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Power BI September 2020 Feature Summary

Headshot of article author Jeroen ter Heerdt

Starting this month, we have merged the Power BI Desktop, Service and Mobile blogs, so there is one overview of everything that is new in this month. Many thanks to Sujata and Nikhil for owning the Desktop and Service/Mobile blogs! We are planning several other changes to the blog, so stay tuned.

After 10 years, support for Windows 7 ended on January 14, 2020. In line with this, we will be stopping support for Power BI Desktop on Windows 7 on Jan 31st 2021. After that, Power BI Desktop will only be supported on Windows 8 and newer. The January 2021 release of Power BI Desktop Optimized for Report Server will be supported as per the Modern Lifecycle Policy i.e. supported until the next release (currently scheduled for May 2021), after which it will only receive security updates until January 2022, after which support will stop.

We are also making a change to the version of .NET that is required to run Power BI Desktop. Starting from the October release you’ll need to have .NET 4.6.2 or greater installed. This is installed by default with Windows 10 and for older versions of Windows the Power BI Desktop installer will launch the .NET installer for you.

Let’s get started because we have exciting updates this month!

Amongst others, in the analytics area, we introduce a preview of the Smart narratives visual which helps you quickly summarize visuals and reports by providing relevant out-of-the-box insights which is customizable. On the reporting side, several things are added, including the introduction of controls for the z-order of visuals, and searching for a workspace during publish. For modeling, the enhanced dataset metadata that was previously in preview is now generally available. In the service, we introduce new capabilities in the lineage view, updates to analyze in Excel and have made deployment pipelines generally available.

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Here is the full list of September updates:






Data connectivity



Template Apps


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

Download the Power BI Desktop file with the demos in this blog.



Smart narratives (preview)

Many times, we see users use PowerPoint, text boxes, interactive headers, or custom visuals to add narrative to their data.  All these options either lack interactive data, interactive and customizable text, or useful automatic insights. We are excited to announce the preview of Smart narrative visual which can help you with this. The Smart narrative visualization helps you quickly summarize visuals and reports by providing relevant out-of-the-box insights which is customizable.

Using this feature creators can add narratives to their report to address key takeaways, point out trends, and edit the language and format it to fit a specific audience. Instead of pasting a screenshot of their report in PowerPoint with key takeaways added, they can now add narratives to the report that are updated with every refresh. Your end-users can use the narratives to understand their data, get to the key points faster, and explain the data to others.

Since this feature is in preview, you will need to first turn on the feature switch by going to File > Options and Settings > Options > Preview feature and make sure Smart narrative visual is turned on:



Clicking on the new smart narratives icon in the visualization pane creates narrative based on all the visuals on the page.


You can also right click a visual and select ‘summarize’. This will generate an automatic summary of that visualization. For example, Power BI analyses the scatter chart visual showing the various transactions and shows which city/region has the highest revenue per transaction and highest number of transactions:


The summary is highly customizable where you can add new text or edit the existing text using the same controls available in the regular text box.

You can also customize the summary by adding dynamic values. You can map text to existing fields and measures or use natural language to define new measure to map to text.

The summary is dynamic and automatically updates the generated text and dynamic values when you cross filter.

Please try out this visual while it is in preview. We greatly appreciate any feedback in terms of what you liked about the feature and how we can improve it!

Read more at this blog.

Q&A now supports arithmetic operations

We are happy to announce that Q&A now supports the following arithmetic operations:

  • Addition (+)
  • Subtraction (-)
  • Division (/)
  • Multiplication (*)

This new feature is useful if want to ask questions that require a mathematical expression, such as adding measures together or multiplying a measure by a scalar value.

To enforce a specific order of operations, you can use an open and closed parenthesis as shown in the following example:


Data point rectangle select for additional charts

Last month, we released the preview version of data point rectangle select, making it available for line, area, and scatter charts. This month, we are extending it to the bar and combo charts. Now you can draw a rectangle to select data points on the stacked bar/column, clustered bar/column, 100% stacked bar/column, line and stacked column, and line and clustered column charts as well.

