Power BI Updates - April 2021

Power BI Updates - April 2021

This quarter has seen a vast range of new features, fixes, and enhancements to Power BI. February saw a focus on security, improving Report capabilities, additional data connectivity options including Snowflake, HIVE and Salesforce as well as a heads-up regarding Internet Explorer 11 and legacy versions of Edge. March and April brought preview features including Model View UI, Power Automate for Power BI, and the announcement of the new Power BI embedded playground.

As always, we love to bring our favourites to you and our customers, making sure our solutions incorporate the best that Power BI has to offer.

Improvements for Reporting

We provided an update of the preview release of DirectQuery for PBI datasets and Azure Analysis services last quarter, however there have been a few updates to the preview release recently. These include:

Deleting DirectQuery connections:

You can now delete DirectQuery connections to Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services from the Data Source settings option. Simply right click on the data source you want to remove and hit ‘delete’.

Calculated Tables:

Calculated Tables are now supported in the February release of Power BI Desktop, but keep in mind the feature is still in preview.


A gaming changing announcement in February saw the public preview of Object Level Security (OLS) for Power BI Premium license holders.  Focused on enterprise grade security across reports and datasets, OLS together with Row-Level Security (RLS) means that model authors can actually secure specific tables or columns from end users.  The end user experience is those particular tables or columns literally do not exist if they do not have the required permission to view it.
Read the full announcement

Search is here

Finally the one that we have been waiting for, the elusive Search Bar! February saw the release of a search bar in the Power BI ribbon, where you can search for anything just as you would in any other Microsoft Office product. The beauty of this much needed enhancement is that Power BI offers suggestions as you type AND search results will update options based on your keyword.
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Power BI Premium Per User is now Available

Last quarter we announcement the public preview launch of Power BI Premium per user licensing model.  The good news is that this is now generally available. The cost of the per user license,  is either $20/user/month for a standalone license, or $10/user/month for users with an existing E5 or Pro license assigned.
Read the full announcement

UI improvements to Model View

Still in preview, but rolling in new updates based on feedback, the new Model View now matches table card header colors with your selected theme. The relationships have a new look where the direction and cardinality has been centralized rather than being spread out across the relationship line, and the option to expand and collapse all cards in you model diagram at once has been added.
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Connector Updates

There have been a number of connector additions and updates this quarter, here are 2 that impact many of the solutions we implement. For a full list of connectors see here.


The Snowflake connector configuration now supports custom roles. You can add custom role names whilst establishing the connection. These roles have query-level granularity as the role becomes part of the “Source” step in each of the generated M queries.

Parquet Files

Power BI Desktop now allows you to connect to Parquet Files (previously you could only connect via dataflows). Simply navigate to ‘Get Data’ to find the option.

Azure Maps Enhancements

Probably the most impressive visual update this quarter, it is now quicker and easier to view and analyse location data. A new control has been added that provide four new options to interact with the data displayed on the map. These include:

  1. Range Selection
  2. Radial Selection
  3. Polygon Selection
  4. Radial and Box Selection

These options are enabled by default, so if you have implemented Azure Maps Visual in any of your Power BI reports, make sure you explore the options.
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Power Automate for Power BI (preview)

This is a huge release for Power BI, announced only a few days ago, the new Power Automate visual allows end users to run an automated flow directly in the context of a Power BI report. Impressively, the executed flow is “data-contextual” meaning the flow inputs are dynamic based on the filters set by the user.

You do need to download the visual from App Source and import to your Power BI report. This then simply becomes a button you can place anywhere on your Power BI page. From the visual itself you then create the desired flow. Microsoft have provided some pre-built templates to get started, but will be adding more in the future.

Once your flow has been defined, it is simply a matter of hitting “apply” to ensure the flow is now connected to the Power BI report. You do need to share / set permissions on which users can interact with the flow for the specified report, and as of now Flows created here cannot be reused / run in the Power Automate web app or anywhere else.
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