Our June release is full of new reporting features, new data connectors, accessibility features, and more. A few highlights of the June release are the addition of data bars to tables and matrices, markers for line charts, new map themes, and a horizontal image slicer. In addition, we are continuing to improve the “Add Column from Example” feature in the Query Editor.
Here’s the complete list of June updates:
- Data bars for new table & matrix (preview)
- Markers on line, area, & combo charts
- Accessible reports
- Visuals font family setting
- Horizontal Image Slicer
- Combo chart formatting updates
- Bing maps improvements
- High density line sampling
- Custom Data Connectors support
- Power BI service Live Connect to On Premises and Push streaming datasets
- Impala connector is now generally available
- Amazon Redshift connector is now generally available
- SAP BW connector – DirectQuery support (beta)
- IBM Netezza connector (beta)
For a summary of the major updates, you can watch the following video:
Data bars for new table & matrix (preview)
This month we are adding a new type of conditional formatting to the new table and matrix visuals: data bars. Data bars are a quick way to format your data to make it easier to compare ranges of values. They’re visually similar to turning a column of your table or matrix into a bar chart.
There are two ways to turn on data bars. The first is from the field well. From the right click menu, select Data bars on any numeric measure on your table or matrix.
This launches a dialog for customizing the data bars.
Once you confirm your settings, you’ll see the data bars applied to the visual.
You can also turn on color scales and data bars from the formatting pane by selecting Conditional formatting. Set Color scales or Data bars to On to apply the default settings or, to customize the settings, select Advanced controls.
Find more details about data bars in the following video:
Markers on line, area, & combo charts
For line charts, area charts, and the lines of combo charts, we are adding a new formatting option that allows you to show markers on each line. You can pick between a list of different marker shapes and control the size and color of the markers. By default, when you turn markers on, a circle will apply to each line, matching the color of the line. Using the Show option, you can also format each line separately, including stroke width and markers. With this feature on and off independently from each other, which is useful if you want to call out only one line with markers or a thicker stroke. The legend of your line chart will automatically update to show the corresponding marker in the legend.
This feature is not only great for adding some personalization to your charts, but is also very useful if you have any color-blind users. By adding markers to your lines, you are no longer relying solely on color to differentiate the lines from each other.
Find more details about markers in the following video:
Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. With over 1 billion people with disabilities in the world, we’re passionate about ensuring Power BI reports are designed for people of all abilities, so they are accessible to everyone within your organization. This month is the first of several updates with accessibility in mind. This first release allows users to consume Power BI reports using keyboard navigation and screen readers. We are also giving report authors new formatting options that help reports more accessible to everyone.
If you want to consume a Power BI report with a keyboard and/or screen reader, you’ll be able to work with a report as follows:
- Switch focus between the report page tabs and objects on a report page using Ctrl+F6
- When focus is on report page tabs, tabbing will move focus between each page. The title of the page and whether it is currently selected is read out by the screen reader.
- Load a page using Enter.
- When focus is on a loaded report page, tabbing will cycle focus between each object on the page, which includes all textboxes, images, shapes, and charts. The screen reader reads the type of object and a description provided by the author.
When building accessible reports there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- For line, area, and combo charts, make sure to use different markers for each line. This will make is easier for report consumers to differentiate lines from each other.
- Pick a theme that is high contrast and color blind friendly from our theme gallery and import it using our Theming preview feature.
- For every object on your report, make sure to fill in the Alt Text under the General card of the formatting pane. This will ensure that even if someone can’t see the chart, image, shape, or textbox, they will be able to know what you wanted to communicate.
- Consider embedding your reports in a SharePoint site or an app that is accessible to make it easier for viewers reach the reports. This will make consuming the reports much easier since currently, in the Power BI Desktop and service, only the reporting canvas is accessible. The rest of the experience and navigation are not guaranteed to be keyboard and screen reader navigable.
This is just our first release of accessibility features, so make sure to give us feedback on what else you’d like to see and be on the lookout for more features in future updates.