Remember to enable this preview feature in the Preview features section of the Options menu and please continue to send feedback on the feature!

Added general visual option to maintain layer order

Typically, when you select an object on the canvas, it will be automatically brought to the front, above other overlapping visuals. Clicking away from it will return it to its original position. While this behavior is intended and necessary (for example, to allow access to header menus), sometimes you would like an object, like a shape or background image, to stay in the background even when you accidentally click on them while viewing a report.

Now you can set any visual to stay in place rather than being brought to front upon selection: just turn on the Maintain layer order toggle for that visual in the General card of the formatting pane.

Keep in mind this will adjust behavior for reading view only.

Search for a workspace during publish

We are happy to announce the addition of one of our popular user requests: searching your list of available workspaces during the publishing process! After entering the publishing dialog, you will now see a search bar at the top of your list of available workspaces that will allow you to filter them.

Total labels for stacked visuals

You can now turn on total labels for your stacked bar/column, stacked area, and line and stacked column charts, allowing you to see the aggregates of your data at a glance:

If your chart has a field in the Legend (for stacked bar/column) or Column Series (for combo) field well, you can enable total labels in its card in the formatting pane:


You will also be able to format the text of the labels, show a background color around them (for example, to provide contrast with the visual background), adjust their transparency, and decide if you would like to sum the positive and negative values of your columns separately.

Mobile authoring enhancements

Bookmark pane is now available in the Mobile layout view

Starting with this release, when you are working on your mobile optimized layout using the Mobile view you can open the Bookmark pane and select a bookmark to see how it impacts the report in the mobile layout, without the need to go back to the web view.

New options: turn off gridlines and snap to grid.

We introduced a new option to remove the “Gridlines” from the canvas, so you can view the report without the square boxes – just like it will look on a real phone.

You can also remove the “Snap to grid” constraint when designing the mobile optimized layout. This will let you create a pixel perfect report, since you can place visuals anywhere on the canvas.


Improved navigation tree (iOS and Android)

Now you can get around your content quickly and easily with a new navigation tree, available from the header drop down in reports, dashboards, and apps. You see the location hierarchy of your content at a glance, and you can easily navigate up the content hierarchy, go to sibling content, or even get quickly back to your home page. If the item you are viewing is part of an app, the tree displays the entire contents of the app: sections, links, and all reports and dashboards. If the item you are viewing is a report, you’ll also find a list of all visible report pages. It has never been so easy to get from one page to another. Check out this blog to lean more!

Share from Power BI using your favorite apps (iOS and Android)

Now you can share links to Power BI content with your contacts. Use the new share action in the header to send the link, using any collaboration app you have on your device, such as Microsoft Teams, a mail app, etc. The link captures the current view, so you can even share filtered report views.

Pinch and zoom is now available in all report views – on both phones and tablets (iOS and Android)

We have enabled pinch and zoom in all report views, making it easier for you to zoom in and out of your report content, whether you are on your phone or on your tablet.

Auto play a slideshow on startup (Windows)

You can choose a report to automatically play in a slideshow when the Power BI Windows app is launched. This is useful for creating a kiosk-like experience that runs a report in public displays without any manual intervention. Read more about this functionality.


New capabilities in lineage view

Search within lineage view

We have introduced search within lineage view to improve your productivity while using lineage view.

With the new search box, you can search across all the content in your workspace, quickly find items in the graph, view their lineage, and explore their metadata by clicking on the card.

To use the search, either type CTRL+F on the keyboard or click the search box on the top menu. Use keyboard Enter or a mouse click to move to the next search result.

When you search in lineage view, you can find what you’re looking for by searching for the artifact name (e.g. Sales report). You can also find it by typing any detail that is displayed on the card itself, for example, data source type and connection details, external workspace name and gateway.

Data source impact analysis

A few months ago we introduced dataset impact analysis, and now we have released data source impact analysis. With one click you can now check which datasets and dataflows across the whole Power BI tenant use a specific data source.

