A feature packed Microsoft Power BI August 2017 update

Ross MacKenzie
Tags: Microsoft Microsoft Power BI

The ever-evolving Power BI received another bunch of updates this month. Foremost amongst these was the highly anticipated What If feature, but there were also a number of tweaks and additions to the table and matrix visual, and some new analytics features.

Here’s the pick of the August 2017 Power BI Desktop updates…

What If feature

Many of you will already be familiar with the concept of a ‘What if…’ feature. It’s already a popular feature in Excel, where users can substitute their own value for a variable within a formula, observing the effect it has on the end output. It’s been a common user request and the Power BI team announced a similar feature for their product back in June at the Data Insights Summit keynote. Now it’s finally seeing the light of day in the August updates.

Essentially you now have a new section in the Modelling tab allowing you to create new expressions to use in DAX analysis.

Power BI were so excited about this one that they held a What If Report Contest, inviting users to “tap into your creative side and build a fun report” incorporating a “crazy dataset or a cool unexpected use”. That contest is open until 1 September 2017, and the winners will be unveiled shortly after that.

Other analytics updates

What If was the headline grabber, but there are a couple more noteworthy updates in analytics, including two new options in Scatter charts. The first of these is symmetry shading, which lets you see which points have higher x-axis values compared to the y-axis measures (and vice versa). This is complemented by a new ratio line feature that plots the x-axis and y-axis subtotal ratios to enable you see at a glance which is higher.

Finally, in analytics a new weighted average per category has been added as a quick measure.

Reporting updates

With the table and matrix visuals having previously been made generally available, a number of new features have been added. Users can now display values as rows as well as column headers and you are now able to apply conditional formatting to column font colours and not just cell backgrounds.

You can now customise the matrix visual to set whether subtotals are shown for each level of the matrix hierarchy, and you also have the option of moving the row subtotals to the bottom, instead of having them automatically placed at the top.

Line charts receive more formatting options, in the form of dotted or dashed lines as well as solid lines. Used in conjunction with colour formatting, this provides some distinctive chart options. You can customise your line chart legend and, moving on to scatter charts, the performance has been boosted so that you should experience up to a 30 percent improvement in load times.

Data connectivity

The Power BI service connector is now generally available. This feature enables users to connect to any of their datasets in the Power BI service, and making it easy to create a single model to reuse in multiple reports. A new connector is also being released in August for Google BigQuery.

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