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  • Writer's pictureLachlan McLeod

Power BI Update: September 2023

Exciting enhancements are here in the latest Power BI update. From seamless mobile interactions and smarter Smart Narratives to simplified data modelling and enhanced Q&A capabilities, this update is packed with features to supercharge your data analysis. Dive in and explore the possibilities!


Mobile layout interactive canvas

In their latest update, the Power BI team introduce an exciting feature: an interactive canvas for mobile devices. This means that users can now interact with elements like buttons, slicers, and visuals on the app, allowing them to preview how everything will work before they publish their report.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

But there's even more to this update. Thanks to the canvas interactivity, users can now directly interact with visuals and make adjustments to Table and Matrix column headers, ensuring a seamless fit for mobile screens.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

This enhancement promises to make the mobile layout experience smoother and more user-friendly.

In essence, this update brings a new level of interactivity to the mobile layout canvas, empowering users to fine-tune their reports and ensure they look and behave perfectly on mobile devices.


Smart Narrative improvements

The Smart Narrative feature has been upgraded to give users more flexibility. It can now display either text or numbers when presenting data from a column. In the past, it could only show numeric values.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

For those interested in exploring the Smart Narrative's summarisation abilities further, there's a helpful resource available at Create smart narrative summaries on Microsoft Learn. This improvement in the Smart Narrative tool makes it easier for users to convey information in the way that best suits their needs, whether through text or numbers.


Edit your data model in the Power BI Service – Updates

The Power BI Service is getting a handy new feature that lets users edit their data models. This feature was introduced as a preview in April, and the team has been actively listening to user feedback to make it even better. Some exciting improvements are on the way this month.

One significant improvement is related to layout changes. Now, when you make changes to your data model's layout in Power BI Desktop, those changes will carry over to the Power BI Service when you upload the .PBIX file. Similarly, if you make layout changes in the data model within the Power BI Service, those changes will be reflected in the Desktop version when you download the .PBIX file.

The Power BI team is keen to hear your thoughts, so you're encouraged to share your feedback in the comments of their blog post or in the feedback forum. Your input helps make the tool even more useful and user-friendly.


Edit linguistic relationships in Q&A setup

The Q&A visual is a helpful tool that allows users to ask questions about their data and receive visual answers. It makes data exploration easy for users without requiring them to be data experts or report creators.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

However, sometimes the Q&A tool needs a bit of guidance to understand specific language and context. For instance, if a user asks about the "best consoles this year," the tool needs to connect terms like "consoles" to "products" and understand that "best" relates to high sales values. To address this, Q&A setup tools have been introduced, enabling report creators to define synonyms for column and table names in the data model. This ensures that the Q&A tool consistently provides accurate answers based on the language used by report consumers.

In addition to synonyms, there's another aspect to consider – the relationships between different terms, like verbs, adjectives, and prepositions. These relationships can't be defined as simply as synonyms, as they depend on the context. To tackle this, a new Relationships tab has been added to the Q&A setup menu.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Here, users can define various types of linguistic relationships to enhance the Q&A experience.

The Power BI team is continually working to improve the Q&A tool, aiming to strike a balance between precision and customizability. Future updates may include AI-generated suggestions to streamline the process of defining synonyms and relationships. This ongoing development ensures that users can get the best possible insights from their data using natural language queries.


DAX function changes to MINX and MAXX

Changes have been made to the MINX and MAXX DAX functions, which are used to find the minimum and maximum values in a dataset. Previously, these functions would ignore text and Boolean values when dealing with mixed data types. Now, there's an optional variant parameter, and when set to TRUE, it allows these functions to consider text values while still ignoring Boolean values.

To clarify, if you use MINX or MAXX without the variant parameter (or with it set to FALSE), they will continue to disregard text and Boolean data types as they did before. However, by setting the variant parameter to TRUE, these functions will start including text values while still ignoring Boolean ones.

It's important to note that the default setting for the variant parameter is FALSE, so any existing DAX expressions using MINX and MAXX won't be affected by this change. If you want to include text values in your calculations, you can update your DAX expression to include TRUE as the third parameter. More information about these changes can be found on Microsoft Learn:


Edit relationships in the properties pane

Power BI has officially released a feature called "Edit Relationships in the Properties Pane." This feature, which was previously available for preview since October 2022, allows users to edit their data relationships more conveniently. Now, users can simply click on a relationship line in the modeling view to edit it in the properties pane. This functionality is available both in Power BI Desktop's Model view and in the web modelling of the Power BI service.

What makes this feature particularly valuable is that it lets users edit relationships without triggering data queries. Instead, you can preview the changes you make to relationships without affecting your data sources, and the relationship validation only happens when you click "apply changes." This is especially beneficial for those using the DirectQuery storage mode, as it reduces the time and impact on data sources.

For more guidance on how to make the most of this feature, you can visit the Microsoft Learn page on creating and managing relationships in Power BI Desktop. It's a helpful resource for understanding and using this new capability effectively.


Row-level security test as role improvements

The row-level security test as role feature in the Service has received some important upgrades based on user feedback. This month, several improvements have been introduced to make this experience smoother and more informative.

One key enhancement is the addition of a new dropdown menu that lets you select and test any report linked to the dataset you're working with. This makes it easier to check how row-level security functions across different reports.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Furthermore, when you're testing a role for a specific person, you can now readily access essential information about their permissions. This helps you understand and verify the level of access that individual has.

Used with permission from Microsoft.

Additionally, the warning and error messages have been improved, ensuring that you receive clearer and more helpful feedback during the testing process. For more in-depth information on how to validate row-level security roles in the Service, you can refer to the provided documentation. These updates aim to enhance the row-level security testing experience, making it more user-friendly and effective.


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

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