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Power BI Report Server September 2021 Feature Summary

Headshot of article author Jeroen ter Heerdt

We’re excited to bring you a new version of Power BI Report Server this Fall! With the September 2021 update, we have a variety of new enhancements, including line charts improvements, new formatting options for buttons, small multiples new feature, and the new Model View. Please continue to read on!

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Here’s a complete list of the updates:



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Area chart transparency sliders

You can now set the transparency of the colored areas in your area and stacked area charts. Before, this transparency was defaulted to 60%. Adjust this transparency in the Data colors card in the Formatting pane.

Area chart visual

Inner padding for continuous axes

Cartesian charts with categorical axes have an “inner padding” option in the formatting pane which adjusts the size of the padding between category bars, columns, and clusters. This helps you determine how thick your columns and bars should be and how much whitespace should be between them. This month, we’re adding this option to continuous axes as well, allowing you greater control over the look and feel of your charts.

Example # 1 of bar chart with inner padding

Example #2 of bar chart with inner padding

Small multiples new feature

We are excited to announce the release 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).

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 chosen dimension, from left-to-right, then top-to-bottom.

Representation of a bar chart using small multiples functionality

You’ll 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.

Out team has been working on this feature for some time to release it to you with the improved functionality and with a variety of formatting options.

The small multiples has the improved keyboard navigation and screen reader support. Moving focus around the small multiples grid is consistent and intuitive, and screen reader readouts are descriptive.

The sorting functionality of small multiples allows you to sort the order in which they appear by the measures in your field wells. This is useful for cases like seeing the highest cumulative value small multiple first and will help you make more useful comparisons. It is also coming with a slightly new UI in the context menu that will help us scale better to more sortable elements in the future!

Sort small multiples functionality

We’ve enabled support for the responsive toggle in the General card of the Formatting pane. Responsive visuals will slowly drop chart elements like axis titles, axes, and legend as their size shrinks, providing more room to the plot area. For small multiples, the responsive breakpoints have been adjusted to accommodate for the potential presence of more than one plot area in the visual. This means that small multiples visuals will generally begin shrinking padding and dropping chart elements earlier than non-small multiples visuals to make room for the multiple plot areas. Although responsiveness is on by default, responsive behavior will generally not affect visuals large enough to provide a clear data visualization.

We’ve also added conditional formatting to small multiple title and background colors. Click the fx button next to their corresponding options in the formatting pane to launch the conditional formatting dialog, where you can set rules by which the chart elements are colored. With this functionality, your small multiple titles and backgrounds can assist in communicating important aspects of your data.

Conditional formatting to small multiple title and background colors

For the higher-level overview please check out our separate blog post here.

Conditional formatting for assorted visuals

We’ve added conditional formatting options to various properties across our visuals. Now, in addition to all of the properties which already supported conditional format, you will find the fx button next to:

  • Data label colors
  • Total label colors
  • Legend text colors
  • Axis start and end
  • Axis title, gridline, and label colors
  • Funnel visual percent bar label colors
  • Funnel visual category axis color
  • Multi-row card title text, data label colors, and category label colors
  • Gauge visual axis colors, including start, minimum, and maximum
  • Slicer slider and header font colors


Customize shape formatting

You can now customize the formatting of the shapes you add to your Power BI reports! We’ve added a number of controls into the Shape card of the formatting pane for a variety of different Shape options, including rounded rectangles, chevrons, arrows, and more. Now you can customize the look of each of the shapes you create, helping you to more flexibly design, structure, and stylize your report pages.

Example of a shape customization

Line chart improvements

X-axis constant line improvements

Since we introduced the X-axis constant line, we’ve received feedback on ways we can make it an even more useful reference on your Cartesian charts. This month, we’ve acted on that feedback, bringing you conditional formatting for X-axis constant line value and shading for regions before or after the constant line. You can find these new options in the X-axis constant line card in the Analytics pane.

Chart representing X-axis constant line improvements

Line chart series labels

We’ve included a new option to create and format series labels in your line charts. Using the series labels option in the formatting pane, you can turn on and format labels that appear on the left or right sides of your series categories in line charts. These supplement the legend in providing clarity on which lines are associated with which categories. Let us know what you think, and if you would like to see additional formatting options or controls for this new chart element!

