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Power BI Desktop July feature summary

Headshot of article author Filip Karadzic

Hello everyone! This month we are introducing some features that will enhance the overall user experience.  A few new and exciting features we’ve been working on like the analytics pane, including dynamic reference lines, just missed the cut-off for this month, but we’ll be looking to bring them to you in August.


This is what we’ve got for the July release of Power BI Desktop:


Report View:

  • Predefined table styles
  • ShapeMap can use custom maps


Data Connectivity:

  • New Data Connectors:
    • Amazon Redshift (Import + DirectQuery) (Preview)
    • Impala (Import) (Preview) 
  • Improvements to existing data connectors:
    • Support for specifying a Command Timeout via the UX
    • CSV/Text – Support for Fixed-Width delimited files
    • SAP BW connector improvements:


Query Editing Improvements:

  • Ability to use R scripts in Query Editor
  • Query Parameters – List Query output as “allowed values” for a parameter
  • Ability to overwrite existing user-defined functions

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

Report View

Predefined table styles

A couple of months ago, we introduced configurable styling of the table visual, allowing Desktop users to control many aspects of the table’s look. In this release we are introducing a set of predefined table styles that allow you to quickly choose the look of your table. Once selected, the style will set the needed formatting properties of the table and allow you to fine tune the look by modifying any of the individual properties available.

To select a table style, edit the Format -> Table style properties.

Note that this feature is currently available in Power BI Desktop and will be available on the Power BI service shortly (within a few days).

More details about predefined table styles in the following video:

Shape Map can use custom maps (Preview)

With the addition of custom map usage, Shape Map is enabled with its defining feature.

To use a custom map with Shape Map it must be in the TopoJSON format.  If it is in another format, you can use online tools like Map Shaper to convert your shapefiles or GeoJSON maps to the TopoJSON format.

Once you have a custom TopoJSON map, you can use it with Shape Map.  Simply add the ShapeMap visual to your report, and add some data to the Location and Values buckets.  Then under Format | Shape options, select the Add Map button and then your TopoJSON file.


The map will display the data on your custom map.

If you are having issues mapping your data to the map regions, you can select View Map Keys to see all the region keys the selected map is using to match to the data.

More details about using custom maps with Shape Map in the following video:

Data Connectivity Features

New Data Connectors

We have added two new data connectors in this release: Amazon Redshift and Impala. These two connectors are currently available as Preview and only supported in Power BI Desktop at the moment. Support for and Enterprise Gateway refresh will come in a future release.

Amazon Redshift (Preview)

This connector provides connectivity to Amazon Redshift in Power BI Desktop, including both Import and DirectQuery connectivity modes, enabling full flexibility in terms of connectivity options for Report Authoring.

In order to try this connector, users have to first enable the Preview feature. This can be done via the Options dialog (File -> Options and Settings -> Options), under the “Preview Features” tab.


After enabling this Preview feature, the Amazon Redshift connector can be found in the “Get Data” dialog, under the “Database” tab.



Impala (Preview)

The second new connector this month is the Impala connector. This connector enables users to import data from an Impala cluster. In this release, only Import connectivity mode is supported, but we plan to also enable DirectQuery soon.

In order to try this connector, users have to first enable the Preview feature. This can be done via the Options dialog (File -> Options and Settings -> Options), under the “Preview Features” tab.

After enabling the Preview feature, the Impala connector can be found in the “Get Data” dialog, under the “Database” category.


Improvements to existing data connectors

In addition to lighting up new data connectors every month, our team also gives high importance to improve existing connectors based on customer feedback.

This month, we’re improving 4 of our existing connectors: Web, CSV, Text and SAP BW.


Web – Support for specifying a Command Timeout via the UX

In this release, we’re enhancing the Web connector to allow users to specify a Command Timeout value from the connector UX dialog. Before this release, this could only be achieved by customizing the underlying M query.

In the Web connector, users can switch between Basic and Advanced modes. In the Advanced mode, users can now optionally specify a Command Timeout value.



CSV & Text Connectors – Support for Fixed-Width delimited files

Users can now easily import data from fixed-width delimited CSV and Text files. With this release of Power BI Desktop, users can specify a list of positions to split by in the Table Preview dialog, as part of the Text/CSV import experience.



SAP BW Connector Improvements

The SAP BW connector has been available for a few months as a Preview connector. During this period, we have been listening to customers’ feedback and made a number of improvements to the connector. This month we’re making a few additional enhancements to this connector based on your feedback:

  • Support for NetWeaver driver: Before this update, the SAP BW connector required users to install the librfc32.dll from the SAP support portal. Starting with this update, the SAP BW connector will instead rely on the SAP NetWeaver driver. Please note that you will have to ensure that this driver is configured in your machine in order to continue running existing reports, both via Power BI Desktop and the Power BI Enterprise Gateway. The SAP NetWeaver driver can be downloaded from the SAP Support portal, and it is usually deployed as part of the SAP BW Client Tools installation so for many end users this requirement might already be met in their machines.
  • Ability to specify a language when connecting to an SAP BW server: With this release, users can now optionally specify a language code for their SAP BW server when establishing a connection. Before this release, the SAP BW language code was not customizable. If no language code is specified, the Current File locale will be used.
  • Error messages are now localized: Before this release, SAP BW connector error messages were English only. With this release, they’re now localized and will match the Power BI Desktop installation language.

Query Editing Improvements

Use R scripts inside the Query Editor

You can now take advantage of R inside the Query Editor to perform data cleansing, advanced data shaping, and analytics in datasets including completion of missing data, predictions, and clustering, just to name a few.

To add an R script to your query processing, select Run R Script from the Query Editor, Transform tab:


In the pop-up you can enter your R script:


You can expect your dataset to be updated with the changes made by the script.

Note that you need to have R installed locally in order to take advantage of this feature. You will also need to change the privacy setting of all data sources to public in order for the script to be performed on those data sources.

Look out for an in-depth blog post on this subject coming soon to this space.


Query Parameters – List Query output as “allowed values” for a parameter

One of the areas of feedback about the Query Parameters feature that we introduced a couple of months ago was being able to dynamically calculate the list of “allowed values” for a given parameter based on another query, instead of having to provide a static list of values in the “Manage Parameters” dialog. With this month’s update, customers can link to another query from which the list of Allowed Values for a Query Parameter should be retrieved.


After defining which List Query to use for retrieving the list of allowed values for a parameter, users will get the list of values in the “Edit Parameters” dialog or as part of the “Import Template” experience.

Note that only queries that yield a List are supported for this feature and that this “dynamic list” is only supported in Power BI Desktop consumption scenarios. When providing Query Parameter values in, users will have to manually input the desired value in a text input field, rather than being able to pick from a list of values.


Ability to overwrite existing user-defined functions

Last month, we released a new feature that allows users to create a function based on an existing query. If such query contained any Query Parameters, those parameters would become function parameters. This feature can be accessed as a right-click menu option in the Queries pane within the Query Editor.

This month, we’re making it possible for users to overwrite functions when exporting multiple times from the same query.

That’s all the updates for Power BI Desktop in July. We hope that you find these features useful and continue sending us feedback on how to make Desktop even better.


Additional resources: