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Power BI Developer community June & July update

This blog post covers the latest updates for the Power BI Developer community. Don’t forget to check out our latest developer blog post, if you haven’t done so already.

Here is the list of updates for this month:

Embedded analytics 

Automation & Embed capabilities

Service Principal is generally available

Embed paginated reports into your organization’s apps and portals (preview)

Create and personalize report visuals with Visual Authoring API

Improved rendering performance

Support for the new filter experience in embedded reports

Power BI Embedded in Azure

Know what your Power BI Embedded capacity can handle

New resource creation and pricing experience in Azure portal

New region available for Power BI Embedded in South Africa North

 

Power BI visuals platform

Multi-selection support

Context menu support

Milestones support for the Gantt chart visual

 

Come and meet us!

 

Embedded analytics

 Automation & embed capabilities

Service principal is generally available

We are excited to announce that service principal, released as preview back in February, is now generally available.

Service principal allows you to access resources or perform operations using Power BI API without the need for a user to sign in or have a Power BI Pro license. Service principal can also embed content for non-Power BI users in 3rd party applications.

Since the Preview release, the following capabilities have been added to service principal:

  • Schedule dataset refreshes – since service principal cannot log in to the Power BI portal, it cannot configure scheduled refreshes. To tackle this challenge, we released a new API that configures scheduled refreshes for datasets, so that service principal can use it. Learn more.
  • Share workspaces with service principal – Workspaces can be shared with service principal, just like any other Power BI user, by typing the service principal name in the ‘email address’ field. Power BI will auto complete the service principal name for faster searching.
  • Admin portal – enabling service principal is performed in the Admin portal. Now, a Power BI Admin can enable access to service principals for the entire organization.

Note: it is recommended to enable service principal access only from specific security groups. Learn more

Embed paginated reports into your organization’s internal apps and portals (Preview)

Paginated reports brings a new set of enterprise reporting capabilities to the Power BI service. It enables developers and BI professionals to create and distribute highly formatted, pixel-perfect reports alongside their interactive Power BI content, becoming the first cloud BI solution that combines the power of self-service BI with the needs and capabilities of traditional Enterprise BI scenarios.

 

Today, we’re thrilled to announce the public preview of embedding paginated reports into your organization’s internal applications and portals. As part of this capability, you can simply get the embed URL by calling the GetReports API and use it to embed the paginated report in your application or portal. To get started, you can follow this article with the relevant modifications related to paginated reports.

Other APIs that can help you to automate the embedding of paginated reports by exporting and importing reports are GetImports, PostImport, and ExportReport.

Create and personalize report visuals programmatically with Visual Authoring API

The new and exciting Power BI Report Authoring SDK extension was added recently. This extension allows to programmatically create visuals, bind them to columns, measures, hierarchies, and personalize them by setting properties like axis visibility and titles. Installed custom visuals are supported as well!

Following are several use cases which are supported now by using the new API:

  • ISVs that provide their customers with a friendly 3-4 step wizard for self-creation and personalization of new visuals
  • ISVs that provide their customers with a friendly UI to customize existing reports for further exploration
  • A chatbot that builds embedded visual analytics in the bot, based on user inquiries

Learn more in our wiki, try the Power BI Embedded Playground Quick Visual Creator Showcase and interact with the new APIs in the Sample tool.

Improved rendering performance

The following improvements were added recently:

  • Embedding different reports into the same iframe – allowing apps that provide their end-users with a list of reports to use the same iframe, switch between the reports, and thus achieve better performance than embedding in new iframes. To use this functionality, all you need to do is to call embed() method with the same div element.
    Code example:
    // Embed to reportContainer div element with embed configuration
    powerbi.embed(reportContainerDivElement, embedConfiguration1);
    // Switch to another report on button click
    function onButtonClick() {
        // Embed to THE SAME reportContainer div element with ANOTHER embed configuration
        powerbi.embed(reportContainerDivElement, embedConfiguration2);
    }
  • Query caching for embedded reports – Query caching is now available for embedded reports backed by Power BI Premium or Power BI Embedded capacity. Query Caching speeds up content loading by caching previously used query results. Controlling query caching is done on the dataset settings page in the Power BI service. Learn more.

If you haven’t done it yet, we encourage you to follow the guidelines in the Power BI Embedded performance best practices article. Here are some of the useful tips you can find in the article:

  • Install version 2.6.5 or higher of Power BI client SDK. We continue to release more enhancements, so make sure to follow up from time to time and update your SDK version.
  • Avoid generating the embed URL yourself. Instead, make sure you get the embed URL by calling the Get reportsGet dashboards, or Get tiles API. We added a new parameter to the URL called config, used for performance improvements.

It’s also important to build your reports to be fast and reliable in any platform. Please follow the Power BI performance best practices article to make sure you use the best practices.

Support for the new filter experience in embedded reports

The new filter experience in Power BI reports is now available for embedded reports as well. By turning on the new experience you enjoy the new design and useful features, such as hide, lock, and rename filters. By using the JavaScript SDK – Filters APIs, filters can now be defined with advanced filter pane capabilities.

