For those who use Power BI Desktop, January 2018 looks set to be one of the most momentous months in a long time, with plenty of exciting updates scheduled. Primarily focusing on improving popular features like automatic date hierarchy, data label and axis formatting, and the relative date slicer, they’re likely to significantly enhance the user experience for the better.
Let’s take a look at some of the many changes we can expect in a little more detail.
1. Show and hide pages
Let’s start with this new reporting feature. Starting this month, Microsoft BI users are about to find themselves with the ability to hide as many pages as they desire, by right-clicking their name and selecting ‘hide’. Giving you the opportunity to keep these areas out of view to other users, this is a clever add-on with plenty of utility.
2. Control data label background colour for Cartesian and maps visuals
Another way that usability will be enhanced is by the new power to decide the background colour of your data labels in Cartesian and map visuals. Allowing for stylistic changes and improved readability, this option can be easily found in the formatting pane.
3. Increase area used for axis labels in charts
Before this January update, you may have found that axis labels were sometimes cut off in your charts, meaning you had to increase the overall size to solve this issue. With report page space limited, this was far from ideal, so you’ll be glad to hear of this next feature - a maximum size control for the axis which is being added to the formatting section. This will allow you to devote a greater percentage of your chart to your axis labels so that readability is much improved.
4. Bar/column padding control
You will have the additional ability to control the inner padding between bars thanks to this latest slew of updates, so that you can now make this up to 50% of the overall width, or alternatively reduce it to zero for a histogram effect.
5. Show dates as a hierarchy
Microsoft will also give you the chance to see the date hierarchy in the field list, provided you switch on the preview feature switch found in the ‘File’ tab. This means that you’ll be able to use individual fields from the hierarchy in visuals by checking the particular level you’re interested in.
6. Add an anchor date for relative date slicer
Do you want to use the relative date slicer to see further back in time than the current date? You can now do this too, by simply setting an anchor date.
7. Top N selection in Q&A
December saw the addition of Q&A to the Power BI Desktop, and in a bid to improve this natural language engine, you can now ask a selection of top-n questions, relating to subjects such as your top three products according to sales.
8. Correlation coefficient quick measure
On to analytics, and the addition of a quick measure which immediately calculates the Pearson correlation between measures within a specific category to show you how related the two are – an undoubtedly useful statistical tool to have at your disposal.
PowerApps is another neat new feature. Making it easier to build automated workflows, its custom visuals are able to embed this experience straight into your report, so that you can not only quickly identify insights in your data, but take action on them too.
Want to display your hierarchical data in an easy to interpret structure? Then the TreeViz custom visual is the solution. Expandable and collapsible at every level, it gives you the power to choose how many children data points you wish for it to show, as well as group smaller ones into a single entity.
11. Funnel with Source by MAQ Software
If you desire to track a metric of interest over various stages, then you may also find this update useful. Displaying the channel through which a lead enters the funnel, as well as its resultant journey through the stages of the sales cycle, it gives you the ability to filter information in a new and useful way.
12. Advanced language settings for the Windows store app
For those who work in global industries, there is this update. Allowing individuals from all over the world to consume and add to reports in multiple languages besides the default that the document was created in, it’s a much-needed improvement that’s likely to benefit innumerable businesses around the world.