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Power BI October 2021 Feature Summary

Headshot of article author Jeroen ter Heerdt

Welcome to the October 2021 update. Leaves fall, Power BI calls; and we are excited to release additional functionality and performance improvements for DirectQuery, optimization for the SWITCH function,  new Bitwise DAX functions, and general availability of the Premium Gen2 platform for premium capacities. There is more to explore, please continue to read on.

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Reporting

Modeling

Data connectivity and preparation

Service

Embedded Analytics

Developers

Visualizations

Other

Check out the video below for this month’s summary:

 

Reporting

 

Heat map layer – Azure Maps Visual

We are excited to introduce the Heat map layer to the Azure Maps Visual in this release.

Heat map displays color patterns on the map to represent the density of data points, using a range of colors and show the data “hot spots” on a map. Heat map is a great way to visualize datasets with a large number of points.

Azure Maps is in Preview, so to switch it on go to File > Options and settings > Options > Preview features and then toggle the Azure Maps Visual to On.

The format pane for Heat map lets users customize and design the heat map visualizations. Format pane options allow you to:

  • Configure the radius of each data point using pixels or meters as units.
  • Customize the opacity and intensity of the heat map layer.
  • Specify whether the value in the size field should be used as the weight of each data point.
  • Select different colors from color pickers drop-down.
  • Set minimum and maximum zoom levels for the Heat map layer to be displayed.
  • Decide the heat map layer position among different layers, for example, 3D bar chart layer and bubble layer.

A heat map is useful when users want to visualize vast comparative data:

  • Comparing customer satisfaction rates or shop performance among regions or countries.
  • Measuring the frequency which customers visit shopping malls in different locations.
  • Visualizing vast statistical and geographical data sets.

Learn more information about Azure Maps heatmap in Microsoft Power BI. 

DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services

Our on-going preview for DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services is getting a couple of updates this month.

More flexibility when selecting tables

Previously, when you made a DirectQuery connection to a dataset or Azure Analysis Services model, your model contained all tables. With this release, we’re giving you more control!

First off, you can remove a table from your model using the field list. This way you can keep your model nice and clean even if there are more tables in the dataset or model you are connected to. Note that if you connect to a perspective the ability to remove tables from your model is not available to you.

Secondly, when connecting to a dataset or model you can now specify exactly which tables to load in the first place. No need to load everything if you are only looking for a specific subset of tables.

Note that you can also choose to automatically add any table that might get added to the dataset or model after you make the connection to your model. Please be aware that when you connect to a perspective, your model will contain all tables in the dataset or model and any table not included in the perspective will be hidden. Moreover, any tables that might get added to the perspective will be added automatically.

This dialog will only show if you add a DirectQuery connection to a Power BI dataset or Azure Analysis Services model to an existing model. You can also open this dialog by changing the DirectQuery connection to the Power BI dataset or Azure Analysis Services model in the Data source settings after you created it.

Performance improvements

Parallel execution of model queries and smart caching improves performance across the board.

Read more: Read more about this feature in the documentation.

Tenant-level feature switch for Bing Maps

Later this month, we’ll be introducing a tenant-level feature switch to enable or disable the Bing Maps visual. You can find this new option in the Admin Portal. Moving forward, Bing Maps will require explicit opt-in for new tenants, meaning it will be disabled by default. Existing tenants should not be affected but note that the option will now exist to disable the visual. Loading Bing Maps visuals in a context where they have been disabled will result in an error only affecting that visual, which notifies the user to contact their admin to opt in. We’re expecting this change to roll out in Power BI Service later this month, and in Desktop in the next release.

Modeling

 

SWITCH performance optimization

We have optimized the performance of the SWITCH function in DAX. You should see the improved performance if the SWITCH function has a large number of values (hundreds or more) or if the value expressions contain measure references.

Bitwise functions in DAX

We have added new bitwise functions to DAX! Now you can perform common bitwise operations, such as shifting in DAX. We’ve added the following functions:

  • BITLSHIFT and BITRSHIFT which allow you to shift a number left or right by a specified number of bits respectively.
  • BITAND, BITOR and BITXOR return a bitwise AND, OR or XOR of two numbers respectively.

 

Data connectivity and preparation

The release of the features in this section may be delayed in some regions. We are working hard to ensure they are available in all public regions as soon as possible.

Amazon Redshift (Connector Update)

We are excited to announce support for native database queries for the Amazon Redshift connector.

Similar to SQL and Snowflake connectors, this will allow you to input an Amazon Redshift native query and build reports on top of it.

