Microsoft Power BI | May 2018 Update

Categories: Data & AI Product Updates
Tags: Microsoft Microsoft Power BI

As one of the market's leading business analytics platforms, Microsoft's Power BI is useful for clients looking to create engaging interactive visualisations.

And after a bumper month for updates in April even more changes have been announced this month too. From better custom visualisation options to improved reporting functions, there's a lot to explore in the latest round of Power BI changes.

Here's a round-up of just some of the new features now available.

Customising your visualisations

One of Power BI's major strengths is its custom visualisation capabilities, so seeing updates to these tools is welcome. 

With China now a global economic hothouse, more and more Power BI users need to visualise data with a Chinese focus. May's update release provides a whole suite of new tools for creating custom data graphics covering China, including a gradient-based map fill function for each region as well as more simple switching between the China-wide map and maps covering the 30+ provincial-level administrative areas.

And users who want to present their images in a similar format to sites like Instagram can now do so thanks to the Collage by CloudScope update. As well as offering a more streamlined grid-style view, Power BI users can also choose to reveal a range of relevant nuggets of information such as the number of comments, the name of the author, the permalink and more.

Optimised reporting

Power BI's May update included some changes to the platform's conditional formatting capabilities. It's now possible to format each column by a differing model field, users will be able to pick specific aggregation types. And when it comes to slicing, the new "Advanced" tab on the "Slicer syncing" window will allow your clients to group their slicers in useful, specific ways before syncing.

The May update also offers a range of new data labelling choices within the popular funnel chart feature. Your Power BI clients can now choose from a wider range of display options so that they can locate relevant data more easily, such as the percentage of the previous bar, the true current value or a hybrid of both.

And for an improved user experience, your clients will also now be able to change the stroke width of the lines in their combo chart and line graph visualisations to zero.

Improved data connectivity

One of the handiest Power BI May updates for your clients is likely to be the all-new connector which integrates Power BI with the Common Data Service for Apps, a data management service which works to gather data in a safe way across all of your clients' Microsoft platforms.

With the power to create bespoke sets of fields (or "entities") as well as a range of standard options to choose from too, this new tool represents a real connectivity boost. It can be accessed by heading to the "Get Data" dialog box then clicking the "Online Services" category.

Premium features

Higher-tier users of Power BI will notice lots of new updates in this batch, a development which provides extra selling points for resellers to use in their marketing materials.

Big data users who need to manage enormous datasets will benefit from the incremental refresh feature, which substantially improves the dependability and efficiency of refreshes by only reloading new or edited data points rather than the whole set. The user can pre-define how and when they would like data to be refreshed using the Power BI desktop platform, so there is no risk of unexpectedly long or short refresh periods.

However, it is important to make clear that when the incremental refresh feature has been activated, the user's .pbix file cannot be downloaded.

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