18 February 2022
Microsoft’s February Power BI update in review
There’s a bumper release from Microsoft this month, containing exciting features and innovations that we’ve been eagerly waiting for, including:
- Mobile formatting options
- Dynamic M Query Parameter support for additional data sources
- Deployment pipeline enhancements
- Improvements when downloading PBIX files
To learn more about this month’s update, read on.
Mobile formatting options (Preview)
Summary: Microsoft has released a preview feature – “Modify visuals setting for mobile layout” (File > Options and settings > Options > Preview features > Modify visuals settings for mobile layout).
This allows you to modify visuals specifically when authoring a mobile report.
We have all struggled with mobile report formatting.
Simple things, like changing the text size of a visual, or applying a workaround by creating extra visuals in the web layout and hiding them so they can surreptitiously be used in a mobile report, can be time-consuming and frustrating.
This is now a thing of the past!
Clicking on a visual in the mobile layout will give you both Visual and General Visualisation options where you can tweak those visualisations easily and flexibly.
However, there is a caveat. Although we will be able to author customer mobile reports in the February release of Power BI Desktop, we won’t be able to publish the reports to the service. As a result, your report consumers won’t be able to view the updated layout in the service or app until the official full release.
This update brings a wide range of exciting new features to Power BI’s sensitivity labels, including:
Summary: With this release, when a sensitivity label is applied to a dataset or a report in the Power BI service, the label will trickle down and be applied to content that is built from that dataset or report.
Default label policies in Power BI (Generally available)
Summary: Default label policies enable you to define a baseline level of protection to Power BI Files and artefacts in the Power BI service.
This is applied when a new file is created on the Power BI desktop or with a new dataset or report in the Power BI service.
Mandatory label policy
Summary: This feature enables organisations to ensure that Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) sensitivity labels will be applied to the new content when it’s created in, or uploaded, to Power BI.
When a user tries to save a PBIX file in Desktop or an artefact in the service, that doesn’t have a sensitivity label applied, they will be prompted to choose a label before the item can be saved. In addition, a label cannot be removed when a mandatory label policy exists.
Sensitivity labels first appeared in the December 2020 release of Power BI desktop and alongside an Azure Information Protection (AIP) P1 or Premium P2 License and either a Power BI Pro or Premium Per User license, were generally available in the Power BI Service.
A sensitivity label is used to restrict content when shared outside of Power BI.
One of the limitations of this is that downstream reports and dashboards wouldn’t automatically apply datasets or reports sensitivity labels. This is no longer the case.
With the enhancing of all of these sensitivity label features, Microsoft have improved the strength and ease of implementation of these data protection features.
New Format Pane (Preview)
Summary: The February release will give us all a new format pane.
Don’t worry, you can turn this off by going to File > Options and settings > Options > Preview Features > New format pane.
The new format pane improvements are…
- Outline settings for matrix and table have been re-added, previously missing.
- The ability to toggle axis title independent of the axis has been re-added, previously missing.
- The ability to add shade area to combo charts has been re-added, previously missing.
- Ability to customize marker shape by series for scatter charts has been re-added, previously missing.
- Minor reordering of the field wells within the Build pane to match the order of the new format pane cards for the pie chart, doughnut chart, and scatter chart.
Our thoughts: I’ve often downloaded a new version of the Power BI desktop and have been baffled by an option that has previously been available now being AWOL. I’m happy to see a few of these options making a timely return to the format pane.
Multi-row card selection
Summary: Rows can now be selected in the multi-row card visual to highlight and filter other visuals in a report. Unselected rows will dim to help identify what has been selected and a ctrl or shift-click allows multiple selections.
Our thoughts: Multi-row cards have been behind the curve, and a feature that we have enjoyed with other visual options for some time. It’s a nice addition to the visual and will strengthen the user experience in reports.
Dynamic M Query Parameters now support SQL Server and other data sources (Preview)
New connectors include:
- Amazon OpenSearch Service
- OpenSearch Project
- Digital Construction Works Insights
- Azure Databricks
- BQE Core
- Starburst Enterprise
Our thoughts: The ease at which you can connect to disparate data sources has always been a strength of Power BI, these latest additions and updates only strengthen the offering and capability.
Power BI Goals
Summary: Updates to the Teams notification integration, the ability to add multiple owners to a goal, and the flexibility to create scorecards in My Workspace.
Our thoughts: One for the premium users, Teams integration helps users to stay up to date about the goals they are responsible for without having to leave Teams. Also, a user will be notified when someone assigns them a goal, mentions you in a note, or when a goal status is updated.
Up to five users can now be goal owners, and this will also work with Teams notifications and Power Automate integrations.
Personal scorecards can also be created in My Workspace, making it easier to keep personal scorecards and share them when they are ready – providing you have a Pro license.
Our team of specialists are always passionate about bringing the very latest innovations to your Power BI reports and dashboards. Learn more about how we can help transform your reports today.
Deployment pipeline enhancements
- Azure DevOps extension (Preview)- automate your deployments and pipeline creation using Tasks in your Azure pipeline.
- Multiple pipelines working together– sync the connections between items managed in different pipelines.
- Dataflows GA and support for linked entities
Our thoughts: Linking deployments to an Azure DevOps extension to allow automation, and allowing multiple pipelines to work together, has been a highly anticipated feature. This should help deployment and provide a more seamless process.
Download .pbix improvements
Summary: Previously, you were not able to download a .pbix file for reports when the report connected to a single dataset and that dataset was configured for large models, incremental refresh, or if it had been modified by using the XMLA endpoint.
Our thoughts: Starting with this release, that limitation has been removed for reports that are created in Power BI Desktop and published to the Power BI Service – if the report connects in live mode to the dataset that has the properties described as limitations before this release.
Note that downloading a .pbix for such a dataset itself is not supported, nor can a report be downloaded if it was created on the Power BI service and connects to such a dataset.
Dark mode available in the Power BI windows app
Summary: Support has now been added for dark mode, meaning all screens and dialogues are presented in a dark theme.
Our thoughts: Who doesn’t like a dark mode!
There have also been improvements to the Power BI Windows app with a fresh new look.
In terms of Embedded Analytics; support for Power BI datasets as a data source for embedded paginated reports have been enabled, and the Power BI visuals category list in AppSource have been updated:
- R visuals
- Change over time
February’s release covers a wide expanse of areas in both the Power BI desktop and the service. We particularly like the ability to format mobile reports and will be excited when this feature is released into the service.
For more of our Power BI insights, as well as reflections on past monthly updates, click here.