Well there sure is a lot of information with regards to BI in the past week, now that PASS has finished, as well as the end of the month, so there are some great Power BI updates as well.

Power BI – Desktop Update Oct 2016

Another month has come to an end, and with that we get a whole host of new features and updates within Power BI, so let’s get into the details which I think are most relevant.

Reports View

As shown in the image above they have really done a great job at modifying the date slicer to make it really easy and simple to filter your data by date.

I have tried it out very quickly and the great thing is that it appears to work on any date column (where the data type is specified as date).

And the amazing thing is that it does not take up a lot of screen real estate space.

As you can see the next option is the ability to very easily change the date range formatting for your charts. So this makes it very quick and easy to put in the specific date ranges for your charts using a date picker. Another thing to note is that you can also manually put in the time if required.

Another feature that I know a lot of people have been asking for is the snap to grid. Personally I have had to nudge the visuals into place in the past, so it is fantastic to see that not only can you snap it to the grid, but you can also see the grid lines. Just note that this is a preview feature so you will have to add it to the Preview features to enable.

With regards to the data labels it is good to see that you now have additional formatting options for the orientation as well as position of the data labels. Once again this is only available in the column, bar and waterfall charts.


The first analytical feature for this month’s release is the ability to Group your data by simply selecting the data in your chart. This has been really well thought out, and they have made it really easy to group data together. What I really like is that not only can you easily group the data, but you can also rename the column, and do it without having to know any DAX. And this group can also then be used within your report as any standard column.

Binning is another great feature that forms part of the grouping and is mostly related around a measure. It gives you the ability to create a bin for your measure. And once again this then becomes a standard column that can then be used within your reports, and what I especially like is that it NO longer is required to be used on the VALUE AXIS, but can be used on the Axis, Legend or Color Saturation!

Now once again this is a feature that a lot of people have been asking for, and in the past I honestly have done this by creating a rank and then filtering using a rank to get the TOPN. But now that they have built this functionality into the filtering makes it really simple, quick and easy to filter for the Top or Bottom amounts.

What I think is the hidden gem here is that it gives you the ability to use a different value for your Top or Bottom amounts. And this is something that I am certain will flow into other parts of the product.

The Include/Exclude capability is going to be really useful as what this does is it gives you the ability to very quickly and easily decide on what information you want to still show.

Data Connectors

As you can see above they have included 3 additional connectors.

For me personally the big one is the OLEDB, which will now mean that there is the capability to connect to a whole range of additional database systems.

Query Editor Improvements

This is another great improvement in terms of being able to use tables as parameters for your “Invoke Function” dialog. As in the past I can recall that you could only do it from Lists (and they did build the capability to transform to lists easily). But with this new and improved feature it will mean that we can then dynamically pass data from a defined table to a function.

Power BI – Features Coming Soon

Below are the details from a screenshot that I have seen from Reza Rad who was at SQL Pass

Power BI – R Visuals without understanding R

This is something that I can personally see starting to gain momentum very quickly. Personally I do not currently know R or how to program in R, but what this now does is it gives me the ability to utilize the work of others which I can then use.

I am going to be looking into this in the near future and I really think it will become invaluable.

You can find the details here: Shape Power BI R visuals, without understanding R

Power BI – Community Blog Highlights

This is a quick mention to always go and view the community blog highlights. There is often some really good blog posts, and a wealth of information.

As well as a quick mention that I also have a community blog post relating to quick tips for getting dynamic row level security working.

You can find the details here: Power BI Community blog highlights for October

Power BI – Stock Chart Custom Visual

Here is another custom visual from MAQ Software, which can be used for Stock Analysis

In order to view this go to the Custom Visuals Gallery here: Power BI Custom Visuals

Power BI – InsightCentr Content Pack

Here is another great content pack for Microsoft Power BI if you are an existing InsightCentr customer. This provides insights into workforce productivity.

You can find more details here: Explore your Insightcentr data with Power BI

Power BI – Webinar 01 Nov – Big data with HDInsight & Datameer

If you are interested or currently looking to understand Bid Data using HDInsight, Datameer and Power BI then this Webinar is for you.

Find the details here: Nov 1 Webinar: Big Data with Power BI, HDInsight, and Datameer

Power BI – Advanced Analytics with Power BI Embedded and R

This blog post from the Microsoft Power BI team will show you how it works and how to integrate a Power BI Embedded report using R and advanced analytics.

I think that as times goes on, there will be more adoption in terms of embedding your Power BI reports into existing applications. And the requirement for advanced analytics will increase as more organizations understand and want to leverage their data investments.

You can find details here: Advanced Analytics with Power BI Embedded and R

Excel – Get & Transform Update for Oct 2016

In this months update for Get & Transform they have included some great features (which have already been implemented in Power BI)

The Query Parameters support is really valuable as it gives you the opportunity to make your data more dynamic, both in letting the user input what they require. As well as using a List of Values, which can also be dynamically created.

Also they have improved the Web Connector, so that you can then view what you are importing before you import it.

And finally the capability to Merge or Append queries. Where the Merge is a join type of query. Whilst the Append is a Union type of query.

You can find the details here: October 2016 updates for Get & Transform in Excel 2016 and the Power Query add-in