Dataverse (Connector Update)

We updated the Dataverse connector to support environment discovery. Users will be able to view a list of environments that they have access to, instead of being required to specify an environment URL.

Google Analytics (Connector Update)

The Google Analytics Connector has been updated to use V4 APIs. Additional features in this update include better API reliability and exposure of additional dimensions and measures not available in V3.

Azure Cosmos DB V2 (New Connector)

We are excited to announce the release of the Azure Cosmos DB V2 connector in the upcoming November 2021 update!

To query data stored in the transactional store of Azure Cosmos DB containers, we had previously released a native Power BI connector (henceforth referred to as Azure Cosmos DB V1 connector) that is generally available and supports only Import mode. We are now releasing a new native Power BI connector (henceforth referred to as Azure Cosmos DB V2 connector) that will support querying the transactional store in both DirectQuery and Import modes. In addition to supporting DirectQuery mode, the V2 connector includes performance optimizations related to query pushdown and data serialization.

Azure Databricks (Connector Update)

The Azure Databricks connector has been updated. Here are the notes from the Databricks team.

  • Added support for navigation through catalog hierarchy in workspaces with Unity Catalog support
  • Enabled ‘Fast Evaluation’ by default, providing faster processing of large imports, and enabling direct SQL passthrough, to provide lower latency for Databricks SQL and Databricks Runtime 8.3 and later.

 

Amazon Athena

This connector is now generally available.

SIS-CC-SDMX (New Connector)

We are excited to announce the release of the new SIS-CC SDMX connector. Below is a description from the SIS-CC-SDMX team.

SIS-CC SDMX connector allows to easily query any public SDMX REST web service endpoint that supports the SDMX-CSV output format to analyse, visualise and share data from Power BI.  Statistical Data and Metadata eXchange (SDMX) is an ISO international open standard adopted and used by statistical organisations (national, sub-national, regional, and international) for the production and dissemination of official statistics.

The SIS-CC SDMX connector is an open-source project provided by the Statistical Information System Collaboration Community (SIS-CC).

Visit the SDMX Connector documentation page for more information and how to get started, and the SDMX official website for more information on the SDMX standard.

SumTotal (Connector Update)

The SumTotal connector has been updated and is now generally available. Here are the updates from the SumTotal team.

  • Removed hardcoded list of OData entities; now pulls all OData APIs dynamically
  • Added logic to allow bypassing of SSO login via query string parameter

 

Usercube (New Connector)

We are excited to release the new Usercube connector. Here are notes from the Usercube team:

Usercube is the first no-code full-featured solution for Identity Governance and Administration (IGA), configurable for your unique organization, process, and policies.

Identity life cycle management becomes seamless: all users, including the internal workforce, partners, RPA bots and IoT devices, automatically receive the necessary access permissions – nothing more, nothing less – enforcing your security policies and the segregation of duties (SoD) based on your unique role model.

With Usercube’s Power BI integration, business reports benefit from data such as users’ identities, entitlement details (accounts and fined-grained permissions) and approval workflow tracing (WHO did WHAT and WHEN).

These reports are easy to create and to share. They integrate data from multiple applications, and they provide clarity to the whole company:

-Entitlement management and security performance are closely monitored and analyzed.

– Business teams benefit from easy and best-in-class reports for data-driven decisions.

Feel free to contact Usercube for a demo.

Service

 

Admin & governance

Premium Gen2

New 2nd generation platform for Premium Capacities (known as Premium Gen2) is now Generally Available.

The new platform provides improved resiliency and performance stability, greater scale of usage with fewer restrictions on memory utilization and concurrent refreshes, modernized monitoring of capacity metrics and optional sizing flexibility with Autoscale capacity sizing. It can increase your capacity size automatically to address unplanned spikes in demand for capacity processing power.

All new premium capacities will be created as Gen2 capacities, and all existing capacities are encouraged be switch to Gen2. In several weeks we will automatically port legacy 1st generation capacities to Gen2 (announcement and communications to capacity admins will be made separately).

Read more about the Power BI Premium Gen2 platform, and if you haven’t already, switch your existing capacities to the new platform today!

New API for determining who has access to what Power BI assets

Last month we released to Preview a set of APIs to retrieve user permissions (see this blog post for details). This month, another API is available to help you better manage your Power BI asset inventory. The GetUserArtifactAccessAsAdmin API takes the graph ID of a user and returns lists of assets that the user has access to. The results are paginated by a continuationToken, with each page of results containing one type of asset. How can this API be useful for you as the Power BI service administrator? Consider the scenario when an employee leaves the company. Often, there’s a need to transfer the ownership of that employee’s assets. The API can assist in determining which assets the employee had, so that ownership is transferred smoothly.

