Microsoft’s April Power BI update: What you need to know

20 April 2022

Microsoft’s April Power BI update: What you need to know

Microsoft have released update 2.104.702.0 to Power BI, from April 2022.

The changes we are most excited about this month include improvements to the Bookmark Navigator, the full release of Dynamic M Queries, and the introduction of Power BI and Outlook Integration. These changes stand to make major improvements to both user experience and report clarity.

What’s new

Error bars for Bar Charts

Summary: Error bars have now been introduced to both Clustered Column and Bar charts in Preview

Our thoughts: The introduction of error bars to line charts last month was a major milestone for displaying uncertainty in native Power BI visuals. It’s clear that Microsoft have are keen to roll out this feature to as many charts as possible and it’s great to now have them available for Column and Bar charts. These updates reflect a noticeable improvement in the statistical analysis potential within Power BI Reports.

Bookmark navigator now shows the last selected bookmark per group

Summary: Each bookmark group will no longer reset other bookmark groups on the same page

Our thoughts: The bookmark navigator provides a huge improvement in report navigation, providing end-users with clear buttons for manoeuvring between filters. It also equips report developers with a streamlined process for menu creation and maintenance.

In the newest Power BI update, it has become even easier for end-users to navigate multiple bookmark groups on the same page.

Previously, if multiple bookmarks were selected only the most recently selected bookmark would have been highlighted. This meant it was easy to lose track of what filters were active when the bookmarks represented filters on different dimensions. Now, the bookmarks won’t be reset, providing much clearer navigation.

Before: Selecting a bookmark from the second row would deselect the bookmark in the first row, even though they don’t filter on the same dimension (the first row being region, the second row being time).

Now: Power BI interprets that the two bookmarks are filtering on different dimensions and leaves both selected for visual clarity and ease of use.

Dynamic M Query Parameters Generally Available

Summary: Dynamic M Query Parameters are no longer a preview feature and are freely available

Our Thoughts: Dynamic M Parameters allow report readers to pass values back to the ETL stage within Power BI, when working with large datasets this can have huge performance implications. Rather than querying the cube or database for large amounts of data and then letting report readers filter the data on the report page.

Instead, report readers can now fine-tune the query and only pull a much smaller dataset each time. Unfortunately, Dynamic M Parameters come with added security risks if the parameters are not properly managed, and they currently don’t work with every type of filter. However, as this feature continues to be developed the ability to convert a report filter into a native query represents a major step for large datasets.

Power BI in Outlook

Summary: Integrating reports into emails has been confirmed to be in the Microsoft pipeline

Our Thoughts: At the end of March, the Power BI team at Microsoft opened up Power BI in Outlook to their Targeted Release and Office Insiders beta testing program – continuing their mission to empower every individual, team, and organisation to seamlessly infuse data into their work. After the introduction of Power BI to Teams, Microsoft is aiming to find even more ways to keep people up to date with their data without having to switch to or from the browser. There’s hope that seamless integration of dynamic Power BI content into emails could soon be a reality.

What’s changed

Modern Visual Tooltips update

Summary: Tooltips now support drill actions for matrix, line, and area charts

Our thoughts: Drilling down in tooltips is an intuitive way to view more data in less time. However, this wasn’t available previously in matrix, line or area charts. The addition of these charts helps get this useful feature into the hands of even more of our clients.

Format Pane Updates

Summary: The new Formatting Pane will have an “expand all sub-categories” option in the May release

Our Thoughts: It is great to see Microsoft and the Power BI team listening to our feedback before the general release of the new Formatting Pane. As we’ve been saying for the past few months, we’ve enjoyed the visual update to the Formatting Pane. It represents Microsoft’s continued efforts to keep Power BI looking modern and fresh. However, it’s great to see them reflecting on that feedback to improve their updates.

Power BI Goals improvements

Summary: Microsoft have introduced bulk management of goals, including editing due dates and owners – as well as push notifications on mobile for mentions and goal assignments.

Our thoughts: Improvements to the “Goals” user experience will hopefully drive more interest in this small but useful facet of Power BI. Slimming down reports to the most important metrics and graphs, and then assigning goals based on these metrics can help managers gauge progress throughout the year.

Additional changes

New Visuals have been added to Appsource:

  • Animator for Power BI
    • Inovista limited has introduced the possibility to animate any SVG image file using values from Power BI, such as displaying the movement of a logo from one side of the report to the other as a value approaches a goal.
  • Data Label Placement
    • com continue to release new charts and small quality of life changes to native charts, including this update to provide custom data label placements to bar charts.
  • Drill Down TimeSeries PRO
    • ZoomCharts have introduced an even more granular and dynamic timeline chart in the form of Drill Down TimeSeries, including dynamic and static thresholds for setting targets, and the ability to drill down to the millisecond level.
  • PowerGantt Chart
    • Nova Silva improves on the basic Gantt chart styling with hierarchy, editable milestones and dynamic zoom sliding to improve the user experience.

New Connectors have been added, along with bug fixes and new features for some existing connectors. These include: Autodesk Construction Cloud, Digital Construction Works Insights, and Dremio/ Dremio Cloud.

Recently Microsoft introduced support for Windows 10 and 11 High Contrast themes, improving accessibility to those with low vision.

Closing comments

The changes for April introduce significant improvements for report navigation and dynamic queries. With these new features in mind, it will be interesting to see the enhanced UX in action and explore the potential for completely new report designs.

The updates to Goals will hopefully improve the user experience and help make Goals a more viable tool for our clients.

As Microsoft responds to the feedback surrounding the new formatting pane, it will be interesting to see what other visual changes will be made to the Power BI layout.

To learn more about all things Power BI, why not browse our complete collection of thoughts and advice?

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