 

Power BI Embedded in Azure

Know what your Power BI Embedded capacity can handle

A tool for automating load testing of Power BI Embedded capacities was released recently. This tool can help you understand how much user load your capacity can handle when used. It uses PowerShell to create automated load tests against your capacities, and lets you choose which reports to test and how many concurrent users to simulate.

The tool will generate load on a capacity by continuously rendering each report with new filter values (to prevent unrealistically good performance due to report caching) until the token required for authenticating the tool against the service expires.

Using the new tool, capacity administrators can get a better understanding of how many users their capacity can handle in a given time frame. The tool can also be used by report authors that wish to understand the user load effect of performance improvements measured with Power BI desktop’s Performance Analyzer

While the tool is running, users can both see the renders happening in real time on their browsers, as well as connect to the XMLA endpoints of the capacities being measured with SQL Server Profiler to see the queries execute as they come.

As the load test is executing, its effects will also be visible in the premium capacity metrics app’s Datasets page. Capacity admins can use this tool to generate load and see how that load shows up. Be sure to read the Premium Deployment whitepaper section about identifying overload in the metrics app beforehand. The scenarios analyzed in this whitepaper apply for Power BI Embedded capacities as well.

To see the effects of the load test in the metrics app after the test runs, admins should expand the “Datasets” tab of their metrics app landing page and initiate an on-demand refresh by clicking “refresh now”. Admins should expect up to a 15 minutes lag from the time the test starts generating load until the time that load is visible in the metrics.

To host the tool and other future tools and utilities,  we established a new GitHub repository. The entire repository is Open Source and users are welcomed to contribute, add additional tools and repositories related to Power BI Premium and Embedded capacities, and improve the existing ones.

Please be mindful of the existing load on your capacities and make sure not to run load tests during top usage times.
We look forward to hearing your feedback from using the tool and your contributions to the repository!

New resource creation and pricing experience in Azure portal

Users creating and managing Power BI Embedded capacities in Azure, can now enjoy a new user experience in the Azure Portal. The resource creation form is now a full-screen experience, and it displays a summary of the resource before provisioning. It also allows to create a resource with tags, and the pricing cards in resource creation, and scale experiences were replaced by a tabular design.

New region available for Power BI Embedded in South Africa North

Power BI now has its first available region in Africa, located in Johannesburg (South Africa North).

This new region allows customers to locate their Power BI deployments closer to their data sources, either in Azure or on-premises, enabling faster data refresh performance and lower networking egress costs.

With the addition of this new region, Power BI is now available in 19 regions in our global public cloud, in addition to 6 regions in our three national clouds, Power BI for US Government, Power BI Germany, and Power BI China.

Existing public cloud customers can leverage these new regions by deploying Power BI Embedded Multi-Geo capacity. New customers will be automatically provisioned in these regions based on their tenant country and state.

 

 

If you’re puzzled or run into any issues, be sure to check our resources that can help you:

  • ‘Troubleshooting’ doc to help you bypass all the obstacles on your way to building a great app.
  • FAQ doc to answer all your questions regarding the product, licensing, and Azure capacities.
  • Community forum for developers, to seek answers or ask any other questions you have.

 

Power BI Visuals Platform

Multi-selection support

As of API 2.6.1, Power BI visuals created with our SDK (aka custom visuals) support multi-selection, similar to out-of-the box visuals.

Previously, if you wanted to filter out this report based on two data points, for example: “Men” from the first visual below and “OH” from the second visual below (by holding Ctr+ multi-selecting), visuals in the reports were filtered out based on the second selection only, i.e., “OH”

Now, when you multi-select data points as shown below, the rest of the visuals in the report will filter out based on both selections (“Men”+ “OH”), as shown below.

We recommend that you enable this capability for all your visuals to provide a smooth and unified experience to all users.

How to enable this capability?

Simply add “supportsMultiVisualSelection”= “true” to the capabilities of the visual.

Context menu support

Last November we enabled the context menu (right-click menu) for visuals created by our SDK (aka custom visuals).

Users typically hover over data points in a visual for the right-click menu to be available.

To provide a unified and smooth experience to all users using any Power BI visual, we recommend that our developers and partners enable the context menu in their existing and new visuals’ submissions. We also updated our guidelines for Power BI visuals.

This is a heads-up that we’ll add this as a new requirement to our submission process for any new visuals or any updates of existing visuals in September.

For more details please check out this article.

For any question and help please reach out to pbicvsupport@microsoft.com

Milestones for our Gantt chart visual

We’re excited to announce that the most requested feature for our Gantt chart is available in the recent version.

Now users can create new types of a task (Milestone) to show important stages in the project.

Please download the sample report to see Milestones in action.

As always, feel free to use all the communication channels at your disposal to connect with our team, share your thoughts and ask questions:

 

Come and meet us!

Aviv Ezrachi, the Group Product Manager of Power BI for Developers, is delivering a breakout session about Power BI Embedded at the Data Platform Summit 2019 – Bengaluru India, Aug 22-24. Be sure not to miss it!

 

That’s all for this post. We hope you found it useful. Please continue sending us your feedback – it’s very important for us! Have an amazing feature in mind? Please share it or vote in our Power BI Embedded Analytics Ideas forum, or our Custom Visuals Ideas forum.