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Highlights of Power BI October Update

by | Oct 31, 2020 | News

The main announcement in the Power BI community this week was the October 2020 update. The new update is all about visuals and updates to existing visuals. Let’s take a closer look at some of the new features this month.

Canvas watermarks

Microsoft has always focused on UX design, trying to make Power BI as user-friendly as possible. In the October update there are now on-canvas watermarks to help new users quickly learn. The watermarks show how to get data, populate the fields pane, and start using visuals.

If users don’t have their own data to load yet, they can try a sample dataset from the canvas watermark. This is a really helpful feature, as oftentimes, first-timers have little idea what a proper dataset should even look like. With the watermark sample dataset tutorial, one can start building visuals within the first 10 minutes of using Power BI.

Personalized visuals in October update

Earlier this year, Microsoft showed a new personalize visuals feature. The feature allows users to customize and tweak visuals as they want in the reading view. Starting this month, the feature is now generally available and includes:

  • Drag and drop fields within the same visual property,
  • First-time coach marks to help new users,
  • “Don’t summarize” option removes the default aggregation option, showing the raw values in a column,
  • Enable/disable setting at page-level. This allows to turn on or off the feature at the page level.

Automatic table detection from Excel and JSON

The final cool feature I’d like to highlight is the table detection from Excel files. Remember you had to go back to Excel and format data as tables before loading it into Power BI? Otherwise, you had to do a lot of transformations in Power Query to prepare data for further analysis.

From now on, the Excel connector will automatically identify sections of each spreadsheet and extract them into a table, showing them under suggested tables in the navigator.

The new feature also flattens JSON files into a table. Before you had to flatten lists manually.

With all these new updates taking place, Microsoft is staking its claim as one of the clear leaders in the big data and analytics field.

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