Category : Expertise
Publication Date : 10.03.2022

Power BI end of year release review


Since Microsoft released the Power BI solution for data visualization  and preparation. The company keeps improving the product every month with new features. Those updates ideas are coming whether from the Microsoft teams or directly from the user community with a great system of suggestion and votes: https://ideas.powerbi.com/ideas/

As a Microsoft partner company, we follow and debate about those releases every month. Today we wanted to share with you a bit of our expertise by wrapping up highlights of the last months release. Welcome in our second Power BI seasonal review.


The Top Releases


Insights (September 2021)

This feature is giving the possibility to track KPI’s anomalies within a dashboard. For example, if a determined KPI has a severe drop from one period to the next one, the user can be notified in an “alert” when opening the dashboard. This functionality is not linked to the report configuration. That means that any user can set its own insights and it will not modify the report for other users.

Discover further about this feature here : https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/create-reports/insights


“Calculate” expressions supporting aggregations (September 2021)

Microsoft is giving now the possibility to use aggregations in “Calculate” expressions for a Boolean testing case. This could be highly useful when comparing KPIs to filter a calculated value.

Example: CALCULATE([Total Sales], DimProduct[UnitPrice] > MEDIAN(DimProduct[UnitPrice]))


Power BI available in Microsoft Teams (October 2021)

Shared Power BI reports can now be consulted within Microsoft Team. This is a new step into Microsoft tools synergy. From October 2021 user can share and visualize reports without leaving the application, this increase the experience user friendliness with helping users to be notified faster and enriching the sharing experience.

This feature requires a quick configuration explained here : https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/pre-announcing-automatic-installation-of-the-power-bi-app-for-microsoft-teams/


Hybrid Tables (December 2021)

This feature allows the report creators to update in real time transactional table with a new incremental refresh method. This refreshes only the most recent data read in a direct query mode and store it in the dataset table with the incremental refresh method. This creates a hybrid method to get the freshest data with very good performances.

Discover further about this feature here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/power-bi/connect-data/incremental-refresh-overview


Design Features

Some adjustments had been added this season in the desktop app, here are our highlights:

  • Line charts: We can now add series label in the right or left side of the line. This improves the clarity in case of multiple lines.
  • New format pane: This simplifies the time-consuming formatting activity with a new user-friendly design
  • Page and bookmarks navigators: This feature is also a time saving upgrade. This helps reports creators to set up and manage pages with new built-in functions and automatically synchronized page navigator.
  • Sparkline: We can now add sparklines into tables and matrix charts to quickly analyze trend and pinpoint specific markers on lines like highest/lowest points, negatives ..


Security Features

During the last season, interesting features regarding dataset management had been released, here are our highlights:


Object-Level Security (OLS)  (October 2021):

This feature is now generally available in power BI embedded. This gives the possibility to report creators to hide tables and columns to specific users for security/sensitivity purpose.

Discover more about this functionality here: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/object-level-security-ols-now-available-for-public-preview-in-power-bi-premium/


API for Power BI administrators (September 2021):

A new set of APIs is now available in Power BI. This feature is enabling user access  and permissions discovery. This could be helpful to get an automated and up to date state of the security perimeter in case of  an access management action or an audit process.

Discover more about this functionality here:  https://powerbi.microsoft.com/blog/announcing-admin-apis-to-determine-access-rights-public-preview/


The connectors

This season, in additions to many connectors updates and improvement, Power BI extended the list of its available connectors making it more convenient for developers. Here is a short list of interesting new connectors:

  • Power Automate connector is now generally available
  • Azure Synapse Analytics connector is now in preview
  • Google Sheets connector is now in preview
  • Azure Cosmo DB connector is now in preview


Sources links

September 2021 update: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/power-bi-september-2021-feature-summary/#post-17174-_Toc81908303

October  2021 update https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/power-bi-october-2021-feature-summary/#post-17563-_Toc84518706

November 2021 update: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/power-bi-november-2021-feature-summary/#post-17912-_Toc87473933

December 2021 update: https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/power-bi-december-2021-feature-summary/#post-18168-_Toc89785231