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  • Writer's pictureLachlan McLeod

Power BI Update: November 2023

Discover the latest Power BI updates ushering in a new era of data exploration and visualisation. The Button Slicer and Reference Labels provide customizable and efficient tools for streamlined interactions, while Copilot transforms Q&A visuals. Witness the shift from datasets to semantic models, marking a milestone in Power BI's evolution. Delve into the power of DAX queries and explore enhanced data model editing features in the Power BI Service. The Explore feature offers a lightweight exploration experience, and Copilot in Microsoft Fabric redefines report creation. Additionally, the "Show visuals as tables" feature enhances accessibility, catering to diverse learning styles in data consumption.

 

Button slicer (Preview)

Introducing the Button Slicer! Power BI's latest update aims to streamline data exploration. Replacing the older tile slicer, this tool promises a more customizable and efficient experience for making data-driven decisions. The November upgrade focuses on user-friendliness and customisation, marking the initial phase of a five-stage journey to enhance data insights.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

The Button Slicer comes with several enhancements, allowing users more control over design elements. Adjustments to corner radius, grid layouts, and spacing are now possible. Improved alignment and format properties, along with features like image control and interactive states, aim to offer a more versatile data visualisation experience. The update includes refinements in selection features, tooltips, and various other aspects, contributing to a more efficient data analysis process.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

To access the Button Slicer, users can explore the Visual gallery or right-click on the canvas to build a visual. The feature preview can be toggled on or off under Options > Preview features > New button slicer. This marks just the beginning of the slicer roadmap, with upcoming stages set to introduce further improvements, such as the List and dropdown slicer.

 

Reference Labels (Preview)

In this month's Power BI Feature Summary, there's another noteworthy update called Reference Labels, representing the second step in a five-stage improvement plan for the new card visual. Reference Labels are a versatile feature allowing users to add custom labels to new cards, conveying relevant information, comparisons, key metrics, benchmarks, and goals in a visually appealing and concise manner. The November upgrade introduces this exciting tool that promises to enhance data representation.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Reference Labels offer a range of creative possibilities, allowing users to add multiple data fields to the labels. The three main components, Title, Value, and Detail, offer flexibility in presenting information. Users can also choose custom content from different data fields or measures and apply various styles to both Title and Value. The Detail component provides extra context, customisable with styles and colours. Reference Labels can have their own area with an active Divider, allowing modification of the divider line and use of colour to differentiate callout and reference labels. Users can opt for horizontal or vertical layouts with custom spacing and padding.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

With this preview update, Reference Labels are turned on by default for user convenience. Users can find this feature in the Visual gallery on the ribbon, or by selecting "Build a visual" after right-clicking on the canvas. The preview feature can be toggled on or off under Options > Preview features > Reference labels. As the journey continues, the next stages in the Card visual improvement plan promise even more exciting features.

 

Enhance your Q&A visual with suggested synonyms from Copilot (Preview)

The Q&A visual in Power BI allows users to ask questions about their data and receive visual answers, making data exploration more accessible without in-depth knowledge of the model or report creation.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Currently, the Q&A visual operates without generative AI, relying on linguistic principles to process natural language input within Power BI. While it excels at answering precise questions, it may struggle with certain inputs. To enhance accuracy, Q&A setup tools have been introduced, emphasising the inclusion of synonyms for column and table names in the model. This allows authors to define different ways users might refer to their data, ensuring consistent and accurate responses.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Two types of synonyms are recognized in Power BI: approved synonyms and suggestions. Approved synonyms, either field names or author-added, are treated with high confidence, while suggestions, derived from various sources, have lower priority and are indicated with a dotted orange underline. Managing synonyms is crucial for improving the Q&A experience, but it can be time-consuming.


Enter Copilot for Power BI - a feature that streamlines the synonym generation process. Authors can enable Copilot in Power BI Desktop and receive Copilot-suggested synonyms to enhance the accuracy of Q&A visual responses.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

However, users may encounter throttling or incomplete results during peak usage, and continuous improvements are expected as Copilot evolves alongside the Q&A visual. Keep an eye out for future features combining Copilot and Q&A.

 

Narrative visual with Copilot

Introducing the Narrative with Copilot visual, formerly known as Smart Narratives. This tool incorporates Copilot's summarisation feature, enabling users to efficiently summarise data across their report, selected pages, or specific visuals. The visual provides suggested prompts like "Give me an executive summary" or allows users to input custom prompts for tailored data summaries.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
Used with permission from Microsoft.
Used with permission from Microsoft.

Users have the flexibility to choose the scope of the summary, whether it's for the entire report, specific pages, or chosen visuals. The visual includes references for each part of the summary, aligning with visuals across the report for easy validation and linking back to the data source. The summary updates dynamically as users interact with the data, facilitating real-time exploration without prompt editing.


The Narrative visual with Copilot simplifies the communication of data insights, offering a practical tool for understanding and sharing meaningful data stories. This visual is accessible in both the Power BI service and Power BI Desktop, providing users with a valuable resource for data analysis and reporting.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
 

Datasets renamed to semantic models

In Power BI and Fabric, a notable change is underway as datasets are being renamed to "semantic models." This adjustment is aimed at avoiding confusion with other Fabric items, enhancing clarity and usability within the product. Users will observe this modification in prominent user interface elements, and the accompanying documentation is being updated accordingly. Importantly, this change doesn't impact current APIs, and further adjustments will be gradually introduced. The timing of this update aligns with the impending general availability of Fabric and follows the trend of renaming for machine learning models. This shift highlights the significant progress Power BI datasets have made in evolving into a robust, enterprise-grade semantic modelling technology. The adoption of the semantic model name is intended to raise awareness of its distinct capabilities.


