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Power BI Desktop November 2018 Feature Summary

Headshot of article author Amanda Cofsky

We have a massive Power BI Desktop update this month. Composite models, which allow you to combine direct query and import sources together in one model, is now generally available. Two of the top feature requests on UserVoice, expand/collapse on the matrix and copy and pasting visuals between Desktop files, are also shipping this month. We are previewing a completely revamped filter pane that is highly customizable and have a ton of other product updates as well!

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Custom visuals

Data connectivity

For a summary of the major updates, you can watch the following video:


Expand & collapse matrix row headers

We are very excited to announce the release of one of the most requested visual features, the ability to expand and collapse individual row headers.

There are two ways you can expand row headers. The first is through the right-click menu. You’ll see options to expand the specific row header you clicked on, the entire level or everything down to the very last level of the hierarchy. You have similar options for collapsing row headers as well.


You can also add +/- buttons to the row headers through the formatting pane under the row headers card. By default, the icons will match the formatting of the row header, but you can customize the icons’ color and size separately if you want. clip_image004

Once the icons are turned on, they work similarly to the icons from PivotTables in Excel.


The expansion state of the matrix will save with your report. It can be pinned to dashboards as well, but consumers will need to open up the report to change the state. Conditional formatting will only apply to the inner most visible level of the hierarchy. Note that this expand/collapse experience is not currently supported when connecting to AS servers older than 2016 or MD servers.

Watch the following video to learn more about expand/collapse in the matrix:

Copy & paste between Power BI Desktop files

Another frequent request we are delivering this month is the ability to copy visuals between .pbix files. With this month’s release, you can now copy a visual either through the visual’s context menu or through the standard Ctrl+C keyboard shortcut and paste it into another report through Ctrl+V.


This is very useful for anyone who builds and updates multiple reports frequently. When copying between files, formatting that has been explicitly set in the formatting pane will carry forward, and anything that is relying on a theme or the default settings will update to match the theme of the destination report.

If the fields in your model are different, you’ll see an error on the visual and a warning on the fields that don’t exist, similar to the experience you see if you delete a field in the model a visual is using. All you’ll need to do is replace the broken fields with the ones you want to use from the new model. If you are using a custom visual, you’ll also need to import it to the destination file as well.


Watch the following video to learn more about copying and pasting between .pbix files:

Updated filtering experience (preview)

Our filter pane is a very important part of any report, and we’ve been listening to all the feedback we get from the community to learn what would be the most impactful updates we could make. We’d hear that consumers won’t understand what filters are affecting a visual. Not only does the filter pane showing up as collapsed at the corner of the report making it difficult to notice, it also didn’t have enough configuration and customization options to meet all your needs when building reports. Based on all this feedback, we have a preview of a fully revamped filtering experience.

This new filter pane has many new features such as:

  • Hide individual filters or the entire filter pane from report consumers
  • Lock filters as read only for report consumers
  • Formatting options for the filter pane to make it feel like part of the report
  • Flexibility of defining default expand / collapsed filter pane at report load time for consumers
  • Read only view of filters affecting a visual directly on visuals

To start using this new filter pane, you will first need to enable it through the Preview features section of the Options dialog. After this, it will be enabled for all new reports.


For existing reports, you’ll additionally need to check the option under Report settings in the Options dialog.


Once the new filter pane is enabled, you’ll see it attached to the report page. It will be formatted by default based on your current report settings. This new filter pane is what your report consumers will see when you publish your report, and the older filter pane now acts as a filter editing pane. This means you can update existing filters through the new pane, but you’ll use the older filter pane to configure which filters to include.

Note: Wondering why we have two filter panes? The new filter pane gives you a taste of what your report consumers will see without publishing the report (same as any other visual in your report). In a few months, we will remove the old filter pane and the new pane will be used to add new filters as well.

To show and hide the new filter pane, you can use the eye icon next to FILTERS title of the filter editing pane. This saves with the report, so you’ll be able to completely hide the filter pane from your report consumers if you want.


You can also use the filter editing pane to lock or hide individual filter cards. As you toggle these settings in the editor, you’ll see the changes reflected in the new filter pane.


Through the formatting pane you can format both the new filter pane, and the individual filter cards. For the filter pane, you can format the background color and transparency, the font and icon colors, and the color and visibility of the left border of the pane.