Find more details about report accessibility in the following video:
Visuals font family setting
As several of you have already noticed, we've added the same support for font family control in visuals as we already have in textboxes.
We currently support setting the font family in:
- Axis labels
- Axis title
- Legend values
- Data labels
- Every section of the new Table and Matrix visuals
- Slicer header and items
You’ll find the setting in the drop-down list in the appropriate cards in the formatting pane. There are only a few areas still missing this option, and you’ll see these last few show up in coming releases.
Find more details about fonts in the following video:
Horizontal Image Slicer
The image slicer now supports horizontal orientation. When you have a slicer containing image URLs, set the display to horizontal or vertical by expanding the General section in the formatting pane.
Find more details about the horizontal image slicer in the following video:
Combo chart formatting updates
We’ve made two formatting updates to combo charts this month.
Force zeros to align between the two axes
Depending on your data, the zeros of the two axes may not automatically align in your combo chart. If you want to force your zeros to align, you can now turn Align zeros on in the Y-Axis card of the formatting pane.
Shade area of the line
If stylistically you want an area instead of a line on your combo chart, you can now toggle on the shading in the formatting pane in the Shapes card with the other line style features.
Find more details about the combo chart updates in the following video:
Bing maps improvements
This month, we made some upgrades to our Bing maps control. We added map themes, so you can better style your maps to match the rest of your report. We also updated our geocoding experience to take advantage of hierarchies. This will make it easier to work with your map and make geocoding more accurate.
You can now pick different map themes to use in your maps. You can pick between road (our default) and aerial. You’ll find this option under the Map styles card in the formatting pane.
Near the end of June, Bing is upgrading the Bing Maps API we use for our maps to their V8 map control. For the most part, you shouldn’t notice any changes to your map, but you will be able to take advantage of two more themes. When this happens, in addition to the two themes we are releasing now, you’ll see grayscale and dark as options in the dropdown. This change will automatically take place without the need to update your Desktop version, so be on the lookout for this near the end of the month.
Improved geo hierarchy experience
With this new API also comes a new geocoding experience. Now when you define a hierarchy in the field well of your map and use the “Expand” or “Drill down” option, we will send all the hierarchy information to Bing to use in geocoding. This will greatly improve the accuracy of the geocoding we get back, making sure for example that Paris, Texas shows up in Texas instead of France.
You won’t need to wait until the end of June for this change; you can immediately take advantage of this improvement. When using this feature, make sure to set the Data Category in the Modeling tab to the appropriate tag to improve geocoding as well.
Find more details about the Bing map updates in the following video:
High density line sampling
Based on your feedback, we updated our sampling algorithm for line and area charts. This new algorithm will better preserve the shape of your data and while also surfacing outliers. This new algorithm behind the scenes creates bins along your axis and preserves the minimum and maximum data points for each line within that bin. With this change, you should see a noticeably improved experience with any line charts that exceed the data point limit. This sampling algorithm allows you to represent a large number of data points without sacrificing performance and load time. You can learn more about this algorithm in our documentation. If you would like to use the previous sampling algorithm, you can go back by turning off High Density Sampling in the General card of the formatting pane. We will continue to invest in this area and improve other visuals as well, so make sure to give us feedback on the new experience.
Find more details about high density line sampling in the following video:
Custom Data Connectors
A few weeks ago, we announced the Data Connectors SDK Developer Preview. This new SDK allows developers to create their own data connectors that can be easily plugged into Power BI.
With this month's update for Power BI Desktop, we're making it seamless for you to enable this capability and load custom connectors in Power BI Desktop.
You can enable this Preview feature from the Options dialog.
After the feature has been enabled, you can deploy custom data connectors to your Documents folder (under the "Documents\Microsoft Power BI Desktop\Custom Connectors\" folder). These connectors will appear in the Get Data dialog.