Here are few scenarios that can greatly benefit from this release:

  1. When a data source (e.g. an SQL database) is temporarily or permanently taken offline, and you want to get an idea about who is impacted.
  2. When you build a certified dataset or dataflow that gets data from a specific data source (e.g. a CSV file in Azure Blob storage) and you want everyone who uses this data source to start using your certified dataset rather than other datasets that use the same source. By eliminating dataset redundancy in this way you:
    1. Reduce the load on both Power BI and the source system.
    2. Create a single version of the truth and a single model that has to be maintained.

Once you see the lineage between the data source and the datasets and dataflows that are built on top of it, the next step in some cases is to contact the dataset and dataflow owners. With Notify-Contacts, data source owners can let dataset and dataflow owners know about problems or changes in the data-source. Notify-Contacts can be also used to ask dataset and dataflow owners to stop using a certain data source and to use instead a certified or promoted dataset or dataflow.

Excel inherits the Power BI dataset’s sensitivity label when using a PivotTable connection

Excel is very popular with Power BI users, especially for analyzing Power BI data using a PivotTable. We now extend sensitivity label inheritance from Power BI to Excel files to include PivotTable connection: a sensitivity label applied on a Power BI dataset will automatically be applied on the Excel file when you create a PivotTable in Excel.

If the label on the dataset later changes to a more restrictive one, the label applied on the Excel file will automatically update upon data refresh in Excel. If the dataset’s sensitivity label is less restrictive than the Excel file’s sensitivity label, no label inheritance or update takes place. Sensitivity labels in Excel that were manually set are not automatically overwritten by the dataset’s label. If Excel file has a manually set label, a policy tip will show with a recommendation to upgrade the label.

Available for customers with Microsoft 365 E3 and above. Read more in this blog.

Analyze in Excel provides Excel file instead of .ODC

Now when you click on Analyze in Excel in the Power BI service it will download an Excel file that includes a PivotTable connection to the Power BI dataset, instead of the .ODC file that was used until now. This makes it easier to jump in right away. More information is available in our documentation.


Deployment pipelines is now generally available

Deployment pipelines allows content creators to improve Power BI content publishing efficiency and accuracy by moving it through development, test, and production environments. Next to making them generally available, this release includes support in incremental refresh, government clouds availability and improved user experiences. Read more in this blog.


Enhanced Dataset Metadata is now generally available

Enhanced dataset metadata is now generally available. In the past, only loadable queries generated in Power Query were mapped to the data model. Now all queries will be mapped to objects in the data model, and the Queries will be regenerated based off of the data model upon opening of that PBIX.

This backend update has helped unlock future features improvements and will continue to do so in the future.

For example:

  1. With the addition of external tools in Power BI Desktop (which is currently in preview), tables added through these external tools will now appear as queries once you reopen your report.
  2. For those of you who have tried exporting a PBIT and unzipping the file, you’ll now see the model in JSON and will no longer get errors about corrupted files.


Keep in mind that if you have an older PBIX that cannot be automatically updated for reasons such as unapplied changes, you’ll need to successfully upgrade your model before you can make any additional modeling changes.

Performance improvements to aggregation expressions involving columns of currency data type

We have improved the performance of aggregations over expressions that reference columns of the “currency” data type over large imported tables, e.g. SUMX(Sales, [Sales Amount] * [Discount Rate]), by pushing more calculations to the Vertipaq Engine.

Data connectivity

The following new connectors are available:

CDS Connector (preview)

We are happy to announce a new connector for CDS in Power BI is going into public beta. With this new connector, Power BI users have more options when connecting to Common Data Services environments.

Note: Due to a deployment error, some Power BI August Desktop users may have seen this connector but been unable to use it.

This connector is using the Tabular Data Stream endpoint for the Common Data Service environment. This endpoint enables better relationship discovery in the Power BI dataset model. In addition, complex data types, such as lookups, optionsets, and currency are flattened for easy consumption in the model.

To find out more, check out the preview documentation: View entity data in Power BI

To make sure that you’re using the new connector, choose the Common Data Service (Beta) connector in ‘Get Data’ in Power BI Desktop, under the ‘Power Platform’ category.

