Try what's coming next for Power BI!

Today we’re announcing a new update for the Power BI Designer Preview. This update is our biggest one to date, as it brings lots of new capabilities into the Designer; particularly, the ability to create measures using DAX, as well as several other new Modeling & Query features. If that wasn’t enough, there are also some performance and usability improvements waiting for you to try them out…

The following features are new or improved in this update:

Modeling Features

Get Data & Query

Performance Improvements

You can continue reading below for more details and videos about each feature.

Initial support for DAX Measures

In this update of the Power BI Designer you can now enrich your models by writing measures using DAX.

  • Formula bar: Using the new formula bar in the Report view you can create measures by writing formulas in the DAX language. The formula bar helps you write these formulas by differentiating functions, fields and measures using syntax coloring, it provides intelligent function and field suggestions and tells you if parts of your DAX expression are wrong using error 'squiggles'. It also allows you to use multiple lines (Alt + Enter) and indentation (Tab).

  • Comments: The formula bar also allows you to write comments as part of your measures, just type “//” and everything after these characters on the same line will be considered a comment.

 

You can also use /* to add your comment */ in the middle of a formula.

  • Saving incomplete measures: How often are you in the middle of writing a complex Measure and wanted to ask your colleague for help but do not have a way of saving this half-written measure? The Power BI Designer now allows you to save measures that are invalid so you can just save your file and take it to your colleague, or continue to work on it another day.

You can watch these features in action in the following video.

For more information on Measures, check out these links:

We’re just getting started with DAX authoring in the Power BI Designer… Over the next few months we plan to enhance the formula bar even further and will update the Designer to add calculated columns to the model. So stay tuned!

New DAX Functions

Besides enabling you to add measures in the Power BI Designer, we have also added several new DAX functions that will allow you to solve more complex business problems, here are some of the most exciting new functions:

Data Types & Formatting options in Report view

In this update we’re adding the ability to change Data Types and Format for Fields within the Report view. This will make it much easier for you to change column types, without having to go back into the Query view.

In addition to Data Types, we’re enabling Formatting options specific to each data type (i.e. Date, Number, etc.).

In order to access these options, select the field you’d like to change within the Fields pane and use the Data Tools – Modeling contextual ribbon tab.

 

This short video shows you the feature in action:

Learn more about Data Types in the Power BI Designer

Rename & Delete fields in Report view

Another new feature available within the Report view with this update is the ability to Rename and Delete fields within the Fields pane. This makes it much more convenient for you to customize fields, instead of having to go back to rename your columns in the Query view.

These two options can be accessed in the context menu when right-clicking on a specific field.

 

Watch the following short video to learn more about Rename & Delete fields in the Report view.

OData V4 support

We’re adding support for OData V4 feeds. You can just use the existing OData Feed connector, which will now also accept feeds built using the latest OData version.

Support for Custom ADFS Authentication Services

With this update, we’re adding support for using custom ADFS authentication endpoints through our Organizational Account credential type. This allows access to data sources that require ADFS authentication such as some on premise instances of Dynamics CRM. After Power BI is registered by your admin, you will be able to approve a custom endpoint when prompted for access. You can also manage the list of already-approved endpoints within the Options dialog, under “Global -> Security”.

Updated Facebook connector

As of April 30th 2015, Facebook will expire v1.0 of its Graph API. The Graph API is what Power BI uses behind the scenes for the Facebook connector, allowing you to connect to your data and analyze it. Unfortunately this expiration means some changes in the Facebook connector as it currently exists. The most important difference is the set of permissions we’re able to leverage and the data those permissions return. For example, Friends Lists and News Feeds are commonly used permissions that are now changed or inaccessible.

Queries that were built before April 30th may no longer work or return less data. After April 30th, Power BI will leverage v2.2 in all calls to the Facebook API. You’ll likely need to authenticate again, to approve the new set of permissions that we’ll ask for. More details on the change in the Facebook API are available here.

Option to disable Native Database query prompts

One interesting capability when connecting to databases is the ability to provide a custom SQL statement. This is useful for customers who already had complex SQL queries to pull data for their reports and wanted to get started with the Power BI Designer.

However, there is a potential risk for these queries to contain malicious SQL code that could delete or modify content in a database when executed. Because of this risk, we have an existing security prompt whenever users try to run a native database query outside of the data source dialogs. It turns out that lots of customers are using this capability within Custom Columns or similar scenarios, so that they can dynamically build and execute native database queries. The downside of this is that they would get prompted for approval of every distinct SQL statement, which would make the experience very inconvenient.

In order to enable these customers to achieve their scenarios, we’re introducing an option to disable Native Database Query security prompts. Please use this under your own responsibility and beware of the potential risks mentioned above… You can find this option within the Options dialog, under Global -> Security.

Learn more about Native Database Queries by watching the following video.

Unified Options dialog

We have unified the File Settings dialog and the Options dialog into a single one. This dialog is now organized by scope (current file vs. global) and categories for easier navigation.

 

See more details about the new unified Options dialog in the following video:

 

Support for “Fixed Decimal Number” type

We have added support for “Fixed Decimal Number” type. This new type can be found in the Data Type dropdown menu, in both the Query view and the Report view.

You can find more information about Fixed Decimal Number and other data types in the Power BI Designer in this page.

Alternate Windows Credentials

Added an option to use Alternate Windows Credentials (rather than current user) to the Windows credentials option in the Credentials dialog.

New Transformations

 

We continue making incremental improvements to the set of transformations supported in the Query view. This month, we’re adding support for the following new transformations:

  • Remove Blank Rows.

  • Median Operation available for “Group By” and “Aggregate Column”.

  • Convert DateTimeZone value to Local Time.

Want to see these transformations in action? Check out the following video.

Performance Improvements

 

In addition to all the functional improvements described above, we’re also making the Power BI Designer much faster this month, in a couple of different areas:

  • Faster load of medium & large datasets by about 20%.
  • Improved time to open an existing PBIX file by about 50%.

That’s all for this month. As mentioned previously, we’re making lots of incremental improvements to the Power BI Designer and we hope that you find it better with every new monthly update…

Please continue sending us feedback using our “Send a Smile/Frown” feature, or by voting for what you’d like to see next.

Here is also a full version of the video that combines all What's New videos from this announcement.

 

What can I do next?