As we approach the festive period, what better way to celebrate the occasion than with another Power BI update cycle.
If you’re new to the blog, then Microsoft’s monthly update cycles are always a major talking point for us, as we inspect and analyse the exciting, programme-improving updates that have been introduced in direct response to customer feedback.
Power BI is one of the programmes that benefits from a monthly round of updates, as Microsoft looks to address the main challenges its userbase is currently facing.
Covering Reporting, Analytics, Modelling, Custom Visuals, Data Connectivity and Data Preparation, December’s updates include six new improvements to reporting features within the programme.
Described as a huge month for accessibility in the official Microsoft blog, Power BI now supports screen readers, keyboard navigation, and high contrast for both report consumption and creation, further improving the overall user experience.
Reporting – Smart guides for aligning objects
For those of you who have a keen eye for detail and find satisfaction in creating tidy-looking reports, this first key update is for you. When moving objects on a report, you will now see smart alignment guides to help you align everything on that page.
These guides will appear whenever you drag or resize an object and will snap objects into an aligned position when moving two different items towards each other. These report guides may not be for everyone, and Microsoft has also given users the option to turn them off in the Report settings page of the Options dialogue.
This new update should eliminate any unnecessary formatting headaches when it comes to report creation, allowing you to pinpoint the exact location of objects on your page.
Reporting – Fields list accessibility support
As mentioned in the introduction, December’s updates include a range of significant improvements in terms of accessibility, with the fields list benefitting from additional support features.
Now fully accessible to users, the fields list pane can now be navigated using just a keyboard and screen reader, utilising the context menu to add new fields to the report page. There are a range of keyboard shortcuts that can be used in the field list, which you can see in the image provided.
Power BI has now made all panes fully accessible, while adding new options to the context menu. This will now make it easier for users to add the field to the report page, filter buckets and the drillthrough bucket, improving the overall efficiency of the programme.
Modelling – DAX formula bar updates
The DAX formula bar has benefited from several updates this month, making it much easier for users to handle DAX. The first is the introduction of a zoom function for the formula bar, allowing users to enlarge the font, which is perfect when presenting the DAX to a large group. This can be achieved using either ctrl +/- keys or the ctrl + mouse wheel.
The second update enables you to use a much larger view of the DAX formula bar, expanding the DAX editor to take up the full height of the Power BI desktop, instead of the 11 static lines that were used previously.
This is another update that addresses usability challenges and has been introduced to improve the overall Power BI experience.
Custom Visuals – Blpm: Interactive directed flow graph
One of the main benefits of Power BI is the ability to seamlessly create visually appealing reports in a way that harnesses important data effectively. Each month, a host of new custom visuals are introduced to Power BI, and we always try to cover at least one of these within our blog
For December, it’s the addition of Blpm: Interactive directed flow graph visual created by Mohammad Reza Harati Nik. This visual will allow you to better understand the process model of the data, especially for event logs, and can be downloaded for Power BI from AppSource.
Looking towards 2019…
As another year draws to a close, now is a great opportunity to review your existing technology and look for new ways to improve your service offering in time for the arrival of 2019. Creating visually appealing reports can help you discover business-improving insights that will deliver a competitive advantage, and programmes like Power BI and Microsoft Teams can help you unlock these new opportunities.
Throughout 2018, Microsoft have demonstrated a commitment to its users, constantly looking for ways to update and improve their existing programmes. The changes that are implemented are in direct response to customer feedback, allowing users to report problems and receive support without unnecessary delays.
If you’re already looking towards the new year with aspirations to improve your existing technology, then contact our team of specialists and begin the planning process early.
On that note, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at Circyl!