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Power BI Desktop July 2020 Feature Summary

Headshot of article author Sujata Narayana

We have great updates this month! These updates include several enhancements to Q&A, gradient legend support, ability to further customize slicer header text, the general availability release for both relative time filter and model view enabled for live connect, the ability to launch external tools from Power BI Desktop, and more!

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Check out the full blog to learn more about all the updates and enhancements.

Here’s the complete list of July updates:





Data Preparation

Template Apps


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


Gradient legend

You can now include a legend for data colors that have been conditionally formatted by color scale. This legend can help clarify the meaning of the colors in a visual to report viewers.

You can find the conditional formatting dialog in the Data colors card of the formatting pane.

Use this dialog to set a new rule to format your data along a color scale:

This will enable the Legend card in the formatting pane. You can enable the gradient legend by toggling it on, then format the legend as desired.

Keep in mind that you cannot both conditionally format your data colors and split your data using the Legend field well. This is because the Legend field well already colors your data by category.

The gradient legend feature is enabled for bar, column, and scatter charts:

  • Stacked bar chart
  • Stacked column chart
  • Clustered bar chart
  • Clustered column chart
  • 100% stacked bar chart
  • 100% stacked column chart
  • Scatter chart

Ability to further customize slicer header text

Last month, we released the general availability of hierarchical slicer, which included enhancements not just for hierarchy scenarios but general use cases for slicers itself. Now this month, based on your feedback, we’ve added the ability to further customize the slicer header text.

While this improvement can still be used for general slicer use cases, this capability will be mainly beneficial to hierarchical slicer scenarios. Let’s take a look at an example.

Here I have a hierarchical slicer, and you will notice that by default we make the title based on the field inputs:

Now, when you navigate to the format pane > Slicer header, you will see that the Title text of the header can be customized:

This can be especially helpful when you have several fields in your slicer, and you want to provide a shorter, custom header text (without turning off the slicer header and using visual title setting instead).

Relative time filter is now generally available

Back in April we released a public preview of the relative time filter, which allowed you to filter to a smaller window of time, such as last 1 hour or last 1 minute.

We are happy to announce this month that the feature is now generally available. We want to thank you all for giving us feedback throughout the preview phase of the feature.

Keep providing us feedback as we continue to release updates to enrich your reporting.

To learn more about this feature, check out our documentation.


Enhancements to Q&A

We’re excited to announce several enhancements to Q&A including:

  • New field synonyms
  • Visual renames as suggested synonyms
  • Orange underlines for ambiguous terms
  • Updates to Q&A pop-out

Field synonyms

Field synonyms is the newest addition to Q&A setup where you can manage the synonyms for tables and fields, and include or exclude specific tables and fields from Q&A. The field synonyms section shows a list of all tables in your data model. Turning off ‘Include in Q&A’ for a table will hide everything in that table from Q&A. When you expand a table, you’ll see the table name and all the fields with their terms and suggested terms. Q&A prioritizes terms over suggested terms, so if you want to keep one of the suggested terms, you can use the plus sign to add it to the list of terms. Next to promoting suggested terms, you can also add new terms, delete, or reorder them.

Visual renames as suggested synonyms

Next to adding common synonyms for field names in the suggested terms, we are now also adding field renames from visuals in the report to the list of suggested terms. This means that when you change a field name on the axis of a line chart, this will be added as an alternative to the initial field name. For example, changing the field name ‘Prod_cat_L2’ to ‘product category level 2’ on a chart, will add the latter as a suggested synonym.

Orange underlines for ambiguous terms

This month, we’re introducing a few improvements to Q&A. First, we are introducing a third type of underline to the Q&A question box. In addition to red double underlines for terms that Q&A doesn’t understand and blue underlines for terms that Q&A does understand, you will see orange dotted underlines for ambiguous terms. An example of an ambiguous term can be when there are two dates in a table: ‘purchasing date’ and ‘delivery date’. When asking Q&A a question related to the last year, it might not be clear whether you mean the last year for purchasing or delivery date. The new underline helps distinguish this ambiguity so you can adjust your question if needed.