Find out more about the Users GetUserArtifactAccessAsAdmin API.

Deployment pipeline APIs

A few months back, we announced the public preview release of the deployment pipeline APIs. The deployment APIs enable pro BI developers to manage Power BI releases as part of their DevOps tool of choice.

Today we are announcing the general availability of all deployment pipeline APIs. As part of the announcement, we are also releasing a new set of APIs to create and manage pipelines from start to finish so it’s faster and easier than ever to migrate and scale with Power BI deployment pipelines.

With the new set of APIs, pro BI developers will be able to:

  • Automatically add new workspaces to work with pipelines- set an automated process where new production workspaces are assigned to a pipeline and all relevant team members get the appropriate permissions.
  • Standardize release processes in the organization- migrate content at scale to work with pipelines, so that your release process is up to the highest standards.
  • Central management of Power BI content in your DevOps tool of choice, without opening Power BI- from pipeline creation to deploying to production, all operations can be done via automation.

You can use the PowerShell samples to get started easily.

What will the new APIs contain:

  • Create/ update/ delete a deployment pipeline.
  • Assign/ un-assign a workspace to a deployment pipeline.
  • Add / remove user from a deployment pipeline.

Read more about the deployment pipelines automation.

Upcoming automatic installation of the Power BI app for Microsoft Teams

Many organizations use modern collaboration in Microsoft Teams to enable faster decision making and action. Now, Power BI is making it easier for organizations to roll-out Power BI experience in Teams, so users get can discover and use data where they work. This helps people get notified faster, get richer link sharing experiences, and access all their data without leaving Microsoft Teams.

To enable organizations to more easily roll-out of Power BI in Teams, we’re making a few improvements:

  • Power BI will begin automatically installing the Power BI app for Teams for users when they visit the Power BI service.
  • Power BI admins can choose not to auto-install through a new Power BI tenant setting.
  • The tenant setting has started to roll-out now, giving admins time to opt-out if desired.
  • The automatic installation will start to take effect in November 2021, for organizations with the setting enabled.

The Install Power BI app for Microsoft Teams automatically tenant setting is added to the Power BI admin portal. Power BI admins can control the auto-install behavior. By default, the auto-install is enabled.

Power BI tenant setting that controls automatically installation of the Power BI app for Microsoft Teams for a user.

The automatic installation happens for a user under the following conditions:

  • The Power BI app for Microsoft Teams is set to allowed in the Microsoft Teams admin portal.
  • The Power BI tenant setting Install Power BI app for Microsoft Teams automatically is enabled.
  • The user has a Microsoft Teams license.
  • The user opens the Power BI service (e.g. app.powerbi.com) in a web browser.

Initially, auto-install applies to new users the first time they visit the Power BI service in a web browser. In the future, auto-install will occur for all active users of the Power BI service who meet the criteria.

When auto-install occurs, the following notification is shown in the Power BI service notification pane.

Learn more about the Automatic Installation of the Power BI app for Microsoft Teams.

Embedded Analytics

 

Export Power BI report to file API – Preview Update

Export Power BI report to file API (preview) allows you to export Power BI reports to the following file formats: PDF, PPTX (PowerPoint) and PNG, by using a REST call. Since this API was launched, we had to impose a few limitations which we are removing now for Premium/Embedded Gen2 capacities. The following modifications apply:

  • The number of Power BI exports per hour is not limited to 50 per hour per capacity, but only to 50 report pages per minute per capacity.
  • There is no maximum concurrent report pages limitation.
  • An export API operation load is evaluated as a slow-running/background operation as described in Premium Gen2 capacity load evaluation. The workload under which export API operations appears is called ‘InteractiveReportExports’.

We expect this Export Power BI report to file API to become GA by the end of November 2021.

Object-Level Security (OLS) is now generally available in Power BI Embedded

Aligning with Power BI Premium and Pro, we are moving the object-level security feature from public preview to general availability in Power BI Embedded as well. Object-level security (OLS) enables model authors to hide sensitive tables or columns from report viewers. From the standpoint of the user without proper access, the secured table or column does not exist. In addition, object names and metadata are also secured to prevent a malicious user from discovering that such an object exists. This added layer of security prevents users without the appropriate access levels from discovering business critical or sensitive personal information. Authoring OLS rules in the Power BI dataset can be performed with tools that utilize the XMLA endpoint. Be sure to check out the public preview object level security announcement for more details and how to enable this feature.

