Power BI Desktop February 2019 Feature Summary

The February update for Power BI Desktop has a preview of our new Key Influencers visual, which lets you perform key drivers analysis over your data with just a few clicks. We also have some major updates for Q&A with the addition of auto-generated questions and the ability to ask Insights related questions. Our partners and community have added a lot of new connectors and custom visuals this month as well. Lastly, to round things out, we have some formatting and visual improvements this month.

Desktop Download button

Here’s the complete list of February updates:

Reporting

Analytics

Custom visuals

Data connectivity

Other

For a summary of the major updates, you can watch the following video:

Reporting

Updates to the new filter pane (preview)

More filter pane formatting

We are adding even more formatting options to our updated filtering experience preview that we released this past November. This month we added title text size, header text size, and font family to the Filter pane card.

The Filter cards card in the formatting pane also has new options: font + icon color, text size, font family, and input box color.

Accessibility improvements for the new filtering experience

You can now navigate through the new filter restatement experience in the visual header with a keyboard and screen reader. When the focus is on the filter icon in the visual header, you can use the Space key to open the flyout and tab through the various filters applied.

From there you can the ESC key to close the filter restatement flyout and move focus back to the header.

You can also navigate through the new filter pane with the same keyboard and screen reader support you had in the old filter pane.

Watch the following video to learn more about the filter pane improvements:

Cross-highlight on a single point in line charts

You can now cross-highlight on a single point in the line chart to filter not only on the category but also the individual date. When you click on the point, that individual point will show a marker indicating which point is the source of highlighting. If your visual is very dense, we will select the closest point to your click to use as the source.

With this change the line chart now behaviors exactly the same as a stacked column chart in terms of interactivity. You can continue to use the legend when you filter just on the categorical value.

Watch the following video to learn more about cross-highlighting on line charts:

Word wrap on titles

We have a new formatting option for visual titles this month: word wrap!

If you have titles that are currently being truncated…

You can now turn on the word wrap option in the title card…

And your title will now show on two or more lines.

This was another feature built by one of our interns last summer. JohnCarlo worked on this feature and we’re happy to have shipped some of his great work!

Watch the following video to learn more about title word wrap:

Update default visual interaction to cross-filter

If you want to quick change all your visuals to cross-filter each other instead of cross-highlight, you no longer need to manually change all your visuals one by one using the Edit visual interactions feature. Now all you need to do is going to the Options dialog and check the new option under current file report settings: Change default visual interaction from cross highlighting to cross-filtering.

This will make the visual interaction cross-filter by default. You can still manually update visuals if you just a few to cross-highlight instead. This will also not change any visual interactions you have already manually set.

Watch the following video to learn more about updating visual interactions:

Rounded corners for visual borders

Another new formatting option this month is the ability to round the corners of your borders.

To use this option, go to the Border card in the formatting pane, and adjust the radius from 0 to the desired roundness.

Watch the following video to learn more about rounded borders:

Analytics

Key Influencers visual (preview)

We are previewing the first AI Visualization this month – Key Influencers. AI Visualizations use machine learning behind the scenes to reason over your data and surface insights in a very natural way. Once you pick a KPI you want to analyze, the Key Influencers visualization figures out what matters the most in driving your metric as well as finds interesting segments for you to investigate.

Once you turn on the preview feature through the Options dialog, you can start by adding the visual from the visualizations pane.

From there you can add your fields to the Analyze and Explain by buckets in the field well. In the Analyze bucket, you should put the column that you are interested in finding drivers for. The Explain by bucket is for the different variables you want to analyze by. For example, I want to know what drives Net Satisfaction so I put that in the Analyze bucket, and I put several fields that may influence that, such as Manufacturer and Color, in the Explain by bucket.

Once you add fields into both buckets, the visual will automatically analyze the data and show you the interesting results. The visual will default to showing you the Key influencers view. Here you can change the value you want to analyze and explore the various influencers. For example, I selected 7 as the NSAT value I want to analyze in the dropdown, and I can see that the biggest driver of NSATs of 7 is that the Manufacturer is Litware, Inc.

You can click through each influencer on the left side of the visual and see the results visualized on the right. You can also use the “Only show values that are influencers” checkbox on the bottom right to filter the visual if the field you are looking at has a lot of categories that aren’t significant.

