I was fortunate to attend my first ever Business Applications Summit in Seattle.

I had the pleasure of sharing an Airbnb with Matt Allington, Phil Seamark and Miguel Escobar, it was great to spend time with these Power BI Legends. I also did meet a lot of people and got to chat with people in the Microsoft Power BI team, which was something I will always remember.

I also was fortunate to present 2 sessions (Unfortunately Reza and Leila could not make it) at the Business Applications Summit, both sessions went well, and the feedback was positive.

Ok, so enough about me, let me get onto ALL the new features that are planned to be coming to Power BI until October 2018.

One thing I can say is that I am SUPER excited with the new proposed features that are coming, it is most definitely going to make Power BI the go to BI tool going forward.

Along with this it is also growing up, and by that, I mean more enterprise features are coming, which means that it soon will be able to be implemented into a smaller organisation or a fortune 500 company.

Personally, I cannot wait to learn all the new features and start to implement them at customers. One caveat is I am certain that some features might take a bit longer to get into the service or could possibly change.

NOTE: This might be a bit of a longer post, so buckle up, here is the link to where I got a lot of the information: Overview of Business Intelligence October ’18 release

Other Features not mentioned in any of the notes

Below are some of the other features that I did not find in the release notes but there were some demo’s or pictures.

Print to PDF

As you can see above, coming to Power BI will be the ability to print to PDF which will look exactly like your Power BI report.

Display Folders – Multiple selection settings

As you can see above there is the ability to be able to set multiple measures or columns into a Display Folder.

Not only that but you will also be able to complete the settings over multiple columns.

And something not in this picture is the capability to see multiple data source views if you have hundreds of tables to make the data modelling experience easier.

Python Support

As you can see above there is Python Support coming to Power BI!

Personal Bookmarks

As shown above, there will be personal bookmarks coming to Power BI

Power BI Desktop

Below are all the Power BI Desktop upcoming features

Ad-Hoc Data Exploration

What this will be a user who does not have edit access to a report will be able to look at a chart on a different axis or change the chart type which could be more meaningful to the user.

It will be used with an option to choose a report and select “Explore from here”

Aggregations

This is a big change for Power BI where there the underlying data is a really large dataset that is stored in Spark or a SQL Server database. When connecting with DirectQuery you will be able to define aggregations which will cache just the aggregated data into memory into your model.

This will allow to have a dual mode so that if the query can be answered by the aggregated cache that will be used, and if not, it will then query the underlying DirectQuery source.

Composite Models (Available Now)

What Composite Models allow you to do, is to allow you to have data in one Power BI Desktop file where you are getting data from DirectQuery and imported data sources.

This is an amazing feature and I know something that a lot of people have been asking for.

With this you also now by default will have all relationships set to Many:Many.

As with the details it is always suggested to ensure that your DirectQuery source has been tuned and has the capacity to be able to answer the queries from your users to ensure that the users get the super-fast reporting experience.

Currently the Composite Models do not support LiveConnection sources which only relates to SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) Multi-dimensional or Tabular.

Copy data from table and matrix visuals

Coming to Power BI Desktop and the Power BI Service once implemented will be the ability to be to copy data from a matrix or table into another application.

Custom Fonts

You will soon be able to use any fonts that you want in your Power BI reports. All that will be required to work is that the same font will need to be installed on their computer in order for them to see it. If they do not have it installed it will fall back to the default font.

Expand / Collapse in Matrix Visual

As shown below you can see the upcoming option to expand or collapse rows in a matrix visual. There also was the indication that they want to bring more pivot table features from Excel to Power BI.

Expression-based formatting

What Expression based formatting is, is where by using DAX you will be able to format almost anything in your Power BI report. The potential is to use expression-based formatting for the following below and possibly more that I cannot think of

  • Titles of Visuals
  • Line widths of visuals
  • KPIs based colours

From what I did see, there will be an fx button next to almost everything in the visual properties and elsewhere.

Q&A Telemetry Pipeline

This will allow access to the Q&A telemetry to see what the users are using Q&A for, which will allow you to further customize your Q&A Linguistic settings. The data will first be scrubbed for PII data.

Dashboard and Report wallpapers

Coming to both the Power BI Dashboards and reports will be the ability to use wall papers to cover the grey area behind your reports.

