Despite the uncertain start to 2021, the Power BI updates have been coming thick and fast to help businesses handle and harness their data.

With the Government recently announcing its roadmap out of the Covid-19 lockdown, many businesses will be optimistic about the future, as they look to introduce solutions and systems that give them a competitive edge once the restrictions have been lifted.

This includes the implementation of analytics tools like Power BI, so it’s crucial that businesses keep a close eye on the monthly update cycles, familairising themselves with any noteworthy improvements that will allow them to transform information into important insights.

During February, Microsoft announced a number of exciting changes across key areas, including an RGB colour selector and search bar to make feature discovery easier. A range of custom visuals have also been added, allowing users to build visually engaging reports.

Our latest blog takes a closer look at some of the most significant updates that have been introduced in the past month, analysing what impact they will have on our clients.

Improved search bar

Most of the Power BI  updates are introduced in direct response to customer feedback, as Microsoft has built a strong reputation for listening to their users and delivering improvements based on their requirements and needs.

In recent months, some users have found it difficult to quickly locate the commands, files and options they need. To address this, Microsoft has introduced a search bar just like the other Office products, which once clicked, suggests actions based on the current state of your report.

As you type in a keyword, the search results will update to show you related search terms, and users can click the ‘get help’ option to be directed to Microsoft documentation for further support.

Once a visual or field has been selected, special tabs will also show up in the ribbon with buttons that apply to your selection. These special ribbon buttons will also be included in your ribbon search results, allowing you to refine your search, so you can quickly find the relevant information.

This simple yet effective update will make the user experience more efficient, allowing businesses to harness their data and build engaging reports without delays.

Updates to model view

Since its introduction, the model view UI has been extremely popular, with many businesses utilising the feature to get a better view of their reports and visuals.

As with the previous update, there has been a lot of customer feedback on the model view in recent weeks, with Microsoft announcing a range of improvements to address key issues. Firstly, the colours in the table card headers will now match the colours in the report theme to offer better consistency throughout the report.

Meanwhile, new options have been added that allow users to expand and collapse all the table cards in the model diagram at once. This can be done by either right clicking on a table card in the diagram or clicking the ‘more options’ button to access the ‘collapse all’ and ‘expand all’ options.

Finally, Microsoft has made a couple of key performance improvements to enhance the user experience. They have increased the table threshold to 75 tables for the ‘all tables’ view, allowing models with less than that to have all the tables displayed. If a model has more than 75, then a message will appear warning of potential slowdowns should you choose to proceed.

The other performance update will improve the responsiveness of relationships drawn between tables, making it much faster for users to move tables around the diagram.

Shielded HTML Viewer

When it comes to building engaging reports, visuals that allow users to add HTML formatted content to their dashboards are extremely popular, as they offer greater creative freedom.

Whilst HTML formatted content can add significant value to reports, it also forms a potential security risk, which could be a threat to the security of sensitive data. In response to this, Microsoft has created the Shielded HTML Viewer – the first and only HTML Viewer that has been certified by Microsoft.

This feature is based on an ‘allow list’, that only gives permission for HTML tags and attributes included in this list to be interpreted and formatted accordingly. Everything else will be ignored, so that harmful HTML codes are avoided.

All this functionality is available through the standard Power BI interface, so users do not have to learn a new layout. The Shielded HTML Viewer can be downloaded from AppSource, with all features free to use.

Data-driven insights

Although businesses have adapted to new ways of working throughout the pandemic, with remote working becoming an increasingly popular option, there’s no denying that operations have been restricted or impacted by the resulting lockdowns.

Now, with the end in sight, businesses will be keen to hit the ground running once the restrictions have been lifted and services like Power BI will ensure the correct business decisions are made, as backed by data-driven insights.

By having access to timely and accurate information, organisations can strategise accordingly and ensure the post-lockdown era is much more positive than the last 12 months have been.

If you need help finding a Power BI solution that meets the unique requirements of your business, then contact our in-house team of experts for advice.