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New Top 10 Power BI Features

Power BI is a business analytics service offered by Microsoft. With it, you can have interactive visualizations with business intelligence capabilities—a user can create graphs, reports, dashboards without having to depend on IT staff and database admins. Today we’ll take a look at the top 10 new features Microsoft introduced back in January.

1. Show and hide pages

When you still want users to have access to some parts of a report but not others, you may want to hide certain pages (like ones that are in-progress). Since January, this feature has been available for Power BI—all you have to do is right click on the page and select “hide.”


You’ll still see the pages yourself, but they will look different when they’re hidden. And, if you go onto reading mode, you won’t be able to see them at all.

2. Control data label background color for Cartesian and maps visuals

If you want to do Cartesian and map visuals, you can now edit their background color and data labels. Found under the Data Labels card in the formatting page, these options improve previous issues with readability, such as when your data label runs over the data point.


3. Increase area used for axis labels in charts

Previously, if the axis labels were cut off in a chart, your only option was to increase the chart’s size. Well, no longer! While it still isn’t great when your page’s space is limited, a new slider is available to increase the percentage of the charts used by the axis labels.



4. Bar/column padding control

Another axis formatting option that lets you control the inner padding between bars. With this, inner padding can now go up to 50% of the bar’s width, of all the way down to zero for a histogram effect.



5. Show dates as a hierarchy (preview)

Up until now, date hierarchy has been automatically created when using Power BI’s internal date table, and it wasn’t shown in the field list. With the January update, users can now see the entire hierarchy in the field list. Just turn on the preview under File > Options and Settings > Options > Preview features.


Previously, you needed to place the entire hierarchy into the visual and then remove the unwanted levels. Now, not only is the hierarchy generation more transparent, you can also use individual fields from the hierarchy in your visuals by drag and drop, or by checking the specific level you’re interested in.

6. Add an anchor date for relative date slicer

If you want to start further back in time than today when using the relative date slicer, you can now set an anchor date in the formatting pane. Once it’s set, the slicer will be evaluated relative to that specific date.


7. Top N selection in Q&A

The natural language engine has been improved to support ask top-n type questions such as “What are my top 3 products by sales,” “top manufacturer by NSAT.” Bottom also works, so make sure to try both out.

8. Correlation coefficient quick measure

Suggested by fellow user Daniil Maslyuk in the quick measures gallery, this new feature adds a common statistical measure and will calculate the Pearson correlation coefficient between two measures in a certain category.

9. Support for Azure Active Directory authentication for Azure SQL Database & Data Warehouse connectors

Leveraging the Azure Active Directory authentication so as to connect Azure services within Power BI has been one of the most frequent customer requests for the Azure SQL Database and Data Warehouse connectors. Microsoft has now introduced a new “Microsoft Account” option within the Credentials dialog for the Azure SQL Database and Data Warehouse connectors, which lets users to authenticate using their AAD accounts.

Support for this new authentication type in the Power BI service is not yet available, but Microsoft promises it’ll come within a few weeks.



10. Advanced language settings for the Windows store app

Rather than defaulting to your Windows display language, you can now specify the display language of the Windows Store app. This is especially useful for global companies with consumers all over the world who want to read and create reports in languages other than the one the report was created in.

To access these new options, go to the Options dialog, and select the Regional Settings tab. Changing the application language will now ignore the default display language for Windows and switch to whichever language you choose. This will decouple the model language from the application language for any new reports but won’t affect the model language for existing reports. Note that changing these settings will require a system restart.




And that’s all for the January updates for Power BI. If there’s something you’d like Microsoft to implement, you can vote on other features, and as always, if you need Power BI consultations, don’t hesitate to contact us!