The transition to semantic models signifies a milestone in Power BI's evolution, emphasizing its role as a sophisticated semantic modelling technology within the enterprise landscape. This change, synchronised with Fabric's general availability, reflects Power BI's commitment to providing a clear and efficient user experience. Users can expect to see this semantic model terminology in key parts of the product interface, solidifying its place in Power BI's suite of advanced features.


The renaming from datasets to semantic models is part of a broader strategy to streamline Power BI's user interface and align it with industry standards. While this change primarily affects how these entities are referred to in the product, it showcases Power BI's dedication to refining its offerings for a more user-friendly and cohesive experience. Keep an eye out for updates and further improvements as Power BI continues to evolve in response to user needs and industry trends.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
 

DAX query view to write and run DAX queries on your model (Preview)

Explore and analyse your data model with ease using the new DAX query view in Power BI Desktop. This feature, serving as the fourth view, allows users to leverage the powerful DAX query language through EVALUATE. Model authors can swiftly validate data and measures within their semantic model without the need to create visuals or use additional tools. Changes made to measures can be updated directly back to the semantic model. DAX queries, distinct from DAX expressions used to create model items, resemble SQL queries, returning data in a tabular format.


In the DAX query view, users have various ways to enhance productivity. Quick queries generate DAX queries in the Data pane context menu, providing a head start for previewing data or displaying summary statistics. Users can also retrieve the DAX expression of measures, facilitating a deeper understanding of data. Updates to model options are available with any DAX query modifications, allowing for seamless integration. The DAX query view's functionality includes a larger editor similar to VS Code, featuring keyboard shortcuts and improved readability through query formatting.


More features and improvements are in the pipeline for the DAX query view, with user feedback playing a crucial role. A DAX query view Copilot is in development, and plans include extending the view to live connect reports and the Power BI service. Additional insights into debugging and performance of DAX are also on the horizon. To get started, turn on this public preview feature in Options > Preview features and learn more about DAX queries at aka.ms/dax-queries.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
 

Edit your data model in the Power BI Service – Updates

The new data model editing feature in the Power BI Service, which entered preview in April, has undergone enhancements based on user feedback. This month, several improvements are introduced:

  • Mark as Date Table: Users can now designate a table in their data model as a date table within the Power BI Service. This allows the marked table to be utilized for various date-related elements, including visuals, tables, and quick measures, with comprehensive Time Intelligence support. To set a date table, users can right-click on the desired table, select 'Mark as date table > Mark as date table' from the menu, and then specify the date column.

  • Rename and Delete Tables and Columns: Users can now rename and delete any table or column directly within the Service. This added functionality provides greater flexibility for refining and organizing the data model to better suit specific needs.

 

Explore (Preview)

In Power BI, users often need to explore their data on-the-fly without the hassle of creating a full report. Whether it's an analyst delving into a new dataset or a business user seeking specific answers for a presentation, the usual process of building a report from scratch can be cumbersome for quick insights or screenshots.


Enter the public preview of the Explore feature—an efficient way for users to delve into their data. Similar to creating a PivotTable in Excel, Explore offers a streamlined experience within Power BI. Users can easily launch Explore, build a matrix/visual pair, and extract the needed answers without the complexities of a complete report. This feature is designed for a lightweight and focused exploration, providing a quick solution to data analysis without unnecessary distractions.

To use Explore, users only need to select the dataset or report they want to explore, start building their matrix/visual pair to find answers, and even save their progress as an exploration for future reference.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

For more details, refer to the Microsoft blog post, "Introducing Explore (Public Preview)."

 

Copilot for Power BI in Microsoft Fabric Public Preview

Exciting news for Power BI users! Microsoft Fabric has introduced the public preview of Copilot, an innovative tool designed to assist users in creating reports seamlessly within the Power BI web experience. Unfortunately, this feature is only available to users in workspaces with P1 (Power BI Premium) or higher, or F64 (Microsoft Fabric) or higher capacity.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Copilot's unique summarisation ability is now integrated into the rebranded Narrative with Copilot visual (formerly known as the Smart Narrative visual). This visual is accessible in both the Power BI service and Power BI Desktop, offering a user-friendly experience for report creation.


Additionally, in Power BI Desktop, users can now leverage Copilot to generate synonyms for fields, measures, and tables, streamlining the process of data exploration. For detailed instructions and requirements, refer to Microsoft's Copilot for Power BI Docs.

 

Show visuals as tables (Preview)

In a bid to enhance accessibility, Power BI introduces a new view mode called "Show visuals as tables." This feature allows users to display report visuals in a tabular format with a single action, catering to diverse learning styles and assistive technology usage. Some users may prefer a text-based or tabular presentation of data, and this mode provides an alternative format, offering flexibility to meet individual needs.


Similar to the existing "Show as a table" feature, which displays underlying data for individual visuals, "Show visuals as tables" extends this functionality to showcase the underlying data for visuals across all pages in the current report. This new view mode ensures not only visibility but also interaction and cross-filtering capabilities. To activate this mode, users can simply navigate to the view dropdown menu and select "Show visuals as tables."

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Reverting to the original visual display can be done by selecting "Show original visuals" or using the keyboard shortcut Control + Shift + F11 to toggle between the two views.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

For more details, including limitations, refer to the documentation titled "Consuming reports in Power BI with accessibility tools." This feature aims to make data consumption more adaptable and user-friendly for a wider audience.

 

For the rest of the Power BI November 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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