This quarter of Power BI Updates has introduced a number of features released to General Availability including the highly anticipated Canvas Zoom, data point rectangle select, and the new format pane.
May 2022 saw the preview release of several key reporting features, as well as announcing the deprecation of two services, including the ability to have a featured dashboard as your default landing page and the Dashboard Performance Inspector. June 2022 rolled in a swag of connector updates for the likes of Databricks, Snowflake, Dremio and Datamarts, and saw in the introduction of composite models on SQL Server Analysis Services.
As always, we love to bring our favorites to you and our customers, making sure our solutions incorporate the best that Power BI has to offer.
The ability to create composite models (Power BI Datasets to Azure Analysis Services) has been around since 2020 (in preview), however the new DirectQuery for Power BI Datasets has extended to SQL Server 2022 Analysis Services to provide an incredibly flexible capability for report authors to leverage data both from their enterprise semantic model and combine with external data such as excel spreadsheets, publicly available datasets and more.
This functionality is currently in public preview mode, and only available with SQL Server 2022 and the May release of Power BI Desktop. Being in preview, you will have to enable the feature in Power BI. Select the DirectQuery for Power BI datasets and Analysis Services checkbox under Options – Preview Features.
The latest feature introduced to the Power BI Mobile App sounds like a futuristic sci-fi novel or a name for an indie rock band, but it is far from imaginary, and very much available now (in public preview anyway).
Data in Space uses augmented reality to create spatial anchors in the real world and attached Power BI data to them. Yes, a bit like chasing Pikachu in Pokemon Go and being able to see KPIs, in real time whilst inside a store, warehouse or office.
An incredible initiative, in partnership with the Azure Spatial Anchors team, Data in Space allows you to connect your business data with physical locations. Underpinned by spatial anchors technology the app can understand a space, mark specific spaces of interest and then remember those points in the future. Once done, the app can then search a particular space to pick up any point of interest (anchors) that have been marked.
Microsoft provides a great real-world example of how Data in Space works:
“Think about a facility management scenario, where you, as a building manager, can pin reports showing the status of various areas in the building as collected from multiple sensors and data sources, such as air quality, temperature, floor occupancy, etc. Later, these reports can be discovered by the building attendant or by the building operations staff when visiting that area, simply by using their Power BI Mobile app.”
The feature needs to enabled by your Power BI Administrator and requires a little bit of configuration, the Data in Space experience for users is controlled by admin and currently supports 2 roles, the ability to “Pin in Space” (whereby users can create and save anchors with Power BI Data) or “Scan Space” (bit like a report consumer, this role simply provides the ability to search and discover – much like the building attendant mentioned in the example above).
What do you get when you refresh a refresh? An enhanced refresh that’s what (I couldn’t resist). June 2022 saw the general availability announcement of “Enhanced refresh with Power BI REST API”, which was formally known as asynchronous refresh (which sounds a lot drier and a lot less exciting).
The feature has been in public preview for a while and is a huge improvement on the standard refresh REST API in Power BI, having removed the need for synchronous client connections to perform refresh and powered up with enterprise-grade refresh capabilities.
The following enhanced refresh management capabilities are below (as listed by Microsoft):
- Cancel an in-progress refresh operation.
- Check the status of historical, current, and pending refreshes.
- Refresh individual tables and individual partitions.
- Batched commits with restarts so long refreshes do not need to start from the beginning in cases of transient failure.
- Application of incremental refresh policy.
- Control the Analysis Services refresh type for other fine-grained options.
Highly recommended for larger model data refresh operations, instructions on how to get started with the Enhanced Refresh with Power BI REST API are here.
It has arrived and available to download today, the latest version of Power BI Report Server has introduced accessibility improvements as well as several UX focused enhancements allowing you to interact with report data with greater ease and flexibility, including canvas zoom, rectangle selection, multi-row card selection and dynamic format strings.
Mandatory label policy has also been introduced enabling you to ensure sensitivity labels are applied to new content when created or uploaded to Power BI. Report authors will be forced to apply a label to newly created content, and once applied the label cannot be removed, a great feature to further enforce enterprise level governance across all Power BI assets created.
Latest self-service capability available in a ever growing momentum to democratize enterprise analytics with Power BI
The 2022 Microsoft Build event held in May brought some incredible announcements further cementing Microsoft at the forefront of enabling analytics capabilities for everyone, enterprise wide. Datamarts in Power BI arrived with a bang, a Power BI Premium capability that allows business analysts to build a data mart over any data warehouse, or multiple data sources that can be managed and governed centrally.
Offering a “no-code” experience means you do not have to have advanced developer skills to write complex ETL pipelines to load the data into a database, integrated Power BI development means the datamart automatically generates a “self-tuning” Power BI dataset that is ready to build reports directly into the Power BI service, without requiring Power BI Desktop and BI models can be build and measure defined all from within the data mart UI using DAX. As the datamart is fully integrated with Power BI it is treated as any other artifact and can be managed and governed accordingly.
The most exciting announcement, however, has to be integration with PowerPoint. An absolute epic feature that literally enables live and interactive Power BI reports to be embedded into PowerPoint presentations. No more cutting and pasting screen shots, shrinking images to within an inch of their life until figures become undecipherable or producing customer presentations or even training decks that are out of date once you insert a screen shot of a report that contains time and date metrics. Mic Drop.