You can format the filter card’s background color and transparency and border color and visibility. You’re able to format these properties for both the state when the filter is cleared (Available) and the state when the filter is set to something (Applied).


Another benefit of this new experience is that you can now see a read only view of filters that are affecting each visual. You can hover over a filter icon in the visual’s header to see filters, slicers, and cross-highlighting state that is affecting what data is showing in the visual. This new icon is on by default (provided your preview switch is checked as called out above), but of course you can turn it off for your report consumers through the visual header card in the formatting pane.


Watch the following video to learn more about the new filtering experience:

Accessibility improvements

We have lots of accessibility improvements this month in the reporting space.

First is that the selection pane is now fully accessible. This includes keyboard navigation, screen reader support and high contrast support. When using the selection pane with a keyboard, once you open the selection pane from the ribbon, your focus will move directly to the pane. From there you can tab through all the buttons on pane. When your focus is on the list, you can press F6 to "activate" the list and use up/down arrows to cycle through the list of visuals. While your focus is on an individual object in the selection pane list, you can use the following hotkeys:

  • Select/deselect an object – ENTER or SPACEBAR
  • Multi-select – CTRL+SPACE
  • Move an object up in the layering – CTRL+SHIFT+F
  • Move an object down in the layering – CTRL+SHIFT+B
  • Hide/show (toggle) an object – CTRL+SHIFT+S

Press tab to exit the activated list and return to the top of the pane.

The following experiences also fully support keyboard navigation, screen readers, and high contrast settings:

  • Q&A explorer dialog
  • Getting started dialog
  • File Menu & about dialog
  • Warning bar
  • File Restore dialog
  • Frowns dialog

Lastly, we are enabling you to more quickly navigate to different areas of Power BI Desktop through ctrl+F6. Instead of just jumping between visuals on a page and the page tab switcher, you can also quickly jump to whatever panes are currently visible, the view switcher on the left and the account options on the top right. You can still reach the ribbon through pressing Alt.


Color saturation on visuals upgraded to use conditional formatting

For quite a while now, we’ve had two different ways to dynamically color a visual’s data points depending on the visual type. Our charts had a color saturation option in the field well that gave you basic controls, and the table and matrix visuals had conditional formatting. We’ve added a ton of functionality to the conditional formatting experience for table and matrix over the last year, but the color saturation feature for cartesian charts hasn’t received much love.

That has finally changed this month, as we’ve upgraded all the generally available visuals that previously used color saturation to have the same conditional formatting experience as table and matrix currently has. This means you’ll have access to all three types of formatting currently available: Color by color scales, Color by rules, and Color by field. As mentioned, this change impacts all visuals which previously had color saturation which includes:

  • All variants of column and bar charts
  • Funnel chart
  • Bubble & filled maps
  • Treemap
  • Scatter chart

With this upgrade, you’ll notice the color saturation bucket is no longer in the field well. Instead to format, you’ll go to the Data colors card in the formatting pane. Here you can format with the color pickers as normal or select the Advanced controls option to launch the conditional formatting dialog.


Once there, you can use any of the three conditional formatting options and select OK to apply the formatting.


And that’s it! The conditional formatting colors will apply on top of whatever formatting you already have through theming and manually picking through the color pickers.


Watch the following video to learn more about conditional formatting in visuals:

Related questions in the Q&A explorer

You can now ask related questions in the Q&A explorer dialog, which means that the answers to your questions can take into account the previous question’s context.

For example, you can start by asking for the products sold by Contoso.


Then you can click the Ask a related question button and ask the related question for the sales for each of those products.


You can continue to ask follow-up questions and can even change filter context, like by asking to show Fabrikam products instead.


Here are some types of follow-up questions you can ask and the phrasing to use:

  • Add another field – “Include brand name”
  • Extend filter – “For Contoso as well”
  • Add a filter – “what about 2015?”
  • Replace filters – “Show Contoso instead” or “What about for Contoso?”

Watch the following video to learn more about related questions in Q&A:


New modeling view (preview)

Another major improvement this month is our preview of the new modeling view. We’ve been working on this new view for quite a while now and are very excited to share it with everyone. This new version has many new features include:

  • Faster performance on large models with many tables
  • Customize and save diagram view layouts
  • Multiple diagram layouts
  • Modeling options through the field properties pane and field list
  • Display folder creation
  • Apply common settings to multiple fields at once


Once you turn on the preview in the Options dialog, you’ll see two relationships views. You’ll be able to recognize the new preview one through a little star on the bottom right corner of the icon.


