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  • Writer's pictureLachlan McLeod

Power BI Update: April 2023

Are you tired of manually formatting your Power BI reports to fit different contexts? Look no further than Power BI's latest update, which introduces dynamic format strings for measures. With this new feature, you can format a measure differently based on slicer selection or other conditions, giving you more flexibility and control over your report formatting. But that's not all - the On-Object Interaction feature has also received updates based on user feedback, including support for card visuals and improved behaviour when changing visual types. And don't forget about the Quick Measure Suggestions feature, now updated and powered by Azure OpenAI, allowing you to create DAX measures using natural language. Finally, the General Availability of composite models on Power BI datasets and Analysis Services models provides even more capabilities for building powerful analytical models. Keep reading to learn about these exciting updates and how they can enhance your data analytics experience.

 

Dynamic Format Strings for Measures (Preview)


Power BI’s latest update introduces a new feature to delight many users: dynamic format strings for measures. With this feature, you can format a measure differently based on slicer selection or other conditions. This gives you more flexibility to adjust the format string to various contexts within a report, such as currency conversion, by using the currency format strings from your Currency table.


To add a dynamic format string to a measure, click on the measure in the Data pane. Then, in the Measure tools ribbon, select “Dynamic” from the Format dropdown.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

This will add a new dropdown to the left of the DAX formula bar with the default format string. However, you can delete it and use any DAX expression you want for your dynamic format string.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

If you want to return to your measure DAX expression, simply change the left dropdown to “Measure”.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

To remove the dynamic format string, go back to the Format dropdown and choose any of the other options available. A warning dialog will appear as this action cannot be undone.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Dynamic format strings are not new and are already available in calculation groups in SQL Server Analysis Services, Azure Analysis Services, and/or Power BI using external tools. This feature now makes these dynamic format string DAX patterns available in individual measures in Power BI.


To learn more about calculation groups, visit the Calculation Groups section on the Power BI website. This new feature provides greater flexibility and control over your report formatting, making it easier to display your data in the most effective way possible.

 

On-Object Interaction – Updates (Preview)


Power BI's On-object interaction feature has recently been updated with some improvements based on user feedback. This feature allows users to interact with visuals in a report by clicking or hovering over them to reveal additional information or perform specific actions. Here are some of the updates made this month:


  • Card visual is now supported: Previously, only certain visual types were supported for on-object interaction. With this update, card visuals can now be used as well.

  • Improved behaviour when changing visual types: If a user chooses to use a different visual type than what is suggested by the auto mode (such as top 5 or full gallery), the auto mode will be turned off to prevent unexpected changes to the visuals.

  • Added Chevron menu to panes: A new menu has been added to the panes to allow for easy minimizing or collapsing.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
  • Paste added to the canvas context menu: Users can now paste elements onto the canvas using the context menu.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
  • Drag a field to the closed build button: This new feature allows users to drag a field onto the closed build button to add it to the visual.

  • Bug fixes: Various bugs were addressed, including maintaining the data pane's expansion state while using the pane switcher and ensuring that hidden fields are shown in the build menu's data flyout if "view hidden" is turned on.

Power BI encourages users to continue providing feedback about the feature to improve its functionality. Feedback can be submitted directly in the comments of the official Power BI blog post or through the "share feedback" link next to the preview switch.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
 

Updates to Quick Measure Suggestions


The latest Power BI update includes an update to the Quick Measure Suggestions feature, which was previously released as an opt-in experimental preview in October. Powered by Azure OpenAI, this feature allows users to create DAX measures using natural language, eliminating the need to write DAX from scratch. The update removes the experimental label and enables the preview feature by default, so users do not have to manually turn it on in the options menu of Power BI Desktop.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

With this feature, users can generate calculations and business logic for different measure scenarios, including time intelligence, math and text operations, and if conditions, among others.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

It is important to note that this feature is powered by a machine learning model that is currently deployed only to US data centres, specifically East US and West US. As a result, if your data is outside the US, the feature will be disabled by default unless your tenant admin enables the "Allow user data to leave their geography" tenant setting.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

To try out this feature, users can access the Quick Measure Suggestions option in the Field tab of the ribbon. Users can then select the measure type and provide a natural language description to generate a DAX expression. The feature suggests a possible DAX expression for the description provided, which can be further modified or customized by the user as needed.


With this update, Power BI aims to enhance analyst productivity and enable business users to uplevel their data analytics skills. Users are encouraged to try out this feature and provide feedback to help improve its functionality further. For more information on this feature, users can refer to the Power BI documentation.

 

Composite models on Power BI Datasets and Analysis Services models - now generally available!


Power BI has recently announced the General Availability of composite models on Power BI datasets and Analysis Services models, which were previously known as DirectQuery during the preview period. This update offers new capabilities that enable accountants to build powerful analytical models with ease.


Composite models on Power BI datasets and Analysis Services Tabular models are now generally available and fully supported on Premium, PPU, and new Pro workspaces. This means that accountants can leverage these features to create more complex models that combine data from multiple sources. This update also brings support for existing Pro workspaces, which will be announced later as the backend changes are completed.


With composite models, accountants can easily create data models that span multiple sources and relationships between them. For example, an accountant can use data from a database and Excel spreadsheets to create a single report in Power BI. The composite model allows the data to be combined, queried, and visualized as a single data source.


