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  • Writer's pictureLachlan McLeod

Power BI Update | September 2022

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

In a massive update for Power BI this month, the Microsoft team have introduced some exciting new features - namely Cross-Tenant Dataset Sharing! With a focus on improving business-to-business data sharing in the next few months, we are expecting some exciting new releases from Microsoft!


Keep up-to-date on the key features that have been introduced this month below:

 

Hierarchical x-axis is now the default

One of Power BI’s more useful capabilities is the ability to visualise multiple categorical fields in a hierarchical x-axis.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

The grouped x-axis is an organized way to add an additional dimension to the data in any chart, especially when dealing with subcategories that are specific to individual category fields or sequential subcategories such as more granular dates, especially when a different form of visualising these additional dimensions, like using a legend or small multiples, would not be nearly as clear as the hierarchical x-axis.


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

Before this month's release, formatting a chart to use the hierarchical x-axis was a multiple-step process involving:

  1. adding a new field to the X-axis field well and expanding the visual down to the next level,

  2. turning off the concatenate labels option in the formatting pane, and

  3. sorting the visual by the axis fields rather than by value fields, or else categories and subcategories would not be grouped properly.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

This month, the Power BI team adjusted the default behaviour to ensure that the hierarchical x-axis is automatically activated when a user drags multiple fields into the x-axis field well of charts s the feature. The concatenate labels option is now off by default in the formatting pane. Visuals will now auto-expand down to the bottom of a hierarchy and sort by category when multiple fields are added to the x-axis field well. Below is a table summarising the exact changes in the behaviour:

Behaviour

Before September 2022

After September 2022

Concatenate labels

On - by default

Off - by default

Adding new fields to the x-axis

  • won't change fields shown on the visual

  • user must manually expand

  • expands to the lowest level when the visual supports a hierarchical axis and the axis is categorical or date based

Sort behaviour

  • ​sorts by measure values if no explicit sorting has been defined

  • sorts by category when a hierarchical axis is supported, the visual is expanded down and the user has not explicitly set a sort

  • sorts by measure values otherwise

 

Improved display names for summarised fields

To improve people's comprehension of Power BI reports, the Power BI team have updated the display names for summarised fields to now include details on how the data has been aggregated:

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Previously, information about aggregates would be dropped from the display name. Feedback from users indicated that dropping the aggregate was leading to reports being misinterpreted.

An example of this is in the table below - Sales and Unit Price columns do not indicate to users how they are being aggregated. This may cause users to think both columns are being summed, which in this case is incorrect for the Unit Price column - which is instead being averaged.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

This improvement will be available on all new reports by default. To enable this behaviour for existing reports, go to File > Options and settings > Options > Default summarization and enable the setting: For aggregated fields, always show the default summarization type.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
 

Conditional formatting for data labels

Last month, the Power BI team released an update to conditional formatting for data labels that have them apply to each individual data point rather than all of them together. Initially, this improvement was limited to visuals without a field in the Legend field well. This month expands the availability of this feature to visuals with a field in the Legend field well!

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Since improving this functionality, the conditional formatting button has been returned to the formatting pane for visuals with legend fields. Note that the existing conditional formatting rules for data labels will not be affected until the rules are reapplied and the report is republished.

 

Cross-Tenant Dataset Sharing

In exciting news, the Power BI Team have introduced a new cross-tenant dataset sharing capability into public preview! This brand new capability allows for sharing Power BI datasets with external users in a way that allows these external users to access the datasets from their own Power BI tenant. They can then work with these shared datasets in their own tenant and create composite data models by combining the shared datasets with their own internal data. The composite model can then be published on the service for reporting purposes.

With in-place sharing, the shared data remains in the provider's tenant. External users query the shared datasets directly from the source data systems. They can also connect to external datasets using the Direct Query method and build their own composite models and reports on top of the shared data, eliminating the need to manually transfer data between organizations. These composite models built on top of external datasets can also be analyzed in Excel. This capability is particularly useful in scenarios involving sharing data with external partners, customers, subsidiaries, vendors, consultants, and other business partners - enabling enriched data collaboration and unlocking further value through data!

The Power BI team have also recognised the need to provide governance over external sharing - so the dataset sharing capability has two tenant settings that enable Power BI admins either to disable cross-tenant data sharing entirely or to control which users and/or user groups are allowed to share datasets across tenants. These controls enable organizations to better manage dataset access and sharing in line with their data policies.

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

When external data sharing is enabled, owners of specific datasets need to go to the settings of the dataset to be shared and enable external sharing (see image below), providing more granular control over which datasets can be shared externally.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

External users need to have an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) guest account in the provider's tenant for them to be able to access the shared datasets. The external users can then discover these datasets in Power BI Desktop, as illustrated in the following image:

Used with permission from Microsoft.

External users can connect to the external dataset, and then build composite models by adding either other external datasets or their own internal datasets. These new datasets can then be published to the Power BI service. Once published, external users can access the new datasets in the Power BI service in their own tenant and build further reporting on top of them. These reports can be shared with other users in their own organization, provided that those users also have the required Azure AD guest credentials in the original provider's tenant.

 

Improved discoverability for content from external sources

Power BI users who are guest users in any other tenant will now see a new tab on their Power BI home page called “From external orgs”. This tab will list all dashboards, reports and datasets that you have access to as a guest user (that have been shared with you from external tenants). The interface will allow you to filter and sort the displayed list to help find content and even display which organisations are sharing the content with you. When opening content from this screen, a new window will open and take you to the relevant tenant for accessing the content.

Used with permission from Microsoft.
 

For the rest of the Power BI September 2022 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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