Azure Databricks

Azure Databricks is an Apache Spark-based analytics platform optimized for the Microsoft Azure cloud services platform. Designed with the founders of Apache Spark, Databricks is integrated with Azure to provide one-click setup, streamlined workflows, and an interactive workspace that enables collaboration between data scientists, data engineers, and business analysts.

Azure Databricks is a fast, easy, and collaborative Apache Spark-based analytics service. For a big data pipeline, the data (raw or structured) is ingested into Azure through Azure Data Factory in batches, or streamed near real-time using Kafka, Event Hub, or IoT Hub. This data lands in a data lake for long term persisted storage, in Azure Blob Storage or Azure Data Lake Storage. As part of your analytics workflow, use Azure Databricks to read data from multiple data sources such as Azure Blob StorageAzure Data Lake StorageAzure Cosmos DB, or Azure SQL Data Warehouse and turn it into breakthrough insights using Spark.

Read more about Azure Databricks. This connector will be available in the Azure section of the ‘Get data’ dialog.


MariaDB Platform is a complete enterprise open source database solution. It has the versatility to support transactional, analytical and hybrid workloads as well as relational, JSON and hybrid data models. And it has the scalability to grow from standalone databases and data warehouses to fully distributed SQL for executing millions of transactions per second and performing interactive, ad hoc analytics on billions of rows. MariaDB can be deployed on prem on commodity hardware, is available on all major public clouds and through MariaDB SkySQL as a fully managed cloud database.

Read more about MariaDB. This connector will be available in the Database section of the ‘Get data’ dialog.

Hexagon PPM Smart API

Intergraph Smart® APIs are RESTful OData web APIs developed by Hexagon PPM. These APIs provide access to data associated with Intergraph Smart® 2D, 3D, Information Management, and Materials software applications. The Hexagon PPM Smart API Connector enables Microsoft’s powerful analytics and visualizations to be applied to real time and historical data associated with applications hosted in Intergraph Smart Cloud or on-premises.

Read more about Hexagon PPM. This connector will be available in the Other section of the ‘Get data’ dialog.

Other data connectivity updates

  • Dremio has added support for .PBIDS files, and to enable users to connect to Power BI from within Dremio.
  • Kongsberg Vessel Insights has added support for fleetbased queries or queries containing wildcards.
  • Azure Time Series Insights includes bug fixes for column types shown in the response.



Spanish language community forum is now available

This month, we’re proud to announce that we now have a Spanish speaking community forum!
The Power BI community is a great way to connect on all things Power BI, learn, find answers to questions, as well as contribute to help answer questions for others.
So if you haven’t connected with our Power BI community now’s your chance to do so!
A special thank you to Miguel Escobar for his help on the Spanish forum, and his unwavering support of the Spanish speaking community.

Data Stories Gallery theme for October

If you have not connected with our Power BI community yet, now is a great time to do so. The Power BI Community is a great way to connect, learn, find solutions and discuss Power BI with business intelligence experts and peers. And the Power BI community is a great place for you to showcase what you do, and see the amazing work community members have posted in the Data Stories Gallery each month. If you want to contribute to the Data Stories gallery, the theme for October is Power BI and Excel, better together! So go ahead, show us what you can do… who knows, you could win some cool Power BI swag!


Collage by CloudScope

Collage displays images in the style of popular social networks, using either a grid or detail display. Collage is a way to beautifully display images within your Power BI report.

You can display images in either a compact grid display or a larger detail view in a style similar to Instagram.

To display an image, you provide a URL. In addition to the image url, you can optionally display any of the following field types:

  • Caption
  • Media date
  • Media type
  • Video url
  • Comment count
  • Like count
  • Permalink
  • Author profile image
  • Author name
  • Caption sentiment

In addition, you can provide any generic data fields that you wish (number, true/false, date, string). These data elements will be automatically formatted in the familiar Instagram style for numbers and dates.

Some of the above fields are only shown in the detail view.

Collage can act as a filter to other visuals within your report. It also fully supports the Power BI bookmark feature.

