One Step Closer to Simplifying Data Analysis and Visualization, New Features Added to Power BI for Office 365 and Power Query Add-in for Excel Preview
Microsoft Friday, December 13, 2013
Today we’re pleased to announce the addition of significant new features to both the Power BI for Office 365 and the Power Query add-in for Excel previews. Introduced in July and currently in preview, Power BI for Office 365 is a cloud based solution that reduces the barriers to deploying a self-service Business Intelligence environment for sharing live Excel based reports and data queries as well as new features that enable data discovery and information access from anywhere and from any device.
One of the Power BI features users have been most interested in is Q&A, which takes data exploration to a whole new level. With Q&A, users type ad-hoc questions and the system provides them with answers in the form of interactive charts and graphs. The search like experience is instantaneous and uses natural language query, interpreting the semantics of question the user is typing. We’ve received great responses from customers who have tested this capability on the preview sample data. Today we enable the ability to explore your own data with Q&A. You can add your own models to Q&A and begin to explore them with natural language query.
Try Q&A today by uploading your workbook to your Power BI Site. Do this by clicking on the add link and selecting “Upload file”. This will upload and enable your workbook for use in the Power BI site.
After your workbook has been enabled, click on the three dots on the thumbnail for your workbook and select “Add to Q&A”:
One you’ve completed these steps you can navigate to the Q&A question by clicking the “Search with Power BI Q&A” link in the upper right hand corner of your Power BI site:
Also, keeping in line with our goal to make Excel the only tool you need for data analysis and visualization, we are also excited to announce updates to the Power Query add-in for Excel preview, introducing new data source support and usability enhancements.
Connectivity to New Data Sources
- Exchange: We add support for connecting to your Microsoft Exchange account and retrieving information about your Mail, Calendar, People, Tasks and Meeting Requests.
- Dynamics CRM Online: We enhance Power Query’s OData support to consume OData feeds from Dynamics CRM Online.
- JSON light support: We enabled consumption of JSON light OData feeds via the “From OData” experience.
- Sybase IQ: We add Sybase IQ to our list of supported databases.
Below is an example of a simple visualization created by connecting to your exchange account.
Automatic Detection of table relationships:
- Last month we improved how you connect to databases by providing navigation to the list of databases and tables and providing import of multiple tables. This month we add relationship detection between these tables automatically creating the relationships in the model for you.
Transformations in the Query Editor:
- New additions to the Query Editor ribbon include:
- Number Transformations: If you have used the “Transform” menu in the ribbon or context menus, you will have noticed transformations for Text and Date/Time/Timezone columns. In this update, we have added new transformations that can be applied to Number columns.
- Fill Down: You can now use the “Fill Down” button in the ribbon to fill values down within the selected column(s), filling empty cells in the column with the value of the first non-empty cell above them.
- Sort Ascending/Descending: Easily define a sort criteria for selected column(s) by using Sort Ascending/Descending buttons in the ribbon.
Improvements to Search:
- Search for Certified results: Last month we introduced Certified Shared Queries. We now add an option to the Search ribbon to allow you to narrow your search to only certified results if you choose.
- Enabling copy of Name and Description on Search results: We thank you for your preview feedback! A consistent request has been for the ability to copy the name and description of a Search result into your clipboard. This is now possible by right-clicking on these two fields in the Search results fly-outs.
Finally, the Power BI team is excited to announce the launch of our updated website www.powerbi.com. The new site has a fresh new look and was designed with you in mind.
Here's a quick look at what's different:
- New user-friendly navigation
- Easy access to the Power BI blog
- New support sections
- New content about features
- New social and sharing capabilities
We hope that you enjoy these new features and usability improvements. Don’t hesitate to let us know your thoughts through the forums and through the Smile/Frown feature.