The second view of the visual is Top segments. This view lets you see different segments of data points that fall into the topic you are analyzing. In my case it will show me segments of products that are more likely to have a NSAT of 7. In my case, I have two segments.

If you click on a segment, you can see the details of the segment including the number of data points in that segment, what percentage of the segment has the value of interest and key influencers for that segment. In the case of Segment 1, I have found that it is made up of Economy products coming from Litware, Inc. It turns out 9.5% of them have an NSAT of 7 which is 8 percentage points higher than the average product in my dataset. Furthermore, 3% of my total data has those characteristics.

You can also use the Learn more about this segment option to run insights over the segment.

When this visual is part of your report, your consumers will be able to play with all these interactions but won’t be able to change the fields used for the analysis.

To learn more about this visual, including current limitations, read our documentation.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Key influencers visual:

Insights questions in Q&A

You can now ask Q&A Insights related questions, such as “Explain the change of sales between 2012 and 2013” and get the same kind of insights you get through our Analyze option in the context menu.

Auto-generated suggested questions for Q&A explorer

The Q&A Explorer is now auto-populated with suggested questions. This is really useful if you want some ideas of the types of questions to ask Q&A or you don’t want to add specific suggested questions for your report consumers. Of course, you can still add your own suggested questions for your users if you want to.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Q&A improvements:

Improved Python & R script editor

Our Python and R script editors now use the same script editor that our DAX formula bar uses. This means you get the same great features such as intellisense, line numbers, and syntax highlighting.

Custom visuals

Additional purchases for custom visuals

Until recently, AppSource offered only Power BI visuals that had no cost associated with them. In order to promote visuals containing advanced features and support a funding model for their development, we’re excited to announce that Power BI custom visuals with additional purchases is now available in AppSource!

A visual with additional purchases is marked with a price tag of ‘Additional purchase may be required.’ These custom visuals are free to download, but they offer optional in-app purchases to unlock advanced features.

Read the entire announcement blog for more details.

The first set of in-app purchase (IAP) visuals were created by ZoomCharts and are already available for download from AppSource today. They’ve built out these these visuals based on feedback from users after launching ZoomCharts for Microsoft Power BI last year. Below you’ll find details on ZoomCharts’ Advanced Donut, Time Series, Network and Combo visuals, which provide a full spectrum of powerful customization options with a free 30-day trial.

Advanced Donut Visual

ZoomCharts’ Advanced Donut chart is designed for exploring multi-level data in depth and across your level of interest. This visual has intuitive navigation that allows you to interact with the chart on any device – desktop or mobile. Additionally each interaction with the chart is accompanied by a smooth animation, so your report looks visually appealing and stands out.

Some features of this visual include:

  • Adjustable chart types – Select between pie, donut and gauge chart types for better data representation.
  • Automatic “others” grouping – Define the number of slices you need, and the rest will be grouped into “others.” This way you’ll highlight the most important information. 
  • Multi-level drill-down – Touch or click the slice of your interest and drill down to the next level to easily navigate your data.
  • Up to 9 drill-down levels – Add up to 9 different categories and drill down for an in-depth analysis within a single chart.
  • Customizable labels – Configure inside/outside label content and appearance of the labels to suit your needs.
  • Legend configuration – Customize the appearance and placement of the legend according to your needs and preferences.

Download this visual from AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Advanced Donut Visual:

Advanced Combo Visual

ZoomCharts Advanced Combo Visual is designed for in-depth exploration of complex category-based data. This visual has intuitive navigation that allows you to interact with the chart on any device – desktop or mobile and smooth animations to makes your report not only visually pleasing, but also stand out from others.

Some features of this visual include:

  • Adjustable chart types – Choose from column, line or area and customize the appearance for each individual series.
  • Zoom-in/Zoom-out – Dynamically change size of the columns by dragging chart to any side or using pinch gesture.
  • Up to 12 different series – Combine up to 12 series with unlimited categories to fully explore your data with a single chart.
  • Fully customizable – Customize types, colors, labels, fonts all and other aspects of the chart.
  • Legend configuration – Customize placement and appearance of the legend.
  • Stacks and clusters – On top of the fact that you can adjust the chart type for any of the 12 series, you can also stack and cluster them by setting additional properties, which allows you to create truly unique combination charts for your reports.