Updates to Q&A pop-out

Additionally, we have updated the Q&A pop-out. When adding a Q&A button to a report, you will now see the pop-out aligns with the Q&A visual experience. It also contains any suggested questions you have defined in Q&A setup. Questions that have been saved to existing Q&A buttons will be consolidated under the suggested questions section in Q&A setup.


Azure Maps visual (preview)

The Azure Maps visual for Power BI is now available for Public preview and includes the following visualization layers:

  • Bubble layer
  • 3D bar chart layer
  • Reference layer
  • Custom tile layer
  • Real-time traffic overlay

In addition to these visualization layers, this visual also leverages built-in Power BI features such as tooltips, color themes, as wells as filter and slicer support.

Bubble layer

Bubble layers are a great way to represent location data as scaled circles on the map. Customers can use a linear scaling method or customize the scaling logic using a logarithmic or Cubic-Bezier curve. Additionally, users can pass a value into the legend field and have the fill color of the circles dynamically set; and, outline the circles with a single color or enable the high contrast outline option to have a high contrast variant of the fill color assigned to the circle to help ensure the circles are clearly visible regardless of which style the map is set to. Allowing the user to easily visualize two metrics for each location on the map, scale and category.

For example, the following image shows bicycle accident locations in North Carolina. The color indicates the speed limit of the road the accident occurred on and the size is based on the number of individuals involved in the accident.

3D bar chart layer

3D bar charts are useful for taking data to the next dimension by allowing visualization of location data as 3D bars or cylinders on the map. Users can tilt and rotate the map by holding down the right mouse button and dragging or use one of the navigation controls to view your data from different perspectives.

Like the bubble layer, the bar chart layer can easily visualize two metrics at the same time using color and relative height. The following map displays store locations with bar heights representing the revenue generated from each location, colored by sales region.

Reference layer

Power BI currently allows a single data set to be connected to a visual. However, when working with maps, it’s often desirable to be able to overlay additional data layers to add more context to a report. With this feature a GeoJSON file containing custom location data can be uploaded and overlaid on the map. Properties in the GeoJSON file can be used to customize the style of the shapes.

For example, the following map image adds a GeoJSON file of census tract boundaries colored by population below a layer of addresses colored by real estate value. Thus, providing insights on how population density is related to property values.

Custom tile layer

Overlay a custom tile layer on the map to add an additional layer of context. Tile layers allow you to superimpose images on top of Azure Maps base map tiles. Overlay weather data from the Azure Maps weather services or bring your own tile service.

The following map displays a bubble layer of sales data of store selling sunglasses above a tile layer showing current weather radar from Azure Maps. In this case, we can easily see that fewer sales of sunglasses are occurring where it is rain.

Real-time traffic overlay

Overlay real-time traffic flow data to see how traffic congestion relates to your data.
For example, the following map is showing the position of field technicians rendered as a bubble layer on the map colored by their experience level, and scaled by the amount of remaining time on their current job. Real time traffic is overlaid on the map and provides a quick visual reference of which technicians are most likely to be delayed getting to their next job due to traffic congestion.

Updates to Multi-Axis Chart by xViz

xViz has released a new version (1.1.5) of the Multi-Axis Chart with some of the most awaited customer requests, including annotations for storytelling, external URL linking, advanced data label, and axis customizations. It supports 20+ chart options, covering single series, multiple series, combo charts, dual axis, grouped charts, multiple axes and flipped axes charts. Stacked chart dedicated enhancements like display column totals for Stacked chart, tooltips for stacked scenario, styling options have also been added to this release.

Story Telling in Power BI
Add data-point annotations with context to enhance your storytelling experience with textual call outs and drive attentions to important areas. Annotations helps communicate one’s ideas effectively by drawing attention to the marked areas with different colored icons and arrows.

The following are the list of new features added to Multi-Axis Chart:

  • Annotation
  • Runtime deviation Bar
  • External URL
  • Interaction – Lasso, reverse Lasso, Zoom
  • Column Totals for stacked charts
  • Styling – Pattern for stacked chart
  • New chart option – Lollipop, Stepped Area and Line Charts
  • Data Label Customization for Individual Series
  • Specific data label positioning and format options for line, column, and Stacked charts
  • Number formatting specific to each series
  • Axis Break for Y axis
  • Log Axis
  • X Axis label display options
  • Time Series capabilities
  • Series ordering
  • Series visibility
  • Breadcrumb
  • Marker customization for Line, area, and Lollipop
  • Tooltip enhancements – Shared tooltip and Stacked chart tooltip
  • Responsiveness – axis labels auto hide

Download the latest version of this visual from AppSource.