Download this visual from AppSource.

Advanced Trellis / Small Multiples Chart by xViz

xViz has released a new version (1.1.4) of the xViz Advanced Trellis chart (aka small multiples) with several new chart types, features and improved UX. 10+ new chart options have been added with dedicated Styling and Data Label section to style each chart individually. Improved chart readability with additional layout option – Row scale and Top/Bottom ‘N’ ranking on chart level to focus on key drivers.

Business end users can now search and pin panels and visualize outliers quickly with additional conditional formatting options for chart background and titles. The Animated section has been updated with Animated title, Speed(delay) and new styling & formatting options.

More information in this video. Download this visual from AppSource.

Waterfall Chart by xViz

xViz has released a new PBI Certified version (1.1.5) of the Waterfall Chart, which now supports the commonly requested idea place request for Stacked Waterfall chart option and ‘Only values waterfall’ along with existing use cases of Variance & breakdown analysis.

There is also the new Ranking feature to help users focus on the most important categories and group the remaining items into ‘Others’, is now available as well. Improved deviation bar and sorting options along with data point annotations features has been added for enhanced storytelling and runtime capabilities.

More information in this video. Download this visual from AppSource.

The new Editor’s picks visuals of the month are:

Zebra BI Tables, Violin Plot,  Trading chart by MAQ software, Smart Filter Pro by OKVizImage by CloudScopeActerys Table Edit and ValQ

The Editor’s picks can be found in the in-product AppSource in Power BI Desktop and service under Editor’s picks category.

Template Apps

Multichannel Attribution Dashboard

We are very excited to announce the first performance marketing template app for Power BI. Multichannel Attribution Dashboard by helps performance marketers to visualize and connect all their performance marketing data across all media, analytics and CRM. It contains integrations to Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads and Bing Ads which automatically refresh data to ensure data freshness. The connected data is modelled using a data driven attribution model to provide insights on how to improve marketing performance.

This template app has a visually rich report page with filters for performance marketers to get a summary on how their marketing campaigns are contributing towards their marketing and business goals.

How to connect data  

The following steps requires a account. Connect your data on the onboarding page:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Ads (optional)
  • Bing/Microsoft Ads (optional)
  • Facebook Ads (optional)
  • LinkedIn Ads (optional)
  • Salesforce, Hubspot, Dynamics CRM (optional)

The dataset will start refreshing and schedule refresh is set automatically to keep your data up to date. It could take up to 10 min to populate large datasets.   Get Multichannel Attribution Dashboard from AppSource.

Workplace Analytics Dashboard

As employees move to remote work and collaboration becomes digital, it is important to support your employees do their best work. The Workplace Analytics Dashboard by Data Maru will help you answer the following questions:

  • Are collaboration hours changing significantly as collaboration becomes digital?
  • How are external network managed as employees move to remote work?
  • How do employees adopt Microsoft Teams?
  • Are employees collaborating in different ways?
  • Can Teams channels replace scheduled meetings?
  • Are employees working after-hours?

How to connect data

Before you can connect the Workplace Analytics dashboard, you must

  • Be assigned the role of Analyst in Workplace Analytics.
  • Run predefined queries in Workplace Analytics: Standard person query and Teams Insights.

Follow the steps below or check out the video.

  1. Log into and go to Apps and select Workplace Analytics Dashboard. If you haven’t installed it, search Workplace Analytics Dashboard from AppSource and install it first.
  2. Enter the URL of OData link you copied from the step 7 (Standard person query) and the step 13 (Teams Insights query).
  3. For the standard person query, sign in with an account logged into Workplace Analytics. Choose Microsoft account for Authentication method and Organizational for Privacy level setting.
  4. For the Teams Insights query, sign in with an account logged into Workplace Analytics. Choose Microsoft account for Authentication method and Organizational for Privacy level setting.

Get Workplace Analytics Dashboard from AppSource.




That is 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! We hope that you enjoy the update!
If you installed Power BI Desktop from the Microsoft Store, please leave us a review:

Download the Power BI Desktop file with the demos in this blog.

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