Power BI’s Latest Features and How to Use Them

April 27, 2021

Post by

Marcus Radue

In this regularly updated blog, Marcus Radue (Solution Architect) highlights key features from his monthly Power BI Office Hours webinar series so you know how to capitalize on Power BI’s latest enhancements to help your organization make the most of data analytics.

Power BI Features (April 2021 Update)

Power Automate for Power BI (preview)

This is an excellent feature release that incorporates more of the Power platform directly within Power BI. If you have built Power Apps and integrated them with your Power BI datasets, now you can integrate the flows you make with Power Automate. Doing so will turn your flows into a button on your report that users can click to trigger the actions you have defined in that flow.

This new visual is only in preview mode right now and needs to be imported from the AppSource store.

Read more about this announcement of this new visualization here.

power bi power automate

Small Multiples Enhancements (preview)

Some additional formatting options have been released in preview for small multiples. It now supports padding controls and is enabled in the combo chart visualization.

power bi small multiples enhancements

New and Improved Shapes

PowerPoint continues to be more integrated into Power BI Desktop. Microsoft has released new shape designs that you can create and use to format your page layout backgrounds within Power BI Desktop.

Invert Access and Continuous Access Sorting

You can now invert your value axis on Power BI line, bar, column, area, and combo chart visuals.

DAX Enhancements: Many-to-Many and IF and SWITCH Function Improvements

CROSSFILTER now supports many-to-many relationships, and there have been performance improvements to IF and SWITCH functions. You may see performance improvements in certain situations when using those DAX functions.

New Visualizations and Connectors

Microsoft Charticulator Visual – Previously, this was a third-party tool that you had to use outside of Power BI Desktop. Now you can download it from the AppSource store and integrate it directly into Power BI Desktop as a custom visual. This tool lets you create custom visualizations that are not in AppSource, are not in your standard visualization menu, and still don’t require any code in the background. You can use Python or R scripts to create custom visuals and import those into your reports, but the Charticulator visual gives you a drag and drop interface to create them.

  • Cycle Plot
  • Graphomate Charts
  • accoPLANNING
  • LegendMap
  • Financial Reporting Matrix – Profitbase
  • Merged Bar Chart – Nova Silva
  • Bloomberg Data connector
  • SoftOne BI connector
  • Text/CSV By Example (generally available)
  • Automatic Table Detection from Excel files (generally available)
  • Automatic Table Detection from JSON files (generally available)

Easy Report Sharing via Links

If you are using other Microsoft 365 applications, then you may be familiar with the sharing options for files where you can select the security and type of link you want to create. That functionality is now available for Power BI Desktop files. Previously, you could only grant direct access to your reports. Now reports can be shared via links in addition to direct access sharing.

Deployment Pipelines

There are some new capabilities available for deployment pipelines – specifically around paginated reports and data protection labels. You can read more about the new deployment pipeline support here.

Enhancements to Sensitivity Labels

Microsoft has updated where sensitivity labels are included in Power BI. Now you can manage those labels and pull that metadata out using the Power BI admin API. Embedded sensitivity labels in Power BI are now generally available. You can now secure the full data journey from Azure to Office. Also included is an Admin API to Set and Remove labels in Power BI.

You can read about the full April feature release here.

Power BI Features (March 2021 Update)

Advanced Data Selection in Azure Maps Visual

There is a new selection control option available for the Azure maps visual. Report consumers will now have four ways to interact with data on the map.

  • Range selection
  • Radial
  • Polygon
  • Radial and box

X axis constant line for line charts

There is now an option to add a X axis constant line in the analytics pane. This option will only show for continuous type data.

DAX function updates

There is a new DAX function IF.EAGER(). This function behaves similar to the IF() function but may have a difference performance based on how it is evaluated in the performance engine.

Calculate filters are now easier to use. You can now include multiple filter conditions from the same table without needing to explicitly write two or more filter statements.

New visualizations and connectors

  • SMART KPI List by Nova Silva
  • Comparison Chart
  • Combo Bar PRO Visual
  • Kerberos-based SSO for Denodo

Windows 7 depreciation

Power BI desktop has stopped supporting Windows 7 as of January 31st, 2021. It is now only supported with Windows 8.1 or newer.

External tools menu is generally available

The external tools integration is now generally available. Read here for a list of fully supported operations.

You can read about the full March feature release here.

Power BI Features (February 2021 Update)

DirectQuery and Creating Composite Models for Power BI Datasets and Azure Analysis Services (preview)

You can now delete your DirectQuery connections to Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services. You can do this by navigating to the Data Source settings in the Transform data button on your home ribbon.

Search Bar

There is now a global search bar available in Power BI desktop. This search bar adds common functionality seen in other O365 applications and includes suggested actions and recent files in the dropdown menu.

power bi search bar results

Color Picker

The color picker has been updated to include RGB values in addition to HEX values when choosing colors.

New Visualizations and Connectors

  • Shielded HTML Viewer by Nova Silva
  • Zebra BI Tables (version 4.5)
  • Zebra BI Charts (version 4.5)
  • ValQ 2.0 Released with Connected and Collaborative Planning Features
  • Drill Down Combo PRO by ZoomCharts
  • New Teams Analytics Connector
  • Snowflake: Support for Custom Roles
  • Parquet Files: Connector Available in Power BI Desktop
  • Hive LLAP: Support for Windows Authentication
  • Salesforce: API Update
  • SAP HANA and BW: New Documentation

You can read about the full February feature release here.

Power BI Features (January 2021 Update)

There was not a Power BI desktop release for January.

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