Support for Excel financial functions

We have heard from many financial professionals that they want DAX to support Excel’s built-in financial functions. With this release, we are excited to announce that we have added 49 financial functions to DAX.
Almost all financial functions that you know and love from Excel are now available in DAX, in addition to XNPV and XIRR that we have added earlier. The functions have the same name and signature as their Excel counterparts, so if you have used the Financial functions in Excel, you should feel right at home. Together, these new financial functions make it easier to build financial reports and perform otherwise complex calculations in Power BI. Note that although these functions are available for all languages, the functions themselves will be in English only at this point.

Here’s the full list of financial functions:

  • FV
  • PMT
  • PV
  • RATE
  • PPMT
  • IPMT
  • NPER
  • RRI
  • DB
  • SLN
  • DDB
  • SYD
  • DISC
  • VDB

Model view enabled for live connect is now generally available

The model view enabled for live connected sources is now generally available. In addition to making the feature generally available, we’ve added in a couple updates:

  • If you are connected to a multidimensional source or an older version of AS, relationship lines will be displayed. Keep in mind that column information will not be shown.
  • If you have display folders and are viewing a model with translated captions, your display folders will now show those caption names.

Data Preparation

Global option to disable automatic type detection

When working against schema-less data sources (such as Files, Web Pages, etc.), Power Query will try to automatically detect column headers and types based on the data. For some time, it’s also been possible to disable automatic type detection as a “current file” option.

A very frequent customer request was to make this option also available globally so that advanced users can always disable type detection. With this month’s release, we’re introducing a new global option that allows users to disable automatic header and type detection against schema-less sources.

This new option can be found under the Options dialog (under Global > Data Load). It allows users to control whether header/type detection should be always enabled, always disabled or depend on the specific setting for the current file (available under Current File > Data Load).

Template Apps

YouTube Analytics by MAQ Software

The YouTube Analytics by MAQ Software allows YouTube channel owners and contributors to identify and analyze their content performance across time through data received from comments and feedback. This report is targeted towards enterprises & independent channel owners who want to gauge their channel & campaign performance across time. By consolidating the key data points in a single report, users will get a quick overview to help evaluate channel performance.

The YouTube Analytics enables sales operations personnel to identify and analyze things like:

  • Which videos have the highest reach & engagement?
  • The overall success rate (total views/total likes)
  • Comments trend across time
  • Top emerging themes

Using the insights found in YouTube Analytics, social media channel administrators can:

  • Uncover insights faster – Derive valuable insights faster by analyzing and visualizing your channels and channels in terms of content performance
  • Campaign Planning– Extract and identify underlying themes which can be correlated with channel content to design campaign strategies
  • Optimize content performance – Implement the insights gained to improve & optimize the channel content performance

To use this app, users must:

  • Have a Google API keywith access to the library ‘YouTube Data API v3’.
  • Be a Power BI Pro User
    Note: Normal YouTube quota calculations as described here are applicable.

How to connect data

1. You will need a Google API key with access to the library ‘YouTube Data API v3’.

2. Fetch the channel ID from your YouTube Channel.

3. After these details, you will be asked to validate 4 connection strings with Authentication method set to Anonymous and privacy level setting as ‘Public’.

4. After all the above steps, report will be refreshed with the data of the channel.

The YouTube analytics by MAQ Software template app is available for download from AppSource.


Launch external tools from Power BI Desktop (preview)

Power BI Desktop supports external-tool extensibility to provide additional value beyond the core functionality. Leveraging the rich history of community tools for Analysis Services, this unlocks additional Analysis Services engine features for BI professionals, DAX query/expression optimization and authoring, and application lifecycle management (ALM).

The External Tools ribbon contains buttons for external tools installed on the machine and registered with Power BI Desktop. External tools launched from Power BI Desktop are automatically connected to the Analysis Services engine running behind Power BI Desktop providing a seamless experience for users.

To learn more about this new capability, check out our blog post.


That’s 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 Desktop. We hope that you enjoy the update!

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