Check out this custom visual on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Advanced Combo Visual:

Advanced TimeSeries Visual

Explore time-based data with the ZoomCharts Advanced TimeSeries Visual. Each interaction with the chart is accompanied with a smooth animation to make your report stand out from the others. This visual also has an extensive set of customization options to create a report that can been tailored to the needs of your organization.

This visual has many features, including:

  • Adjustable chart types – Choose from column, line or area and customize the appearance for each individual series. Combine as you like – more than 150 variations possible.
  • Time unit aggregation – When data is aggregated on the visual’s side, you have multiple options as to how to aggregate data at larger units and display it on the chart. Starting from milliseconds and up to decades.
  • Up to 12 different series – Combine up to 12 series with unlimited categories to fully explore your data with a single chart.
  • Time unit drill-down/drill-up – Interact with any part of the chart to drill-down to desired time span.
  • Predefined time spans – Interact with any part of the chart to drill-down to desired time span.
  • Fully customizable – Customize chart types, colors, labels, fonts and all other aspects of the chart for each series independently.
  • Legend configuration – Customize placement and appearance of the legend.

This visual can be found on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Advanced TimeSeries Visual:

Advanced Network Visual

ZoomCharts’ Advanced Network Visual enables you to explore and filter your data using a network layout. You can interact with your visual on any device – desktop or mobile – by using the intuitive navigation.

This visual has many features, including:

  • Customizable vertices/nodes – Customize color, radius, labels, size, image and shape of your vertices.
  • Customizable edges/links – Edges can be customized to have the color, type, decorations, thickness and data-driven labels.
  • Images support – Enliven your reports with images for the vertices that need to be emphasized.
  • Up to 9 categories – Add up to 9 categories of vertices for an in-depth exploration of your data.
  • Customizable labels – Configure inside and outside label content and appearance.
  • Legend configuration – Legend can be shown or hidden and positioned on top or bottom, right or left.

This visual can be downloaded from AppSource.

Each of these four custom visuals have a newly added info button in the upper right corner of the chart, which provides many useful links and information about the visual. You can start the trial now here, check out a gallery with downloadable samples, and read the documentation with descriptions on how to get started, how to customize visuals and more.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Advanced Network Visualization:

3AG Systems – Line chart with absolute variance

The Line Chart with Absolute Variance custom visual by 3AG Systems takes two series and automatically calculates the absolute variance between them. It plots the two series in a line chart and shows absolute variance on top of the line for each category.

This visual has a lot of customization options including inversing the colors for red and green, adjusting values to thousands (K), millions (M), and billions (B), drilling-down on hierarchical data, and more.

You can use this visual to compare “Actual vs. Planned”, “Actual vs. Previous Year”, “Forecast vs. Planned”, and “Forecast vs. Previous Year”.

Check out this custom visual on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the 3AG Systems – Line chart with absolute variance visual:

Summary Table

The Summary Table custom visual by Fredrik Hedenström is useful for creating income statement reports. It lets you create a summary table where each row can have custom styling.

Try out this custom visual on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Summary Table:

KPImg

The KPImg visual by Aritz Francoy shows a KPI as a percentage from a value over a target. You can also visualize this with a time series, which will be shown as an area chart under the percentage. The visual also lets you set an image to show if you are over or under a target percentage.

This visual can be found on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the KPImg:

Ultimate KPI Card

The Ultimate KPI Card custom visual by Klaus Birringer shows a value, its variance to a reference value and its variance to a second reference value. The variance can be show in both absolute numbers and in percentages along with an arrow and color indicator. Can be used on Dashboards or for example as Reporting Portal Entry, as well on mobile device

Make sure to try this visual out on AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Ultimate KPI Card:

Violin Plot

The violin plot custom visual by Daniel Marsh-Patrick combines a box plot and a kernel density plot into one visual.

A box plot lets you see basic distribution information about your data, such as median, mean, range and quartiles, but doesn’t show you how your data looks throughout its range. If you have a multimodal distribution (multiple peaks) or some confusion as to where things are clustered, then it’s not easy to figure this out.

By adding a kernel density plot, you can see the variations in your data across its distribution. It works like a histogram, but uses kernel smoothing to provide a smoother curve where noise might otherwise be present.