Chart presenting Line chart series labels functionality

New formatting options for buttons

We’re incredibly excited to announce that we’ve updated the buttons in Power BI to now include a lot more formatting options, including new shapes, custom icons, and more!

Different options to format buttons

Before we dive into the details of the new formatting options, we want to thank Ethan Netz, the contributor that worked on adding these new capabilities to buttons!

Previously, buttons were only available in the Rectangle shape. Now with this release, you have a lot more shapes to choose from:

  • Arrow
  • Chevron Arrow
  • Pentagon Arrow
  • Heart
  • Hexagon
  • Isosceles Triangle
  • Octagon
  • Oval
  • Parallelogram
  • Pentagon
  • Pill
  • Rectangle
  • Right Triangle
  • Rounded Rectangle
  • Speech bubble
  • Tab: Single Corner Rounded
  • Tab: Single Corner Snipped
  • Tab: Top Corners Rounded
  • Tab: Top Corners Snipped
  • Trapezoid

While Rectangle is still the default shape for buttons, you can change to shape by navigating to the Shape tab of the Format button pane:

In addition to new shapes available for buttons, this release also includes new formatting options such as:

Format button menu

  1. Custom image or icon for your button

Example of a custom image used for a button

You can find this option by navigating to the Icon tab of the Format button pane and selecting the Custom option for Icon:

Example #2 of the Format button menu

Once you add your image you can also customize the Image fit:

Customization of the image fit

2. Easy icon placement options

Icon placement example

You can find these options in the Icon placement dropdown of the Icon tab:

Icon placement dropdown menu

If you select the Custom option, you can control icon’s vertical and horizontal alignment:

Icon's alignment

3. Control Icon margin (padding)

Icon margin (padding)

4. Customize and fix the Icon size

Customize and fix the Icon size image

By default, the Icon size is set to Auto, meaning that as you resize the button, the icon size will automatically change in size.

Icon size (in pixels) image

However, now you have the option to set a fixed Icon size (in pixels):

How to set the icon size in pixels

5. Drop Shadow effects

Drop Shadow effects

6. Glow effects

Glow effect for the button

7. Button Shape rotation and Text rotation

Example of Button Shape rotation and Text rotation

Toggle total columns in waterfall charts

We’ve heard your feedback, and you can now turn off total columns in your waterfall charts! You will find this new toggle in the Y axis card in the formatting pane. Turn it on, and the totals of your waterfall charts will be removed.

Note that if you have a breakdown field, your visual will have subtotal columns but not a total column, so you will not see this option in the formatting pane. Please continue sending us your feedback and ideas!

Waterfall chart with turned off total columns



New Model View

We’re excited to announce the new model view UI! Thank you to everyone who gave continued feedback. To see all the new features that were added, you can visit one of our previous blog posts. Keep in mind that if you are using a report that you haven’t already upgraded to the new model view, it will automatically be upgraded for you now.

New way of expressing Date and DateTime values

We are introducing a new way to express Date and DateTime-typed values as a DAX literal.

This will allow you to directly specify dates and times (up to the second) in you DAX queries, without having to use other functions. Starting with this release, we support either a complete date value or a complete date and time value. The syntax is as follows:

Date format: dt”YYYY-MM-DD”

For example, dt”1999-12-31″ would represent December 31, 1999.

DateTime format: dt”YYYY-MM-DDThh:mm:ss” or dt”YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss”

For example, dt”2021-05-24T12:00:00″ and dt”2021-05-24 12:00:00″  would both represent noon on May 24, 2021.

Note: In the above usages, DAX supports valid date/time components with fewer digits than indicated for ease of use. For instance, January can be specified as either 1 or 01.