The Data Connectors SDK allows users to create new data sources, or customize and extend an existing source. Common use cases include:
- Creating a business analyst friendly view for a REST API
- Providing branding for a source supported by an existing connector (such as an OData service, or ODBC driver)
- Implementing an OAuth v2 authentication flow for a SaaS offering
- Exposing a limited/filtered view over your data source to improve usability
- Supporting different authentication modes when creating a Power BI Content Pack
- Enabling DirectQuery for a data source via an ODBC driver
Currently, Custom Data Connectors are only supported in Power BI Desktop. Support for them in the Power BI service and Gateway will come in a future update.
More improvements and updates are coming, and you can stay tuned to the Power BI blog for these updates. Please give the preview a try and share your feedback! You can provide feedback, report issues or add feature requests through the GitHub issues page of the Data Connectors repo.
Power BI service Live Connect to on-premises and push streaming datasets
We are updating the Power BI service connector with support for two new types of datasets: on-premises and push streaming datasets.
On premises datasets are created by publishing Desktop files connected live to SQL Service Analysis Services, Analysis Services Azure, or Common Data Service, or by connecting directly to an AS database configured to work with an on-premises gateway in the Power BI service. Push streaming datasets are created by enabling historic data analysis when creating the streaming dataset.
If you have one of these datasets in the service, you can connect live using our Power BI service option.
Impala connector is now generally available
With this month’s update, we’re enabling end-to-end support for the Impala connector in the Power BI service using the on-premises Data Gateway. In addition, we’re declaring the Impala connector generally available (GA).
The Impala connector can be found under the Database category within the Get Data dialog. It allows you to create reports based on Impala databases data, either by using Import or DirectQuery modes.
We wanted to thank all of you who tried out the Preview version of this connector and shared feedback with us. We will continue making improvements to this connector in the future, based on feedback, just like we do with other features in the product.
Amazon Redshift connector is now generally available
Another connector hitting general availability (GA) this month is the Amazon Redshift connector. We released this connector late last year as a Preview feature and recently added E2E support via the Power BI service. With this release, we’re making the Amazon Redshift Connector GA.
The Amazon Redshift connector, available under Database category in the Get Data dialog, enables you to easily create reports on top of your AWS Redshift data, by using Import or DirectQuery modes.
Thanks to everyone for your feedback while the connector was in Preview/Beta stages.
SAP BW connector – DirectQuery support (beta)
This month we’re adding DirectQuery support as an enhanced capability to the SAP BW connector. Note that this new DirectQuery mode is available as a Beta feature, with the main goal of gathering customer feedback about overall capabilities and performance. It’s not recommended for use in production scenarios( unlike Import, which is already generally available).
When using the SAP BW connector, you will now get an option to select Import or DirectQuery in the connector dialog.
After selecting DirectQuery, you will be able to browse the list of cubes and provide any required or optional parameters needed. Once you click Load, you will be taken into the main Power BI Desktop window where you can start creating report elements that are directly connected to the underlying SAP BW cube objects (dimensions, measures, hierarchies, etc.).
IBM Netezza Connector (beta)
We’ve released a new Beta connector this month for IBM Netezza. This connector allows you to easily create reports on top of IBM Netezza databases, either by using Import or DirectQuery modes.
The new IBM Netezza connector can be found under the Database category within the Get Data dialog.
Upon selecting this connector, you can specify a server and, optionally, a database. You can also select which connectivity mode to use.
Find a summary about all the data connector updates in the following video:
“Add Column from Examples” enhancements
We've made a couple of enhancements to the recently released “Add Column from Examples” feature:
- Suggestions: With this update, as you go into “Add Column from Examples” we will show suggestions for output values based on the contents of other columns and partial contents you typed. These suggestions also help differentiate between multiple transformations where the output value might be the same for a given row.
- Support for additional transformations: We have added support for additional transformations, including many Date/Time operations. For a full list of supported transformations, please check our documentation article.
Find more details about the "Add Column from Examples" enhancements in the following video:
That’s all for this month! We hope that you enjoy this new update and continue sending us valuable feedback about our product. Please don’t forget to vote for other features that you would like to see in the Power BI Desktop in the future.