Power BI Updates: What you should know (July 2020)
As always, another month means another great update of Power BI from the Microsoft team. The new updates are full of cool features ranging from report features, visual updates, to modeling changes. Some are simpler, while others are a big change in the Power BI universe. In this blog post, I will take an in-depth look at some of the updates this month while also referencing other updates. NOTE: It may be helpful to have had some exposure to Power BI before continuing to read this.
The gradient legend can have a cool impact on visuals. It can help clarify the range of data that is being represented. Although it is very similar to conditional formatting, there are slight differences. Instead of showing conditional formatting on the field in the visual, you add another level by showing the range of data of another column regarding the one in the visual. I know this sounds confusing, but I will break it down. For example, say we are looking at the revenue of a product line broken down into the 12 months that make up a fiscal year. It's great that we can see how our revenue is coming in, but what if we wanted to see how many units we were selling compared to the revenue accrued? This is where to use this feature. First, we would click into the Formatting part of the visual, from there we would click into Data colors followed by clicking the (Fx) box next to the default color. This will pop up a box like conditional formatting, but you would specify the field be ‘Units’ since that is what you are wanting to compare. Next, set your color range, and turn the Legend on. This will show your data range. In the visual aid below, you can see that the revenue may be higher in some months, but the number of units sold is higher in a month with less revenue. (Hint: December.)
The gradient legend is only enabled for bar, column and scatter charts which includes the following:
- Stacked bar chart
- Stacked column chart
- Clustered bar chart
- Clustered column chart
- 100% stacked bar chart
- 100% stacked column chart
- Scatter chart
Relative time filter
The relative time filter was released as a preview in April of 2020 but was fully released in July. This filter feature is very powerful because it allows you to drill down to a smaller window of time (Ex: in the last hour). It can be useful for viewing the time and the count of when data is coming in. I find it insightful to look at high levels of data input and why it is coming in at that specific time. This feature is just another thing added on to the standard slicer visual, but you will need to be using it with a field that is measuring time or dates.
Enhancements to Q&A
With the enhancements to the Q&A settings you can easily add, remove, and reorder synonyms to and from the fields and tables you want them associated with. Not only will you have a list of terms associated with a field, but there are also “suggested terms” that you can choose to add to your list of synonyms. The terms that you chose to use will have prioritization over the suggested terms. This means you still use the suggested ones in a Q&A visual, but they will not be recognized immediately. If you choose to turn the “Include in Q&A” feature off, then it will not include the terms related to that field in the Q&A visuals. Another cool feature is that when you rename a field within a visual, that renamed term is added to the suggested terms in the Q&A. For example, if I renamed a field from 'Prod' to 'Product', that renamed term would be added to my suggested terms. There is also now an orange underline for ambiguous terms in Q&A, instead of red underlines for terms that Q&A does not understand. The orange line is indicating the term you are looking for may be used in multiple fields. For example, if you are looking for 'date' but there is a field named 'start_date' and 'end_date' the Q&A will not know which one to choose. This helps by letting you know that you need to be clearer on the field you are looking for.
Azure maps visual
The Azure maps visual is still in preview as of now, in order to enable this you must go to the Options and settings tab under File, click into Options, then click on the Preview Features option and enable the Azure map visual. You will be required to restart the Power BI desktop app then you will see it in your visualizations.
It includes the following visualization layers:
Bubble layer - this can be useful for seeing clustered data
3D bar chart layer - this can be useful for seeing amounts of different data points in different locations
Reference layer - with typical visuals, Power BI only allows one dataset to be connected. But when using maps, it may be in best interest to have other things laid over them. A good example with this is using a GeoJSON file to track boundaries over certain areas to evaluate population densities.
Custom tile layer - this can be useful to overlay weather data from Azure weather services.
Real-time traffic overlay - this is a very cool feature and can allow insight on time estimations depending on density of traffic.
- There is now a general availability for the hierarchical slicer and the ability to further customize slicer headers.
- By default, the title is based off the fields in the slicer
- New financial functions being added to DAX, 49 to be exact!
- Model view is now enabled for the live connection type.
After learning about all these cool new features, I was really intrigued to see them in action. I encourage anyone who found the same reactions to get some sample data and test these things out. As a report builder who is constantly learning new things in the Power BI platform, I am always eager to learn about the new things that Microsoft is bringing to the table. As I have mentioned before I am no expert in Power BI, but by breaking down these updates it really helps me to understand them better.
If anyone would like the source of all this content, I will drop the URL below. I hope this interested some and inspired others.
PS: The video in the post is useful as well for other examples.
Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if there are questions or comments!