Exploring Microsoft’s December Power BI update

17 December 2021

Exploring Microsoft’s December Power BI update

December 2021 brings update to Microsoft’s Power BI, introducing new reporting features such as Sparklines, which can give quick trend analysis insights by allowing graphs to be added within tables, exciting changes, and more.

One extremely exciting and potentially game-changing feature is Hybrid Tables. With these tables, Power BI will empower users to get the performance of import mode, while also being able to view real-time data.

Read more about the latest changes and features below.

What’s new

Hybrid Tables in PBI Premium (in Preview)

Summary: Hybrid Tables improve incremental refresh, achieving this by combining data in import mode with new data that is in the warehouse.

Our Thoughts: Previously, there was a decision to be made as to whether performance or having current data, was more important. This feature has the potential to improve both the performance and load time of reports significantly. In doing so, Microsoft allows users to use up to date data to give the best of both worlds.

Sparklines (in Preview)

Summary: A small line chart that shows within a table or matrix

Our thoughts: Previously, if you had a table of data and wanted to see a line graph with trends over time, you would either need to change the visual from a table or have two visuals that you could drill through. This new feature allows a combination of the two, which provides a great alternative to having tens of labels along the axis of a graph which clouds ease of insights. The fact this small graph can be formatted is a big plus, too.

Email of email subscriptions

Summary: Admin APIs to return all email subscriptions created across tenants

Our Thoughts: This is an important feature for governance that should allow admin users to quickly gather information regarding who is set up to receive emails relating to reports. This feature will allow admins to assess the severity of data breaches through subscriptions very quickly.

What’s changed

New Formatting Pane

Summary: Updates to the New Format Pane, released last month

Our thoughts: It’s good to see that Microsoft is listening to feedback regarding features in preview. The update has reduced extra clicks which were required to find settings. Missing settings have also been re-added, including global text size for tables and background settings for scatter chart labels. Changes are being made so quickly give confidence that the new format pane is going to get better and better.

Allow sharing links to include your changes to the report

Summary: Link Sharing now includes an option to “Include my changes”

Our thoughts: Where the ‘Include my changes’ option is selected, changes you have made in read mode (including filters or slicers you have used) are included when you share the report with others. This is a big time saver, as it stops the need for explanations around how you have navigated to data.

Mobile Report Default View

Summary: Allows reports to be viewed in a preferred default orientation

Our Thoughts: While most reports are designed on a desktop in landscape, most people use their phone in portrait.  This feature should give more flexibility for users who want to view reports on the go. The flexibility to use landscape where required is important, as users may still require that functionality.

Additional changes

New Visuals have also been added to Appsource:

  • Data map by dTyp
  • ProcessChampion by Argent Logic
  • Ultimate UpSet Plot by Samuel Gratzl
  • LeapLytics – Traffic Light by LeapLytics GmbH
  • Deneb: Declarative Visualization in Power BI by Daniel Marsh-Patrick
  • Inforiver Standard Matrix / Table by Lumel
  • Icon Pack by TME AG
  • HTML & CSS Viewer by K Team Solutions GmbH

New Connectors have been added as well, along with bug fixes and new features for some existing connectors. These include Azure Data Explorer, FHIR and Starburst Enterprise.

The page class within themes now includes Background and Wallpaper, and themes can now be obtained via API, so that they can be applied to webapps.

“Visualise this view” has been included within Dynamic 365/Model-Driven Power Apps. This creates a PBI report very quickly which can then be tweaked.

Closing comments

December’s release features a few significant improvements, particularly the release of Hybrid Tables within Power BI. This could be a huge change going forward, with a trade-off between performance and up to date data potentially being a thing of the past. It will be very interesting to see how this develops in Preview.

The mobile view change is a nice addition with users having more flexibility with how they consume and access data, and we’re pleased to see feedback being listened to regarding features in preview.

We’re looking forward to working with Sparklines and seeing how much of an impact that can make on data with large numbers of categories.

Want to learn how to solve some of the most common Power BI challenges, or learn our tips and tricks to enhance data visualisations? Why not download our free Power BI eBook here, and sign up for the newsletter to get our take on future releases.

Get In Touch

We’re here to help. For any questions or enquiries you may have, get in touch with us here and one of our industry experts will respond as soon as possible.

Or call us direct on +44 (0) 20 3633 4510