Taking a look at the latest Power BI Features of November 2021

26 November 2021

Taking a look at the latest Power BI Features of November 2021

We’re passionate about all things analytics and BI here at DataShapa, and love having our finger on the pulse of the data landscape. With this in mind, we thought that we’d share our thoughts on the improvements, tools, and innovations being introduced to Microsoft Power BI in the latest round of its monthly updates. Read on to learn more:

What’s new: sort legend

The legend, and therefore the order that objects appear in a chart, can now be sorted. This will be very useful when trying to order elements of a chart based on something other than alphabetical order. Previously, this was not possible without database and cube development to sort the field as required, so it’s great to see this feature being implemented.

New Format Pane (In Preview)

This new format pane (currently in preview) promises to be easier to use, and more accessible to understand. While there’s limited additional functionality being introduced in this change, these improvements will certainly make Power BI easier to navigate. We’re pleased to see the following revisions being implemented:

  • Search function
  • All font settings on one line
  • No double scrollbars anymore
  • Customise series replaced with ‘Apply Settings to’ option
  • Option to apply formatting across all visuals or just the specific one selected
  • Reset to default option

Page and Bookmark Navigators

With the new page and bookmark features, it’s now much easier to navigate between the pages or bookmarks of a report, saving a significant amount of time for users while reducing the error rate for close-to-zero. What’s more, with many formatting options, navigating buttons can be customised for a much richer experience.

Buttons are also synced with the pages/bookmarks, meaning that:

  • Button names change when a page or bookmark is renamed
  • The order of buttons is the same as the order of the pages/bookmarks
  • Selected Page/bookmark is the highlighted button
  • Deleting pages or bookmarks also deletes the associated button to prevent confusion

New scorecard visualisation

With new scorecard visuals, it’s now clearer than ever to get a snapshot of performance against a goal and make adjustments on the go. We like how the scorecards created can be accessed by all users in the organisation, and the visualisation works well in conjunction with Power Automate.

We’re really interested in using these visuals and are already exploring how they can be used for creating a standardised set of KPIs, which are reported in the same way each time for consistent and reliable reporting.

Automatic Page Refresh

Power BI Reports using Analysis Services or Direct Query as the data source can now be set up with Automatic Page Refresh. This can be set to refresh as often as every 30 minutes.

This will be incredibly useful for operational reporting where KPIs need to be monitored more frequently. The possibilities for this are endless, and we can imagine a wide range of opportunities to use this feature, such as on-screen in an ops room automatically updating every 30 mins. We look forward to seeing this new feature in action.

What’s changed: improvements on existing functionality

Advanced Text Formatting

Long overdue, this update has brought a range of options for advanced text formatting to your reports, including the options to make text bold, italic, or underlined, as well as changing the font size and family as well.

With these features introduced, we hope to see reports being as customisable, tailored to individual purposes, and more engaging than ever before – making for great reports!

Textbox additions

Text boxes now allow for the inclusion of bullet points, which we expect to be useful when annotating a report with static information – such as a list of the data sources used to compile the report or a list of the filters being applied.

Enhancements to Power BI Goals

Power BI Goals have been drastically improved with this new update, from the ability to be restricted to certain users or groups of users to allowing the reordering or moving of goals to different ‘families.’ This last improvement may be useful when the goals set within a company change often in terms of priority.

With other enhancements which are more minor, we can see this update being very powerful when certain actions should always be taken if a goal is reached or missed. What’s more, it removes the manual element of analysing whether an action should be taken and then performing that action.

Updates to Power BI on mobile devices

Mobile devices have seen some small improvements to their capabilities.

We can expect greater accessibility and use of Power BI on mobile devices since reports can now be opened via scanning a QR code (with the option for pre-defined parameters to be applied on opening). Filtering on Android and IOS phones has also been made simpler and easier to apply.

There are three new visualisations in the App Store:

  • Dual-axis Scatter Plot
  • Growth Rate Chart
  • Process Mining with Power BI

As well as more in-built connectors (all in preview):

  • Azure Synapse Analytics
  • Google Sheets
  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • Delta Sharing

Our closing thoughts

This new update has given users more control over how they navigate, present, and access their reports, while simultaneously doing more to increase use cases with new features such as automatic page refreshes and QR access.

We’re excited to start making use of these new features, as well as seeing how the Power BI community pushes them to the next level.

We look forward to seeing how the next monthly update continues to bring more advancements and innovations to the Power BI platform.

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