Show measures as clickable URLS

As you can see above you will be able to create a link, with a measure so that this can dynamically link to a Power BI Report to any other application which you can access via a URL

Theming over report level and visual container styles

There will be a theming update coming to both report level and visual containers in Power BI. From what I understood it would be similar to the theming that you can currently do in Power Point.

New Power Query Capabilities

There are a whole host of Power Query Updates as detailed below.

Intellisense support for the M formula language

Intellisense will be coming to the advanced editor in Power Query. This is something that I know a lot of people have been asking for. Not only that by Power Query will be coming to Microsoft Flow also.

Smart Data Prep

There are smart data preparation coming to Power Query, with the following initial features below.

  • Data extraction from semi-structured sources like PDF files.
    • This is something a lot of people have been asking for and I have seen it in action and it is awesome, where it can take data out of tables in a PDF and extract it into Power Query.
  • HTML pages.
    • A smarter experience to understand what details you want from an HTML Page.
  • Fuzzy-matching algorithms to rationalize and normalize data based on similarity patterns.
    • This is where it will try and match data based on your columns, to try and guess what the value should be when say the data is miss spelled.
  • Data profiling capabilities.
    • As you can see from the above image, there will be data profiling which will enable you to have a look and see if the data is as expected.
    • An example is if you know that your Customer Number should only be 5 characters long, with the data profiling you will be able to see if it is meeting your criteria.

Power Query Community Website

As with Power BI, there will be a Power Query Website launching later this year.

Certified Custom Connectors

There will be certified custom connectors which will be available to be plugged into Power Query. As part of this process the custom connectors will be certified Currently there are no additional details on how this process will be completed, but no doubt it will explained as time goes on.

Power BI Service

Below are all the updates to the Power BI Service.

Power BI Home

Power BI Home is a new place for users to start their Power BI Journey with the following sections.

  • The Top section will contain the users most important dashboards and reports.
  • The second section will contain their favourite items, as well as most frequently accessed reports and dashboards.
  • Whilst the bottom section will include learning resources.
  • And on the top right-hand side will be a global search where you will be able to search for any item that you have access to in the Power BI Service.

Paginated / SQL Server Reporting Services Reports

As you can see above SSRS or Paginated reports will be coming to the Power BI Service. Not only that but it will also print them out pixel perfect.

Workspaces with Azure AD groups

As you can see above, App Workspaces will be using Azure AD Groups and not dependant on Office 365 groups. You will still be able to add permissions from Office 365 groups, but it will no longer be dependent on Office 365

Data Flows – (Formerly called CDS-A, then Data Pools, now Data Flows)

It started out being called CDS-A, then Data Pools, and now the final name according to the great people in the Microsoft Power BI Team is Data Flows. As previously described this is where you will be able to use Power Query Online to ingest data from anywhere and store them in Entities.

All the data will be stored in an Azure Data Lake Gen2, Pro license getting 10GB per user and Premium will get 100TB per P1 node), which will give you the additional capabilities to be able to let the data scientists in your organisation access the data directly from the Azure Data Lake. You will also be able to bring your own storage within your existing Azure investments.

I think that having the Data Flow will enable organisations to be able to have a single source of truth for their data assets, that can then be leveraged by the entire organisation.

What I do know from attending Miguel Llopis session is that the same runtime that is running in the Power BI Desktop will be running in the Power Query Online in the Data Flows. So that will mean you can use Power Query within Power BI Desktop to get the data in the shape that you want. Then you can go into the Advanced Editor and Copy and paste the data into Power Query Online.

Below is a rough overview of what it looks like

Data Flows Refresh

Not only will you be able to bring data in with data flows, you will also be able to refresh data with incremental refresh which will be a Power BI Premium Feature

Admin APIs

Admin APIs have come to the Power BI Service, which will allow an Admin of the tenant to be able to discover all the artefacts in his Power BI tenant.

This is great for large implementations, because up until now you had to have access to the App Workspace in order to be able to view the data. Now by being an Admin, you will see everything, which is the standard Admin capabilities.