Watch the following video to learn more about the new modeling view:

Composite models now generally available

Our new composite models feature is now generally available. Thank you for all the great feedback during the preview period. It has really shaped the feature. In fact, in addition to GA-ing the feature this month, we also have an update that’s based on your feedback. We now allow relationships that are between different sources to have a cardinality of Many to 1 to reflect the actual cardinality of the data. While the relationships still have the same “weak” behavior as relationships that have a cardinality of Many-to-Many, allowing the true cardinality to be defined permits additional optimizations and clearer models.

Modeling accessibility improvements

Our modeling experiences also has accessibility improvements this month. We’ve added keyboard navigation, screen reader support, and high contrast setting support to the following experiences:

  • Manage relationships dialog
  • Edit relationships dialog
  • Manage roles dialog for RLS

New DAX functions

We have three DAX updates this month. In support of our new expand/collapse feature for the matrix visual, there’s now an additional optional DrilldownFilter argument for the RollupAddIsSubtotal function and a new NonVisual function. Additionally, we’ve added the IsInScope function, which is a better way to detect hierarchy level in a measure expression. Some popular tasks you might need this for include (1) calculating child percentage of parent subtotal and (2) calculating ranks of children under different parents. You can find more information on these formulas here: ISINSCOPE, NONVISUAL, New argument for ROLLUPADDISSUBTOTAL.

Custom visuals

Calendar by MAQ Software

The Calendar by MAQ Software custom visual is an effective way to track events within your Power BI report. Some key features include:

  • Grouping events based on category
  • Month, week, day and list views
  • Navigate to event details with a single click
  • Set workdays and hours


You can download this visual on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Calendar by MAQ Software custom visual:

Ratings by MAQ Software

The Ratings by MAQ Software custom visual lets you add ratings or scores to your reports. You can show either the average ratings or break it down over a specific category. You’re able to choose between four different shapes and between a solid and gradient fill.


Check out this visual on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Ratings by MAQ Software custom visual:

Hourglass Chart by MAQ Software

The Hourglass Chart by MAQ Software custom visual lets you compare category values between two scenarios, which is very useful when showing conversion rates.

With this visual you can:

  • Cross-highlight individual categories
  • Display it either horizontally or vertically
  • Animate individual categories on hover
  • Add and remove the conversion box


You can find this custom visual on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Hourglass by MAQ Software custom visual:

Forecast Using Multiple Models by MAQ Software

The Forecast Using Multiple Models by MAQ Software R custom visual allows you to forecast future values based on historical data using four different forecasting models. The models include Linear Regression, ARIMA, Exponential Smoothing, and Neural Network. You can manually adjust the parameters of the learning model, show the confidence intervals, and decide on the split point.


Try out this custom visual by downloading it from AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Forecast Using Multiple Models by MAQ Software custom visual:

Pie Charts Tree

The Pie Charts Tree custom visual by Aritz Fancoy lets you display a tree visual with pie charts as the nodes. To create a plain tree structure all you need to do is add multiple fields to the Categories bucket in the fields list. From there you can add data labels with the Values bucket, percent of target pie charts with the Target bucket, and progress percentage with the Progress field.


Watch the following video to learn more about the Pie Charts Tree custom visual:

Data connectivity

Azure DevOps Server connector

This month we’re excited to release a new connector for Azure DevOps Server, allowing you to import and transform data from Azure DevOps Server in order to build Power BI reports.

The new Azure DevOps Server Connector can be found under the Online Services category within the Get Data dialog.


PDF Connector support for Start Page and End Page parameters

The PDF Files connector has been enhanced in this release to allow you to specify Start Page and End Page optional parameters, which restricts Power Query to only explore a given range of pages for discovering tables.

These parameters can be specified in the M formula generated after connecting to a PDF file: Pdf.Tables(File.Contents("c:\sample.pdf"), [StartPage=10, EndPage=11])

Improved Azure Consumption Insights connector

This month we’ve enhanced the Azure Consumption Insights connector to add Budget and Reserved Instances data.


That’s all for this month! We hope that you enjoy these updates and continue sending us your feedback. Please 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.

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