Additionally, Power BI is making changes to the backend that may affect accountants' reports. With these changes, reports may no longer require Build permissions to be readable by consumers. As a result, accountants can remove Build permissions for their consumers and rely solely on Read permissions.


In conclusion, this update makes it easier for accountants to create and maintain powerful analytical models with the help of Power BI's composite models on Power BI datasets and Analysis Services models. These new features offer a great deal of flexibility and convenience, making it simpler to work with complex data sets and create insightful reports. For more information on this update, visit the detailed blog post on the Power BI website.

 

Updates to the ORDERBY Function


The latest update to the ORDERBY function in Power BI has made it even more powerful. Previously, the function only accepted a column name as its first parameter, but it can now accept any DAX expression. This update provides more control over the ordering of input data and makes it easier to do comparison calculations.


For example, to find out which customer has made the most purchases and return their full name, we can use the ORDERBY function with an expression that returns the sum of SalesAmount, like this:

BiggestSpender = 
INDEX (
    1,
    ALLSELECTED ( 'DimCustomer'[FullName] ),
    ORDERBY ( CALCULATE ( SUM ( 'FactInternetSales'[SalesAmount] ) ), DESC )
)

In the above example, we use the CALCULATE function to sum the SalesAmount column and then pass that as the first parameter to the ORDERBY function. The DESC keyword is used to specify that we want to sort the results in descending order.


Alternatively, we can achieve the same result using a measure called Total Sales defined as:

[Total Sales] = 
SUM ( 'FactInternetSales'[SalesAmount] )

In this case, the BiggestSpender definition would change slightly to:

BiggestSpender = 
INDEX (
    1,
    ALLSELECTED ( 'DimCustomer'[FullName] ),
    ORDERBY ( [Total Sales], DESC)
)

To learn more about the ORDERBY function and how it can be used in Power BI, refer to the official documentation.

 

New DAX Functions: RANK and ROWNUMBER


Power BI introduces new features for data analysis and visualization, and in this blog post, we will highlight the latest updates that are geared towards accountants as the target audience. One of the latest updates is the general availability of composite models on Power BI datasets and Analysis Services models. Composite models allow users to combine multiple data sources and analyze them together. Composite models can now be used on Premium, PPU, and new Pro workspaces, and will be available for existing Pro workspaces soon. Additionally, the new ORDERBY function update now accepts any DAX expression as the first parameter, making it easier to do comparison calculations. The RANK and ROWNUMBER functions have also been added, providing users with more control over rankings and ordering in their analyses.


With the new ORDERBY function update, users can now use any DAX expression as the first parameter. For example, to find out which customer has bought the most and return their full name, users can use an expression that returns the sum of SalesAmount. The RANK and ROWNUMBER functions are also helpful for ranking data in the specified partition, sorted by the specified order. The difference between RANK and ROWNUMBER is that ROWNUMBER will return an error if there is a tie, whereas RANK will assign the same rank multiple times. However, ROWNUMBER will try to avoid returning an error by finding the least number of additional columns required to uniquely identify every row and appending these new columns to the ORDERBY clause.


In conclusion, the latest updates to Power BI are geared towards accountants who are familiar with Power BI and want to learn about the new updates and features available in the latest version. With the introduction of composite models, ORDERBY function updates, and the new RANK and ROWNUMBER functions, Power BI continues to provide more powerful and efficient tools for data analysis and visualization.

 

Deployment Pipelines: View Schema Changes Line-by-Line


Power BI has recently added new features to its Deployment Pipeline that allow users to view schema changes line-by-line. This new functionality is aimed at improving the efficiency and accuracy of deployments by helping users review changes before they are deployed.


Using a compare tool is a great way to ensure that changes are deployed with confidence and that the risk of errors and inconsistencies is reduced. Power BI's Compare tool has been extended to include a new option that allows users to review an item's changed lines. These lines are highlighted on the schema and presented in a dedicated pop-up window that follows industry standards for code comparison.


To try out this new feature, users can use the Change Review functionality. With this feature, users can review schema changes line-by-line and ensure that any potential issues are identified before deployment. This feature is especially useful for larger deployments that involve multiple items as it helps users ensure that all changes are accounted for.


To learn more about this new feature and other enhancements to Power BI's Deployment Pipeline, users can read the blog posts "Review changes to paired items" and "Deployment enhancement – Don't miss deploying the rest of the items when one of them failed." By incorporating these new features into their workflow, Power BI users can improve the accuracy and efficiency of their deployments.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
 

Paginated Reports: Filters and Data Preview

In the latest update, Power BI introduces new capabilities for paginated report web authoring. These capabilities include the ability to add filters to the report and an improved data preview experience.


Filters can now be added to the report level, allowing the filter to apply to all pages of the report.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

There are two ways to add a column to the Filters pane: selecting columns from the Data pane or dragging and dropping data fields into the Filters pane.


The data preview experience has also been updated, providing users with the ability to view underlying data from selected tables or columns from the dataset. Users can export the data to supported file formats or create a paginated report from the summarized data. If users want to switch from summarized to underlying data, they can choose more options (...) in the Fields data pane.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

To learn more about adding filters and using the data preview feature, Power BI provides documentation on its website. Users can also join their user panel to stay informed on new capabilities and features.

 

For the rest of the Power BI April 2023 update, click here, or if you would like to discuss Power BI for your business, email info@pt20.com.au or give us a call on +61 746 596 700.

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