Features include:

  • Split and color by categories
  • 4 different kernels
  • Sampling resolution
  • Estimated/manual KDE bandwidth
  • Customizable box plot

Try out this custom visual by downloading it from AppSource.

Watch the following video to learn more about the Violin Plot:

Data connectivity

We’re happy to announce that we’ve seen great success since the launch of our Certified Connector program in October. In November and December, we added Guidanz’ BI Connector for OBIEE, MarkLogic, and Kronos’ Workforce Dimensions, in addition to bringing the Exasol connector to GA. In February, we’re happy to announce that we are adding five net new connectors, as well as taking the Denodo and Dremio connectors to GA. We’re happy to be able to bring these partner developed and maintained connectors to the community and couldn’t have done it without the fantastic investment and support from our partners and community. Below is a summary of each new connector for this month.

Microsoft Graph Security

The Microsoft Graph Security connector for Power BI, along with a sample dashboard and template, is now available to enable you to bring rich insights into your reporting solutions and get a holistic view of security and risk across your enterprise. The connector reduces the time and resources required to integrate multiple data sources, simplifying the creation of reports across multiple security solutions. Learn about the API for further details on integrating with the Microsoft Graph Security API.

Guidanz’ BI Connector for OBIEE

BI Connector for OBIEE helps organizations to transition from traditional BI platforms to modern visualization tools. With BI Connector, users can shorten time to analysis, increase ROI from BI investments, and enhance data governance. Guidanz’ BI Connector allows for the staging of data from OBIEE for visualization in Power BI.

MarkLogic

MarkLogic is a database designed for NoSQL speed and scale, without sacrificing the enterprise features required to run mission-critical, operational applications. Using a multi-model approach, MarkLogic provides unprecedented flexibility to integrate and store all of your most critical data, and then view that data as documents, as a graph, or as relational data.

Kronos Workforce Dimensions

Powered by the intelligent Kronos D5 platform, Workforce Dimensions offers a breakthrough employee experience and unprecedented levels of operational insight into managing your workforce.

SurveyMonkey

Every day, 20 million questions are answered using the SurveyMonkey platform. There is more demand for what they do than ever before, and that’s helping organizations measure, benchmark, and act on opinions by using their People Powered Data survey platform. Together with Microsoft Power BI, joint customers can use important feedback to make critical decisions that transform their businesses.

Qubole Presto

Qubole offers Presto-as-a-service on Microsoft Azure and AWS to handle ad hoc queries across petabytes of data. Presto is a distributed ANSI SQL engine used for processing big data ad hoc queries at large scale and speed. Qubole’s Presto connector for Power BI allows users to run fast interactive analytics on federated data sources. This can include data in a data lake, relational databases such as SQL server, MySQL, and Postgres, NoSQL databases such as Cosmos DB, MongoDB, and Cassandra, and real-time data streaming applications such as Kafka. Using Qubole’s connector, Power BI users can now select tables across any of these catalogs and create and execute queries across these different data sources for reporting, data exploration, and ad hoc analytics. Please see this blog for an overview of the solution along with a sample use case.

Quick Base

Quick Base empowers people of all backgrounds to create solutions to their business challenges by making it easy to manage data and automate processes. With Quick Base, custom applications that address your unique business needs can be built in no time, helping you and your colleagues accomplish more than ever.

Sagra Emigo

Emigo supports sales organizations and field teams management. It automates all daily activities of field professionals. Inventory data, orders, answers from surveys or all sorts of other digital forms are available for managers and other teams within organization, through the Biqsens Power BI app as well as through Emigo BI Connector for Power BI Desktop.

Other

Improved Live connect & Direct Query error messages

We now have a friendlier error message when there is an error with Live connect or Direct Query connection when loading a model. The friendly message is followed by a more technical message from the provider. This message may help you debug the issue easier on your side, and if you contact support, the message details will help the support team find the issue quicker as well.

For example, here’s a sample message if there’s a network issue and we fail to connect to your Direct Query server.

That’s all for this month! We hope that you enjoy these updates and all the updates of the past year. Please continue sending us your feedback and don’t forget to vote for other features that you’d like to see in the Power BI Desktop. For any preview features, you can always give us your feedback in our active community. You can also download the .pbix file I used, and if you’re looking for a similar design for your reports, I was using the Microsoft layout from PowerBI.Tips.

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