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6 New Updates to the Power BI Designer Preview

Headshot of article author Miguel Llopis

Try what’s coming next for Power BI!

This week we are releasing a new version of the Power BI Designer Preview. This update is packed with lots of new things for you to try: from new connectors, transformations and Report view features to significant usability, quality and performance improvements.

You can download this update from the Power BI Designer download page.

What’s New in the Power BI Designer

The following features have been added or improved in this update:

  1. Performance improvements.
  2. Dynamics CRM Online connector.
  3. Navigator Dialog improvements:
    1. Better preview experience for multi-dimensional sources (Analysis Services and SAP BusinessObjects).
    2. Show Selected Items option.
    3. Improved Search capabilities in the Navigator tree.
  4. New Transformations:
    1. Age and Subtract operations for Date/Time columns.
    2. Aggregate Columns: Option to disable new columns’ prefix.
  5. Field List improvements:
    1. Expand/Collapse tables.
    2. Hide/Unhide fields.
    3. Optimized layout (spacing, margins, and fonts).
  6. Report Pages Navigation – Keyboarding support
  7. Lots of other bug fixes.

You can watch the following video or read below for more details about each feature.

Performance Improvements

We’ve made significant Performance improvements to the Power BI Designer in a couple of areas:

–  Query Load: Performance of loading queries has improved by about 2x-3x in this release, according to our benchmarks. That is, queries that used to take ~10 minutes before this update, take now just 3-4 minutes. We encourage you to try your own scenarios and let us know if you’re still hitting performance issues.

–  Excel Workbook Import: We’ve improved latency when connecting to Excel Workbooks from the Power BI Designer. You should see lower times to load previews, which will translate to a more responsive experience in the Query view.

We continue working on performance improvements in various areas of the Power BI Designer. Expect to see more improvements coming in the next few months!

Dynamics CRM Online Connector

In this update, we are introducing a new connector for Dynamics CRM Online. Until now you were able to connect to Dynamics CRM Online using the OData feed connector, however, this was not very discoverable for the majority of our users.

With the new Dynamics CRM Online connector, users are given guidance on what the URL of their Dynamics CRM Online feed looks like. User input is also validated and users won’t be able to connect until the URL they provide is correct.

Navigator Dialog improvements

We’ve made a few improvements to the Navigator dialog layout:

–  Improved output preview for multi-dimensional sources (such as Analysis Services and SAP BusinessObjects): Output preview for these sources is now always visible as users select items from the tree. This makes it easier for them to preview the data that they will get when clicking Load/Edit Query.

–  “Show All” vs. “Show Selected”: No more “Select multiple items” option. Instead, the default mode in the Navigator is to select multiple items. This makes it easier for users to select multiple tables. The “Selected Items” area at the bottom-left of the dialog is replaced with “Show All” & “Show Selected” options above the tree. This optimizes the space in the default view to display a larger number of items in the tree.

–  Improved Search capabilities in the navigator tree: Search experience within the navigator tree has been improved. It’s now much easier to search for an item and click on it in the list or remove the search term. The position in the tree is kept so users do not lose the context for their selection.

New Transformations

A few improvements have been made in the Query view to make some transformations easier. These transformations were already possible via custom formulas, but now have been made much more usable:

– Age and Subtract operations for Date/Time columns: When working with Date/Time columns, it’s often useful to calculate the difference between two Date/Time columns (for example, Order Date & Ship Date), or to calculate the Age or Date/Time difference between a given date and “now”. These options are now available in the Date menu under Transform and Add Column ribbon tabs.

– Aggregate Columns – Option to disable column name prefix: An option to disable column name prefix has been added to the Aggregate Columns menu. This option was added a few months ago to Expand Columns but it was missing for Aggregate. With this option, users can decide upfront whether to include a name prefix based on the original column name to the Aggregate Columns output.

Field List Improvements

This month we’ve made improvements to the Field List based on your feedback:

– Expand/Collapse Tables: We’re adding the ability to expand or collapse tables in the Field List. This improves navigation and usability when dealing with multiple tables in this pane.

– Hide/Unhide/View Hidden Fields: Now you can also hide specific fields in the Field List to simplify this view. You can also look at hidden fields or unhide them (one by one or all at once).

Improved Layout: We’ve made some adjustments to the spacing, margins and fonts in the Field List to make it easier for you to work on it and handle more items.

Report Pages Navigation – Keyboarding Support

You can add multiple pages to your reports and navigate those pages using the left pane in the Report view. In this update, we’re adding keyboard support so it is much easier for you to move between pages:

–  Up/Down Arrow keys: Use these two keys to move up and down in the list, one page at a time.

–  Page Up/Down keys: Similarly to the previous item, move to the previous or next page in your report.

–  Home/End keys: Move to the first or last page in your report with a single gesture.

Bug Fixes and Quality Improvements

Finally, we’ve also fixed lots of bugs and issues reported by many of you via “Send a Frown”. We encourage you to continue sending us feedback about the product and reporting any issues that you may find while working with the Power BI Designer.

We hope that you enjoy this update. Stay tuned for more updates coming soon…