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Power BI Desktop August 2020 Feature Summary

Headshot of article author Sujata Narayana

We have exciting updates this month! The updates include support for Perspectives in Personalize visuals, rectangular select for data points, dynamic formatting support to more visuals, Direct Query support for Q&A, several new AppSource visuals, and more! Check out the full blog to learn more about all the updates and enhancements.

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Here’s the list of August updates:




Template Apps

Data Preparation

Data connectivity

To see demos of the highlights check out the video below:


Perspectives support for Personalize visuals (preview)

As a refresher, Personalize visuals is a preview feature that will allow your end-users to make inline tweaks to visualizations in the reading view. For example, your end-user can change a measure or dimension or add a legend. Previously, if you had a large data model, there was no way to pick a more manageable subset fields to not overwhelm your report readers with all fields in the model. Now, in this release we are adding Perspectives support for Personalize visuals, which will allow you to choose a subset of a model that provides a more focused view.


  • Perspectives are not meant to be used as a security mechanism, but as a tool for providing a better end-user experience. All security for a perspective is inherited from the underlying model.
  • Perspectives in both tabular and multi-dimensional models are supported. However, for perspectives in multi-dimensional models you can only set the perspective to be the same as the base cube for the report.

As a pre-requisite, you will need to enable Personalize visuals for the report, and you will need to create one or more Perspectives that include the dimensions and measures that you want your end-users to interact with for the Personalize visuals experience.

To create the perspective, you will need to use Tabular Editor, which you can download here.

Once you have downloaded Tabular Editor, you can open up your report in Power BI Desktop and launch Tabular Editor from the External Tools tab of the ribbon:

Then you will need to right-click on Perspectives folder to create a new perspective:

You can double click the text to rename the perspective if you would like:

Next, you will need to add fields to the perspective. You can do this by opening the Tables folder and right-clicking on the fields you want to show in the perspective:

Repeat this for all the fields you want to add to the perspective. Note that you can’t add duplicate fields to a perspective so if you already added it to a perspective you will see the option for that perspective is disabled.

After you have added all the fields be sure to save both in Tabular Editor and then also in Power BI.

After you save the new perspective to the model and save the Power BI report, navigate to the Format pane for the page, where there is a new section for Personalize visual.

Report-reader perspective is set to Default fields initially; however, when you open the dropdown you will see the other Perspectives you’ve created:

Once for you have set the Perspective for that page, the Personalize visuals experience for that page will be filtered down to that Perspective.

Using Apply to all pages, you can also choose to apply your Perspective setting to all existing pages in your report.

Rectangular lasso select for data points (preview)

Back in April, we released rectangle select for visuals, giving you a more convenient way to select multiple visuals at once. This month, we’re bringing you a preview of that functionality now extended to data points for line, area, and scatter charts.


When editing a report, you’ll be able to create a selection rectangle by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking and dragging within a visual. When you let go of the mouse, all points overlapping the selection rectangle will be selected. Your previous selections will be preserved, and already-selected data points will be unselected — it will be as though you held down the Ctrl key and individually clicked every single point that overlaps the selection rectangle.

If you click and drag while holding down the Shift key instead, your previous selections will be preserved, but this time your already-selected data points will remain selected — this key is strictly for adding data points to your selection, not removing.

As always, you can clear your current selection by clicking an empty space on the plot area (without holding down any key).

When viewing a report, in addition to the above controls, you will be able to create a selection rectangle with a simple click and drag within a visual. This action will count as starting a new selection and will not preserve your currently selected points.

This action is not available in edit mode because clicking and dragging within a visual, with no held keys, moves the visual instead.


  • Line, area, and scatter chart support rectangle select. We plan to add support for more visuals in the coming releases.
  • The number of data points you can select at once is limited to 300.
  • When viewing a report in the Service, rectangle select will be enabled only if the preview feature was enabled when the report was saved and published on Desktop

Added dynamic formatting support to more visuals

Back in 2017, we released cell-level formatting for multidimensional AS model and cell-level formatting for multidimensional AS models for multi-row card.

Dynamic format strings, also known as cell-level formatting, enable users to set a different format strings for each measure data point. So, each column in a column chart or each row in a table can be formatted differently.

Here’s an example:


Originally, we supported this for the older version of table and matrix, the current table and matrix, card, and multi-row card.

