Review of new Features coming to Power BI by Oct 2018 – From Business Applications Summit
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.
As you can see above there is Python Support coming to Power BI!
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”
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.
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.
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.
- 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 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
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
- Is Available in MDX
- Query Memory Limitations
- Rowset Serialization Limits
- 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.