Additional report URL parameter support

Additional report URL parameters will include filters for Date columns, new operators ” < , > , <= , >=” and multiple field values

Commenting in Dashboards and Reports

As shown above there will be the ability to comment on Dashboards and reports.

Not only that but you can include people using the @ which will then send them a notification.

Along with this you can also add comments to a specific visual, which will give great context to comments

Dataset metadata translations

If you have defined translations in the dataset or Analysis Services model, the user will see it in the locale.

Filters for Report Sharing

You will be able to share reports to users with the current filters and slicers in place for when they view the report.

Historical Capacity Metrics

If you have got Power BI Premium capacity, there will be a historical view which will allow you to see what affects performance or refreshes and queries. And see which datasets consume the most memory and make changes or plan accordingly.

Multi-Geo for Compliance

This will be where data must reside in a certain country, where a company operates around the globe. And will ensure that the data can be located in any of the Azure Data Centres, even though the initial Power BI tenant might be located elsewhere.

Not only that but in a future release this can also be used for performance by having the Power BI Premium located closer to the users.

Azure Analysis Services / Analysis Services Tabular

Below are some of the new features coming to SSAS in Azure or On-Premise in Tabular

XMLA endpoint for third-party client connectivity and lifecycle management

By opening the XMLA endpoint for Power BI, any current tool that can connect to SSAS via XMLA will also work with Power BI Desktop. Which means that some of the following tools would work immediately once the XMLA is opened.

  • SQL Server Management Studio
  • BISM
  • Excel

Not only that but you will also be able to use the TOM and TMSL in order to manage and modify configuration settings or items within your Power BI Model.

Application Lifecycle Management

As you can see above there will be the capability to be able to have full Application Lifecycle Management ALM in Power BI Desktop, Azure Analysis Services. This is a great step forward because it gives you the following capabilities

  • Source Control
  • Deployment of specific items
  • Deployments to Dev, Test and Prod
  • Potential to share parts of the data model.

Analysis Services vNext

As shown above this was Christian Wade from the Analysis Services team showing the following potential features coming to Power BI and Analysis Services.

  • Calculation Groups
  • Many-Many relationships
  • Resource Governance
    • Is Available in MDX
    • Query Memory Limitations
    • Rowset Serialization Limits
  • Data Connectivity
    • New Power Query Enterprise Data sources for Spark, Amazon RedShift, IBM DB2, Google BigQuery and Azure KustoDB

On-Premise Data Gateway Updates


There have been a lot of advancements in the On-Premise Data Gateway, with the latest release including Support for Custom Data Connectors in the Enterprise version of the On-Premise Data Gateway.

Below is a list of features coming to the On-Premise Data Gateway

  • Gateway multi-geo support for Power BI Premium
    • With the release of multi Geo Support for Power BI, this will also be enabled in the On-Premise Data Gateway
  • Guarantee high availability of gateways via clustering
    • Better support and visibility for Gateways in a Cluster
  • Improved support for Single Sign On and SAML
  • Improved data source settings experience
    • Here there will be the ability to skip the testing of the connection.
    • Rename data sources.
    • Create multiple data sources with different credentials
  • Tenant level administration of on-premises data gateway
    • This will allow the ability for tenant administrators to manage All On-Premise Data Gateways via the API or GUI
  • Basic traffic load balancing in the on-premises data gateway
    • This will start off with a basic setting to split the traffic requests between Gateways.

15 thoughts on “Review of new Features coming to Power BI by Oct 2018 – From Business Applications Summit”

  1. Great to know, but what is the timeline? It would be interesting to know the timeline and convey to your customers so they are prepared.

    -Ranbeer

    1. Hi Ranbeer, they did indicate that all features should be released by Oct 2018. There was no other time commitment. I would also urge that some timelines might change.

  2. Intellisense for M-Language. Now, that’s big news! (to me) Thank you so much for this excellent write-up.

    1. Yes Rafael, I agree it is big news and will be awesome to have it, it will make creating those custom functions or using the M Language that much easier.

  3. It’s like I was at a different conference – I didn’t see most of this stuff. I guess it came from sessions that clashed with other commitments I had. Lucky you were there and provided this excellent summary!

    1. Thanks Matt, yes there was a lot of sessions and a lot of content to find out about. I cannot wait for all the new features.

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