Now this month, we are adding dynamic formatting for the following visuals:

  • column chart
  • bar chart
  • stacked column chart
  • stacked bar chart
  • scatter chart
  • line chart
  • area chart
  • map
  • shape map
  • waterfall chart
  • donut chart
  • pie chart
  • tree map

Note that dynamic format strings are applied to:

  • Measure values on tooltips
  • Measure values data labels
  • Measure axes


Direct Query support for Q&A (preview)

We are excited to announce that Q&A now supports SQL Direct Query sources including SQL Server 2019, Azure SQL database and Azure Synapse Analytics. You can now go ahead and use Q&A to ask natural language questions against these data sources. Prior to this update, Q&A was not available for datasets with any Direct Query sources. You will also notice one minor change to the behavior of Q&A when it is operating in Direct Query mode. There is now a submit button which is now available when typing in your question. This is to prevent overloading the Direct Query source with unnecessary queries as the user types.

Note: Other Direct Query sources are not supported for Q&A. We don’t block Q&A altogether if you have other Direct Query sources in your dataset, but some questions may not be answered correctly or return errors.


Linear Gauge by xViz

xViz has released a new PBI Certified version (1.1.5) of the Linear Gauge with new Gauge option – ‘Progress Bar’ for advanced use cases. Improved UX with data label enhancements for better positioning and formatting capabilities for newly added vertical orientated Linear gauge. Apart from this axis formatting, gauge width and margin settings have been added for additional design flexibility.

The following are the list of new features added to xViz Linear Gauge:

  • New Gauge Type – Progress Bar
  • Custom Data Labels for each Tier
  • Tier Label with for active label option
  • Tier Limits – Start and end range for each Tier
  • Horizontal and vertical Orientation
  • Conditional formatting improvements
  • Data Label enhancements
    • Placement options – Inside/ outside and left/ right /center /top/ bottom
    • Display option – Actual value/ percentage / both.
    • Enhance look and feel – Separate font size, weight, and color
  • Gauge width and margin for better label positioning
  • Axis label formatting – scaling, show Nth label

Download  the latest version of this visual on AppSource.

Advanced Pie & Donut by xViz

xViz Advanced Pie and Donut  provides several chart options, covering both Pie and Donut chart use cases into a single visual. Pie charts help visualize part-to-whole relationships with a max of 6 slices or less for comfortable viewing. Along with semi-circle pie and 3D option, it also supports variable width pie use case, which requires two values and one category field.
Donut charts are a variant of Pie chart with blank center that provides a better data intensity ratio and added visual appeal.


The following are the list of key features for xViz Advanced Pie and Donut chart:

  • Several Chart Options – Pie, Semi Circle Pie, Variable width pie, Donut, Arc Donut
  • Top N Ranking with ‘Others’ – Display top items and group rest as Others
  • Donut charts with Totals in the middle
  • 3D Styling of Pie and Donut charts
  • Styling options – Set patterns for individual slices to make them stand out
  • Gradient coloring
  • Data Label Formatting
  • Number Formatting
  • Drilldown
  • Conditional Formatting

Download the latest version of the visual on AppSource.

Ratings visual by TME AG

This new visual provides a variety of rating options for various performance indicators.


  • Ratings can be displayed in different indicator styles including stars, circles, etc.
  • It shows progress in percentage
  • It shows selected stars/total stars

Formatting options:

  • Six different shapes are available
  • Rating indicators count can be changed
  • Indicator selection and deselection color can be set
  • Display shadow
  • Show and hide percentage and selected indicator value and set their position top or bottom
  • Change label colors with their font size and font family

Download the visual from AppSource.

Toggle switch by TME AG

This new visual acts as a trigger to show and hide data with a toggle switch.


  • It works best with string data types
  • User can choose multiple values for switch ON and OFF but these values must be separated by a comma
  • It can accept an unlimited number of values for ON and OFF
  • User can set switch color

Download the visual from AppSource.

Drill down Pie PRO by ZoomCharts

Drill Down Pie PRO is already the 8th visual in the ZoomCharts Advanced Visuals suit, which has recently been rebranded to Drill Down Visuals.

As the name suggest, visual has ZoomCharts signature drilldown functionality, as well as smooth animations and rich customization options.