As a more practical example, please consider the following. Previously, one might filter their sales to those within a specific order date range by using:




[OrderDate] > (DATE(2015,1,9) + TIME(2,30,0)) && [OrderDate] < (DATE(2015,12,31) + TIME(11,59,59))


However, now you can achieve the same functionality with this more concise syntax:




[OrderDate] > dt"2015-1-9T02:30:00" && [OrderDate] < dt"2015-12-31T11:59:59"



Shortcut expression for CALCULATE now supports aggregation functions

We have made it easier to write filters for the CALCULATE and CALCULATETABLE functions. You can now use aggregation functions in the filters when they are used in Boolean (True/False) expressions. Please note that the newly supported syntaxes improve the readability of the DAX expressions but don’t impact performance when compared to their more verbose equivalent expressions. Below are some examples of the newly supported syntax:

CALCULATE([Total Sales], DimProduct[UnitPrice] > MEDIAN(DimProduct[UnitPrice]))


New parameter for XIRR function

In certain situations, the XIRR function (a financial function that can be used to calculate the internal rate of return) is unable to find a solution and returns an error. Starting with this release we’ve added a fifth and optional parameter that enables you to specify an alternate result which will be returned instead of an error whenever the XIRR function cannot find a solution.

Making it easier to format based on a user’s locale

The FORMAT function enables you to convert a value to text according to a specified format. This month, we’re adding the ability to specify a locale. For example, if you wanted to show a date in the English / Great Britain locale you could write:

FORMAT( dt”2010-12-03T12:30:59”, “General date”, “en-GB” )

This returns 03/12/2010 12:30:59, where the day precedes the month, and the time is written in 24-hour format.

If you wanted to show a date in the English / United States locale you could write:

FORMAT( dt"2010-12-03T12:30:59", BLANK(), "en-US" )

This returns 12/3/2010 12:30:59 PM, where the month precedes the day, and the time is written in 12-hour format. Note that this second example does not specify a format string alltogether.

If you specify a format string that is not locale-dependent such as “mm/dd/yyyy” that format string will be used, and any locale specified will not be used. Hence, the following will return 12/3/2010 even though “en-GB” is specified as the locale:

FORMAT( dt"2010-12-03T12:30:59", "mm/dd/yyyy", "en-GB" )

As another example, consider the following:

FORMAT( 123456.78, "###,###.##", "nl-NL")

This returns 123.456,78 as in the Netherlands (nl-NL locale) the comma is used as the decimal separator and the thousand separator is a dot, whereas switching the locale to “en-US” returns 123,456.78 as in the USA it’s the other way around.

Note that these examples leverage the new way of expressing datetime values in DAX introduced last month. Of course, you can pass in a column reference or use the date functions to provide the date and time. Please refer to the documentation for more information about what format strings and locales you can provide as the second and third parameter respectively.

Evaluation configuration settings

Power BI Desktop optimizes query performance when importing data or when using DirectQuery by evaluating tables simultaneously. However, in specific situations, you might want to influence the behaviour and change the defaults, for example when the data import is taking too long, or Power BI Desktop is taking too many resources on the machine. Until now you could only influence these settings by making changes to the registry. With this release, we have added two configuration options to Power BI Desktop:

  • Maximum number of simultaneous evaluations. This configures the level of parallelization for query execution in PowerQuery.
  • Maximum memory used per simultaneous evaluation. This configures the available memory per evaluation. Screen shot of the data load option menu

Using these settings, you can make sure the loading of data is optimized for your machine, so you get the best experience. Read more.

Paginated Reports


New version of Power BI Report Builder

A new version of Power BI Report Builder is now available! With this update of Power BI Report Builder, the 64-bit version is now available from the Microsoft Download Center, in addition to the Microsoft Store, for enhanced memory limits and other performance gains. Enhanced support for Date/Time parameters is now provided. This update also includes a number of accessibility fixes related to keyboard shortcuts and screen reading tools. Please note that previously installed third-party data providers may need to be updated to their 64-bit versions.

Download – Microsoft Download Center.

Download – Microsoft Store App.



New Power BI visuals’ store experience

Power BI visuals’ embedded store is getting a new look where you can browse all visuals allowed in your organization.

Read more about the new experience here.


And that’s all for our September 2021 release of Power BI Report Server! We hope that you enjoy these updates for this release. 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.

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