Adjust zoom level for embedded Power BI reports

You can now set the zoom level of your embedded report programmatically by either adding a single parameter to the embed settings, or by using the setZoom API to adjust the zoom level after your report has loaded. This lets you adjust your report’s zoom level to be different than the default zoom level and to ensure that your report can be fully seen and utilized by all users, regardless of any visual or physical impairments.

To adjust the zoom level from the embed settings, see the following example:

let embedConfig = {

…

settings: {

zoomLevel: 2 // 200% zoom

}

};

To get the current zoom level or update it after the report has loaded, use the getZoom and setZoom APIs, as exemplified below:

let currentZoom = await report.getZoom();

await report.setZoom(0.5); // 50% zoom

 

Updated Multi-Geo support for Power BI Embedded

Multi-Geo support for Power BI Embedded means that ISVs and organizations that build applications using Power BI Embedded to embed analytics into their apps, can deploy their data in different regions around the world. Until now, Multi-Geo did not result in better performance for Power BI Embedded deployments, as loading reports and dashboards still involved requests to the home region for metadata. Now we have managed to overcome this limitation, resulting in a much better performance!

Power BI Embedded Playground update – Use your own embed token

You can now embed a report in the playground developer sandbox by using your own embed token. This is in addition to the existing options of embedding a sample report or selecting one of your available Power BI reports.

If you’re using the ‘embed for your customers’ solution, you’ll be generating embed tokens using REST APIs to let your app know which Power BI content can be accessed by its users and what their access level is.

Once you’ve generated an embed token, you can enter it in the playground to test the report and ensure that the correct content and access levels have been set. You can then continue to explore our APIs and test them out on your report.

If you’re using row-level security (RLS) to restrict user access to data, you can test it in the developer sandbox by inserting an embed token generated for the relevant identity you would like to test. Please learn more about the Row-level security with Power BI Embedded.

To learn more about Power BI embedded, head over to our embedded analytics playground.

Power BI Angular component

The Power BI component for Angular was recently released. This component lets you easily embed your Power BI reports, dashboards and more into your Angular web application.

Over the past few years, the popularity of Angular has greatly increased, and it is currently one of the most-used web frameworks by professional developers. The new Power BI component for Angular gets you from insights to actions quickly and easily, by providing the needed framework for integrating Power BI analytics in your Angular app.

Using this library, you can embed Power BI reports, dashboards, tiles, visuals, Q&A and paginated reports. You can also optimize your report’s performance using the available bootstrap integration or phased embedding, set and edit event handlers, and take advantage of the available client-side APIs.

The Angular component is available on npm and GitHub.

Developers

 

Add modern tooltip to your custom visual

Now you can add modern tooltip to your custom visuals with API V3.8.3 release or higher, by adding the supportEnhancedTooltips property to the tooltips object in the capabilities.json file.

Find more about how to add modern tooltips support to the report page.

Modal Dialog API update

The new model dialog API gives developers the ability to determine the size and the position of the dialog relative to the originating visual. This is available with API 4.0 release.

Find more about how to create a dialog box for your Power BI visual.

Visualizations

 

Lollipop Bar Chart by Nova Silva

Standard bar charts are ideal for showing a single measure per category. You can easily compare each of the categories with the rest. However, if you have a larger number of categories (>10) in a bar chart, it’s possible the chart itself becomes “heavy”. The colored bars will fill a large part of the chart surface. To avoid this clutter, one can use the Lollipop Bar Chart for Power BI as an alternative.

The Lollipop Bar Chart shows a marker (mostly a dot) per category. A subtle line connects the marker to the measure-axis origin. The marker combined with the line make it a Lollipop Bar Chart.

The Lollipop Bar Chart also contains an additional chart: the dot plot. Just hide the line connecting the marker to the axis.

The latest version of this chart contains several exciting enhancements:

  • Conditional formatting (both the marker and the line)
  • Partial highlighting
  • Data labels
  • Marker shapes

Don’t hesitate and try the Lollipop Bar Chart now by downloading it from the AppSource. All features are available for free to evaluate this visual within Power BI Desktop.

Questions or remarks? Visit us at: https://visuals.novasilva.com.

Drill Down TimeSeries PRO visual by ZoomCharts

Visualizing a Power BI timeline is now easier than ever. Drill Down TimeSeries PRO by ZoomCharts lets you explore time-based data right down to the millisecond. Featuring vast interaction options and smooth animations, combine multiple chart types for the ultimate Power BI timeline experience. Switch from months to weeks, to days effortlessly to drill down into the data, and choose between panning and selecting as your filtering method.