These features enable report developers to create Power BI reports that business users absolutely love – visually appealing and with intuitive, quick and easy data exploration experience on any device.

For example, with multilevel drilldown users can explore data categories by clicking directly on the slice. Visual clues will indicate the number of drilldown levels available as well as serve as a navigation guide.

Key features that both report creators and report consumers will appreciate are:

  • Others slice – define the number of slices visible, automatically group the rest of the data together under separate slice
  • Data sorting – sort slices in ascending or descending order by value or category name
  • Rich customization options – set color for each slice, adjust value labels, add legends. Set fill color mode, fonts sizes and colors, customize tooltip.
  • Measure support – add and visualize your own calculations
  • Touch-driven slicer – filter the report page by using the visual itself (no need for external slicers)
  • On-chart interactions –click or touch to drill down, select and filter data
  • Mobile friendly – use on touch and multi-touch devices

Download the visual from AppSource.


Plan, roadmap, and time schedule phases and milestones using ADWISE RoadMap. This visual can help you present your project, product or campaign plans, or plans of whatever else that can be time-scheduled.

Present your phases as well as key milestones in all-in-one view. Additionally, the visuals includes several settings to adjust the look and feel to meet your company design needs.

Use cases for presentation and management of:

  • Project portfolio / single project
  • Transition / change management plans
  • Product features roadmap / development / market introduction
  • Various campaigns

Key features of the visual:

  • Bars/Phases – title, description, color based on your own categories/values
  • Milestones – title, color and shape based on your own categories/values
  • Groups specification and labeling
  • Two timelines with adjustable scale, positioning and labeling
  • Today and target lines with custom text
  • Other adjustments – font type, size, weight and style, text wrapping, gridlines, etc.

Download this visual from AppSource.


Updates to ArcGIS Maps

ArcGIS Maps for Power BI is a mapping visual available within the Microsoft Power BI out-of-box – no need to install a separate plug-in or extension. Just click on the Esri icon and start visualizing your data on maps. It works with Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service. In this release, we have added multiple tools in the format pane that enable Power BI report authors to provide additional capabilities to the viewers.

Get started quickly with a new login screen

All Power BI users can use ArcGIS Maps for Power BI by simply clicking on the Esri visual and then dragging data to the location field. You can geocode, detect patterns in your data with different map styles and find similar or nearby locations. You can also access US demographics and infographics information to gain better context and make smarter decisions.

With an ArcGIS account and Maps for Power BI add-on license, you can sign in with your ArcGIS credentials by choosing either ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise. Signing in as an ArcGIS user unlocks additional features for Power BI users. You can now bring in data from your ArcGIS organization into Power BI and analyze it with other data, geocode more points per map, add multiple reference layers and access Esri’s global curated data.


Access all tools at one place in a new design

With this release, you will notice a new interface. You can now easily access all tools at one place. Click on the “Analysis” widget to see the tools that you need to analyze the data you have mapped. Click on the “Settings” widget to access help or on the “Basemaps” widget to select a basemap for your data. All Power BI users can now also access 2020 demographics data that is curated by Esri. If you have an ArcGIS account and Maps for Power BI add-on license, then you can access a wider collection of data from the Living Atlas of the World.


Customize your Power BI reports with new formatting tools

This release includes “Lock extent” a new tool that restricts map panning to a new area and can be accessed under the “Map Tools” tab. By enabling this feature, you can ensure that your Power BI report viewers only see the location that you have preselected in your report. The map does not pan even if a user searches for a location that happens to be outside the selected location.

To provide users with more flexibility with map presentation, we have added an option to display demographics cards and table of contents on either side of a map by choosing “Layers Position” under the “Layers” tab. Power BI report authors now also have an option to turn the “layers” feature on or off for report viewers. If report authors want to ensure that the table of contents stays on the map always, they can do so by simple turning the anchor button on.

Additionally, Power BI report authors now have an option to turn the zoom feature on or off for report viewers.


Create informative maps quickly with Smart Mapping

In this release, we have improved the smart mapping functionality of ArcGIS Maps for Power BI. Smart mapping functionality automatically analyzes your data and makes data-driven styling suggestions, meaning less guesswork for you. Now with an improved color ramp, you can more clearly visualize the different categories in which your data is divided on a map. You can also make more accurate heatmaps to clearly identify the location that has the maximum density of an attribute. Additionally, now when you drag addresses to the location field well, the visual automatically detects the data type and creates polygons or points on the map as appropriate.


