In a week there have been a whole host of updates and changes within the Microsoft BI space. So let’s get to it.

Power Pivot & DAX in Power BI

This is related to my blog past that I created earlier this week (Power Pivot and DAX in Power BI). And it was amazing to see that later on in the week there was a Power BI Designer update which now also allows DAX calculations as well as a whole host of other changes.

The thing that I want to highlight in terms of my blog post. Is that once you have created your Power Pivot Model, and then created a Power View report in Excel, everything that you can do in Excel, will not be available to you when you upload your Excel workbook into Power Pivot. So this will give you some additional functionality which is currently not available by default in Power BI.

Below is a screenshot of the dashboard that I created using Power Pivot and Excel.

SharePoint 2016

Microsoft last week also released some information with regards to SharePoint 2016 and what we can expect. The major take away that I got from this blog post from Microsoft was that I was looking for any new features with regards to BI. And there was a little glimmer of hope, where they said that they were looking to build a hybrid approach, so that companies could leverage the best of both. They did not go into too much detail, as it is still a long way off their release date. But to me it does look promising in terms of having some of their amazing work that they have done in the cloud space (Power BI), put back into the on premise space.

You can read their blog post here: SharePoint Server 2016 update

Power BI AS Connector Update

Last week Friday, Microsoft also released an update for the Power BI AS Connector. It was great to see that they added some additional features.

Starting with the Automated checks to ensure that your account can connect to the Power BI Service. This will ensure that once you have resolved all the errors, you will then be able to successfully connect to Power BI.

Support for Network Proxy, which is great as a lot of companies have network proxies in place for various reasons. And now you can still connect to Power BI via your network proxy.

Notification when a new Power BI AS Connector is available. Which I think is really great and a feature that I see in some of Microsoft’s other products (Power Query). I find it great, so that I do not have to go and make a reminder to go and look to see if there is a new version, it will just notify me that there is.

There is now support for all languages, which is a good thing. As not everyone has their native language in English.

They have also resolved a whole stack of bugs and diagnostics. The one that I really liked is that it will now let you know if your password has expired. Meaning that you cannot connect to the Power BI Service. This is great, because in the past I have had services running where the password for the domain account expired. And it took at times a lengthy amount of time to actually find the cause of the issue!

You can read the blog post from Microsoft here: What’s new in the April release of the Analysis Services Connector?

Power BI Designer Preview Update

I have to say that this is a major update in terms of the offering for the Power BI Designer.

I am not going to go into detail for all the updates, but just highlight the ones that I think are game changers.

Initial Support for DAX Measures

As per my blog post at the top, I could see that they had already provisioned Power BI to be able to seamlessly work with DAX measures. And now it is available as part of the Power BI Designer. This is really great and something that a lot of customers and users have been asking for.

This will enable people to create great reports and dashboards, because they can now create their custom DAX measures which will also improve the reporting experience.

As part of the support for DAX Measures they have also included the following:

  • Formula bar, so that you can now create your DAX Measures in the formula bar, with the intelli-sense and using Multiple lines
  • Comments, this allows you to put comments into your DAX Measures, which is great because if you come back at a later point, at least you can have some idea of what you were doing. As well as if other people are going to be working on your data, they can have some comments to guide them in terms of what you were doing with the particual DAX Measure.
  • Saving Incomplete Measures, this is another great feature, because there have been loads of times when I have either been chatting to someone, or you want to go and validate some data before adding it to your DAX measure. And in the past it would either error, or you would have to cut it out, remove the DAX Measure and then come back and add it in again. This is really useful.

Data Types, formatting, rename and delete in the Report View

I have bundled all these updates into one here, because they all relate to working within the Report View.

What this means that if you want to change a data type, or the formatting, renaming a column or measure, or even delete the column or measure, you can now do this directly in the report view.

I see this as a great feature. As once again when working in Power Pivot, you always have to open Power Pivot if not open, go back in, make the change to your column or measure, then go back into your sheet, which will reflect the update and then continue on working. As you can just see from my typing out what would need to be done how much time that takes.

Instead now in Power BI Designer you can just right click, make your change and you are done! Such a time saver as well as great functionality.

You can read about all the other features and updates here: 16 New Updates to the Power BI Designer Preview

Power BI Content Packs

Today the Power BI Team also announced and released to additional content packs for Power BI.

I think that these content packs are really a smart move from Microsoft. It is a great starting point, because often there is so much new data, that to try and understand where to start or what to look for can be quite daunting. So Power BI gives you a launching pad to start from.

The two additional content packs that got release today are below:

Monitor and explore your Microsoft Dynamics Marketing data with Power BI

Stream sensor data to Power BI with Temboo

I want to quickly highlight that with Temboo, if you have any IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) this allows you to go and upload it directly into Power BI. And the data can be uploaded in real-time. Which then means that your reports and dashboards will also update in real-time. To me there are so many sensors as well as people putting these types of devices into their own homes, that this is a great feature.

Go and click on the video to see what they are doing. Really powerful stuff.

That’s it for this week! Looking forward to see what is going to be coming out next week! Stay tuned.