Power BI improvements for October

by | Oct 29, 2019

In keeping with the monthly momentum seen throughout 2019, Power BI has implemented a host of exciting new changes during October.

Looking to strengthen its position as an industry leader, these update cycles are introduced in direct response to customer feedback, with features added to enhance the overall user experience.

In the past month, updates have covered reporting, analytics, visualisations, data connectivity, data preparation and template apps, including the addition of query diagnostics, which shows you what queries are currently running behind the scenes.

Real-time reporting has also been improved this month, with the introduction of a new automatic page refresh feature, allowing users to trigger regular refreshes for their DirectQuery-based report.

As always, we have taken a closer look at some of October’s most significant changes, analysing the likely impact these will have on our clients.

Analytics – New Q&A visual

Described as a complete revamp for Q&A, Microsoft has brought Natural Language Generation (NLG) to the forefront of reporting with this new visual.

Giving businesses the ability to offer the full Q&A experience to end-users, this visual can improve discoverability for report consumers, as it isn’t hidden behind an extra click.

Users can add the visual to their report by clicking the Q&A icon on the visualisation pane, which will display it alongside an input box for readers to type their questions and receive suggestions.

Above the visual result, there is an info icon that will display the restatement if you hover over it, confirming what the Q&A result is currently showing.

It is also possible to use bookmarks to save different Q&A questions for end-users and the visual will automatically pick up your applied theme next time it’s opened.

Data preparation – Query diagnostics

This powerful feature will allow users to determine what tasks the Mashup Engine is performing during the authoring time, helping you understand what sort of queries are currently being emitted.

By spotting potential slowdowns and uncovering what kind of background events are taking place, the new diagnostics tool will help users to identify and fix issues, allowing operations to continue running smoothly.

Users can start diagnostics by entering the Power Query Editor and selecting the ‘Tools’ pane, where an option to ‘Start Diagnostics’ will be located. Once started, Power Query will begin tracing any evaluations that have been caused.

Currently, the feature will present two different diagnostic views – summarised and detailed. While the basic view gives you an immediate insight into where time is being spent, the detailed view is much deeper and is more suited for serious debugging issues.

This is only the first version of the feature, but Microsoft has expressed their intention to extend and develop the tool in the future.

Reporting – Automatic page refresh for DirectQuery

When monitoring critical events with Power BI, it’s crucial that users are presented with the most up-to-date information, so that accurate decisions can be made quickly.

This means refreshing the page and recalculating the results based on the new data that’s been added, an action that can now be achieved with minimal impact on daily operations.

The automatic page refresh tool allows you to set the refresh interval of visuals in your report when using a DirectQuery source, offering a near real-time experience that means users will always have access to the latest version.

Once it has been switched on in the preview options dialogue, users will see a page refresh card in the formatting pane for the page, where they can set the duration.

Assuming your DirectQuery source can handle it, you can set the refresh time as frequently as every second, giving users access to updated information around the clock.

Harness your data with ease…

While collecting and storing data is helpful, it’s important to convert this information into insights that will help your business grow.

By creating engaging reports that allow users to digest information easily, you can support the wider development of your organisation, unlocking a wealth of new opportunities in the process.

Power BI can help you access these opportunities, streamlining data management and analysis throughout the business and helping you spot emerging trends before they become outdated.

If you’d to experience the true potential of Power BI, contact our team and find a solution that meets your unique requirements.