Among the main features of Drill Down TimeSeries PRO you will find:

  • Multi-touch device friendly – get the same experience on any device.
  • Multiple chart types and combinations – column, area, and line charts. Includes stacking and clustering for all chart types.
  • Cross-chart filtering – instead of using slicers, select data points on multiple charts.
  • Static and dynamic thresholds – set up multiple thresholds to demonstrate targets or benchmarks.
  • Full customization – use rich customization options to combine multiple chart types, set thresholds, and convert GMT data to local time.

To evaluate the Power BI timeline capabilities of Drill Down TimeSeries PRO for free, start your 30-day trial period now. Download Drill Down TimeSeries PRO from the AppSource.

Learn more about Drill Down TimeSeries PRO.

Inforiver by Lumel

Inforiver is an innovative Low code / No code reporting and analytics solution for Microsoft Power BI. End-users can use Inforiver to rapidly build complex financial statements, P&L reports, management, and variance reports with the help of our built-in visual formula engine with no IT or DAX knowledge.

Inforiver professional edition also enables pivot table type analysis, nested filtering, and Top N ranking capabilities. The built-in toolbar provides single-click styling, alignment, and several formatting options, and delivers unparalleled end-user self-service, interactivity, and collaboration experiences.

Inforiver professional edition feature highlights:

Financial & management reporting:

  • Excel-like quick formatting (cell, rows, and columns)
  • Pagination
  • Row/column reordering and grouping on the fly
  • Automatic number formatting
  • Grand & subtotal positioning (top or bottom) as well as split totals
  • Insert visual formula row/formulas as well as static manual input rows
  • Ragged hierarchy handling

Collaboration:

  • Cell-level notes & annotations
  • Audit – capture visual level changes for changelog
  • Cell edits and cell level formulas

Analysis use cases:

  • Expand/collapse individual columns for pivot analysis
  • Able to hide /show using manage columns (asymmetric tables)
  • Advanced conditional formatting (totals, values)
  • Freeze and pin – multiple rows at the same time and across pages

Download this visual from AppSource .

Learn more by watching the demo video below.

 

Hierarchical bar chart by Excelnaccess.com

Hierarchical bar chart displays hierarchical data (different fields having parent/child relationship) in the form a bar/column chart with +/- signs to view/hide details or child elements.

This visual has the following key features.

  • Expand/ Collapse bars using (+/-) buttons
  • Show variance between bars
  • Drag the bars for custom sorting
  • Click on legends to drill down/up to any level
  • Show targets

Watch a demo of these features in the video.

Download this visual from APPSOURCE.

For more information, please visit https://www.excelnaccess.com/hierarchical-barchart/

New visuals in AppSource

 

Editor’s pick of the month

 

Other

 

ODBC support for paginated reports

We’re excited to announce the general availability of ODBC support for Power BI paginated reports! You can now connect to any data source with an ODBC option when creating a paginated report in Power BI Report Builder. Paginated reports can now connect to ODBC drivers such as SAP Hana, Redshift, Snowflake, Oracle, DB2, Vertica etc. To learn more, check out the documentation on Power BI gateway and Report Builder support for ODBC data sources.

Download Power BI Report Builder.

New instructor led training, BETA version is available for – DAX in a day

Experienced Power BI partners and instructors are welcome to download the content and present the session. Please provide us with feedback as this is a BETA version, using the questionnaire in the training and: ppiltq@microsoft.com

Prerequisites—DIAD training & Advanced Modeling and Shaping training or equivalent working experience.

This course has been designed specifically for experienced model developers; it is recommended that attendees experience work with Power BI Desktop to create data models.

During this course you will review:

    • Writing DAX formulas
    • Define Calculated Tables and Columns
    • Define Measures
    • Use DAX Iterator Functions
    • Modify Filter context
    • Use DAX Time Intelligence Functions

After completing this training, the attendees should be able to work with Data Analysis Expressions (DAX), perform calculations and define common business calculations to be used in their reports considering performance and functionality concerns.

Content is offered in English.

Please find all our instructor led training for Power BI at: https://aka.ms/pbitraining

 

That is all for this month! Please continue sending us your feedback and do not forget to vote for other features that you would 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.

Also, don’t forget to vote on your favorite feature this month over on our community website. 

As always, keep voting on Ideas to help us determine what to build next.

We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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