Pin locations more accurately with the new Geosearch Service

With the new and improved geosearch feature, all Power BI report users can easily type an address in the search bar, find the right location and pin it on the map. Power BI report authors also have an option to turn the geosearch feature on if they would like to provide an option of geosearching to report viewers. The pinned location is displayed on the map, but it’s not stored for later use.

Extending Admin capabilities for AppSource visuals

We are happy to announce that we are extending Admin capabilities relating to AppSource visuals. AppSource visuals can now be managed in Admin portal.

AppSource visuals will retain certification and will continue to be updated automatically when a new version is available in AppSource. Note that changes to Power BI visuals settings will not affect the organizational visuals.

Additionally, Power BI admins can pick any visual to show up automatically in the visualization pane of the entire signed-on organization members, in Desktop or the Service.

The visual icon will show side by side with the default visuals.

To learn more, check out our documentation.

Template Apps

Agile CRM Analytics for Dynamics 365

Agile CRM Analytics is a set of Power BI analytical reports for Microsoft Dynamics 365 to give you better insights from your CRM data. This is a free trial version to show you the possibilities and test-drive it.

With the Agile CRM Analytics, the Sales and Marketing teams are equipped with shareable, actionable insights that help illuminate what’s working and what isn’t, where the opportunities are, and what needs to be prioritized to scale the team’s success.

How to connect data 

You will need to enter your URL for the Dynamics 365 API:

The dataset will start refreshing and schedule refresh is set automatically to keep your data fresh.

Download Agile CRM Analytics from AppSource.

Data Preparation

Text/CSV By Example (preview)

We’re pleased to announce that “Text/CSV By Example” in Power Query is now available as a public preview feature. To start using “Text/CSV By Example”, enable “Import text using examples” in the Options > Preview Features page.

We’d love to hear from you about how this new magic feature behaves against your specific Text/CSV files. Please share any issues you run into with this feature.

What’s included in this feature?
When using the Text/CSV connector, you will see a new option to “Extract Table Using Examples” on the bottom-left corner of the file preview dialog.

Upon clicking that new button, you’ll be taken into the “Extract Table Using Examples” experience allowing you to specify sample output values for the data you’d like to extract from your Text/CSV file.

Once you’re done constructing that table, you can click Load/Transform to complete the Get Data flow. Notice how the resulting queries contain a detailed breakdown of all the steps that were inferred for the data extraction, which are just regular query steps that you can customize as needed.

Data Connectivity

Cherwell connector

Transform your business one amazing experience at a time with Cherwell Service Management (CSM) enables real-time collaboration and accelerates incident resolution.

The Cherwell connector allows you to bring data from your instance of Cherwell Service Management into Microsoft Power BI for analysis and reporting.

This connector will be available in the Other section of the Get data dialog.

Automation Anywhere connector

Automation Anywhere is a leading Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform that enables automation of Enterprise business processes. The Power BI connector from Automation Anywhere enables a business user to easily integrate RPA data in their corporate Power BI dashboards without relying on IT resources to create custom integration solutions. The Power BI connecter can retrieve operational, strategic and business metrics from Automation Anywhere’s RPA platform.

Depending on the version of your Automation Anywhere deployment, you can learn more from the online documentation at A2019 or Version 11.

This connector will be available in the Other section of the Get data dialog.

Acterys connector

Acterys is an integrated platform for Data Warehouse Automation, Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and Financial Planning & Analytics (FP&A) for Microsoft Azure, Power BI and Excel.
It enables users to achieve results in minutes, and replace disparate legacy solutions with a single, cost effective and unified platform for all their analytics, planning, forecasting, consolidation and project planning requirements. With the new Acterys Power BI Connector users can now connect to their Acterys environment with one click (without the need to access the database directly or setting up a Power BI dataset) and add the required models to Power BI governed by their Acterys (Active Directory/ Microsoft Account) user rights and audit trails.

This connector will be available in the Other section of the Get data dialog.

That’s all for this month! Please continue sending us your feedback and don’t forget to vote for other features that you’d like to see in Power BI Desktop. We hope that you enjoy the update!

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