities support your dashboard’s visuals – and describe the underlying data – with expertly written short-form summaries or long-form reports.

Explain data in natural language to support your visuals

Arria’s custom visual gives you access to advanced natural language generation, in the form of configurable, no-code narratives. Arria also provides natural language query capabilities so you can ask questions about your data and get instant, precise responses.

Instant narrative, actionable insights – out of the box

From sales performance to expense variance, you no longer have to sift through mountains of data to get the answers to your organization’s most important questions. Report generation takes minutes instead of hours.

To create your reports, choose from multiple apps:

Narratives are generated instantly, based on your data selections and your choice of analysis type.

Speed to insights

Get more out of your dashboards by adding powerful NLG technology – for automatically generated written reporting, with no coding required. Narrate your visuals with natural-language insights for speed to data understanding. Drill down into all your dashboard’s underlying data to tap into insights that you might otherwise miss.

With Arria, you can instantly create expert, natural-language narratives right inside your dashboard. You choose the analysis type you need, and you configure the narrative according to your business requirements.

Using NLQ, you can query your data, on demand. Within the integrated chat interface, ask your data questions and get answers.

Find the Arria add-in on AppSource here:

Check out a showcase report here:

Find Arria’s gallery of sample dashboards here:

To learn more:


Editor’s picks

The new Editor’s picks visuals of the month are:
X-Bar Control Chart by PQ Systems
Image by CloudScope
Drill Down Network PRO by ZoomCharts
Hierarchical Bar Chart by
Lollipop Bar Chart by Nova Silva BV

The Editor’s picks can be found in the in-product AppSource in Power BI Desktop and service under Editor’s picks category.

Template Apps


Test Your Analytics Maturity

Test Your Analytics Maturity app created by Avanade helps you to evaluate your organization’s analytics maturity. Once you install the Power BI app you will see a Power BI report that consists of ten simple questions to gauge your analytics maturity on multiple core dimensions.  Share the tool with your colleagues and learn whether your analytics maturity level is at a Slumber, Awakening, Challenge, Accomplishment, or Triumph. As someone interested in evangelizing the capabilities of Power BI, one aspect of the Test Your Analytics Maturity app which you may find interesting is that this self-assessment tool uses built-in Power BI visualizations and synced slicers to deliver a survey-like experience. In addition to helping you assess maturity, Avanade wanted to provide you a tool to help you showcase the flexibility and possibilities of Power BI for your organization.

Get the app from AppSource.

Apps on AppSource

With Microsoft AppSource you can find the right app for your organization’s needs and get solutions that can enrich the Microsoft products you use. While it is easy to find apps on the official AppSource portal, we thought it would make sense to allow you an alternative way to do it. On a Power BI report. You can do that now using a new Power BI App from DataChant designed for Power BI fans, called the Apps on AppSource – Exploration Tool, which is available here. From the main view of the app, you can search and filter for apps by products, publishers, or app name. You can see top products and publishers and find the most favored publisher. In the table view, you can highlight a specific app to read its description or click on the app image or title to navigate to the app on AppSource. You can also click the Video or Help hyperlinks to browse to the relevant app resources. The app includes a WordCloud view to allow you to search for apps by common key phrases and drill through to the Publisher view to specific publishers and review their various apps on the market.

Read more about the app here:

Get the app from AppSource.

Power BI Gold suite

The Power BI Gold collection of apps are a set of ready-made reports that give you a head start implementing Power BI for a Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central system, designed, and developed by the team at Fenwick Software.

The included datasets plug directly into Dynamics 365 Business Central, allowing you to easily extract data and build custom reports based on your data. Our curated datasets across the areas of sales, finance, purchasing, and inventory modules give you a strong reporting foundation.

With Power BI Gold you can build reports by any dimension from Business Central. Measures are ready to go, and the data is already modelled for analysis; instant plug and play for business reporting. Each report comes with a pre-built report template with carefully thought-out visuals and formatting configurable to your organization’s logo and color theme.

Each Power BI Gold app has a pre-built data connector app required to install in Dynamics 365 Business Central system to allow for the integration of data to Power BI, which is detailed here.

Power BI Gold for Sales
Get Power BI Gold for Sales from AppSource.

Power BI Gold for Finance

Get Power BI Gold for Finance from AppSource.
Power BI Gold for Purchasing

Get Power BI Gold for Purchasing from AppSource.


Power BI Gold for Inventory


Get Power BI Gold for Inventory from AppSource.


Power BI Gold for Inventory Valuation

Get Power BI Gold for Inventory Valuation from AppSource.




New Admin APIs and Service Principal authentication to make for better tenant metadata scanning

Power BI enables organizations to adopt a data-driven culture where every person can get value from data. With the massive amounts of self-service data generated in Power BI, our Power BI customers tell us about a few emerging challenges:

  • How to allow self-service but still govern data efficiently.
  • How to help users discover the right data to use.
  • How to reduce data duplication.

We are excited to announce that with this release we have made it easier for you to get the information you need from Power BI to help you to address and overcome these challenges.

Service Principal authentication for read-only scanner Admin APIs

To better support the security constraints of some organizations, we added service principal support for the scanner Admin APIs. Service principal is an authentication method that can be used to let an Azure AD application access Power BI APIs. With this authentication method, you no longer have to maintain a service account with an admin role. Rather, to allow your app to use the Admin APIs, you just have to give your approval once as part of the tenant settings configuration.

To enable service principal access to read-only Admin APIs, read more here.

Asynchronous unified scanning APIs

In the past, to get a full scan of Power BI assets, data source metadata, and lineage, you had to call multiple APIs. Now we have released unified Async APIs that can get you all the required metadata and lineage information in an efficient, reliable way.

We learned that each tenant has a massive amount of data, and so, to avoid failures in returning the metadata and to improve scanning time, we implemented the APIs in an asynchronous way. The APIs were designed with full tenant scan in mind, and their efficiency on the server side was improved dramatically. The time it now takes for a full scan of large tenants can be just minutes or hours, instead of days or weeks as in the past, and the number of failures has gone down significantly.

Incremental scan

We understand the customer need to have a scheduled scan that gets the required info from Power BI and provides an up-to-date picture of what is going on in the Power BI tenant. We know how to distinguish which of the customer’s workspaces do not change frequently, most of the time staying the same without any updates. In these “static workspaces”, the data might get refreshed, but the associated metadata stays the same. With this understanding, we designed support for an incremental scan, giving customers the flexibility to scan only those workspaces that have changed since the last time they were scanned. Using the incremental scan can reduce scanning time significantly and save resources, both for the customer and for the Power BI service.

Endorsement (Certified and Promoted) labels

To better support the discovery of high-quality data, the information the API returns for dataflows, datasets, and reports includes information about endorsement, if any. This makes it easy to get a clear overall picture about endorsed content in your organization. Read more about the new endorsement capabilities here.

Sensitivity labels

If you use sensitivity labels in Power BI to protect your data, you might find it useful to extract and use this information in your customized scanning solution.

The new APIs return the sensitivity label ID for each labelled artifact. You can use it to create your own report to see how well your data is protected.

Power BI Visuals Platform adds support for conditional formatting

Conditional formatting lets a report creator specify how colors are displayed in a report, according to a numerical value. With the new 3.5 API release developers will be able to add the conditional formatting functionality to your Power BI visual. Read more in the docs.

As always, we highly recommend you update your visuals to the latest API release to enjoy the new functionality and improvements.

That is all for this month and year! Please continue sending us your feedback and do not forget to vote for other features that you would like to see in Power BI! We hope that you enjoy the update!

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