Power BI Desktop update – feature of the month (Jul 18)

Here’s a summary of the updates Microsoft released for Power BI in July 2018. Full details on this months updates can be found on the Power BI blog.


The feature we’ve picked out as the highlight for this month is the Distribution factor insights. Watch the below video to see this feature in action, the video will automatically start and end in the relevant places.

This feature complements and sits alongside (underneath actually) the Explain the decrease/increase feature available to us on column and bar chart based visuals that have a date on their category axis. The Distribution factor insights feature though works with either date or non-date values on the category axis.

These two features are great as they uncover insights that as a report developer or analyst we may never have found, or only found after exploring the data for some time. However, there is one important thing to note here.

As with a few other Power BI  features, the Distribution factor insights feature (and the Explain the decrease/increase feature) will only work in Power BI Desktop where the Power BI data set and report are part of the same PBIX file. Once published to the service though this doesn’t matter, both features will work regardless of whether the data set and report were published as one file or two separate files.

We’ve also found that these features don’t work with Direct Query – either in Power BI Desktop or the Service. This again is true of a few Power BI features.

Other mentions:

We’re personally also very pleased to see support for visual container formatting in JSON themes – thanks to the theming updates. With smart theme’s linked to report templates, report development time and effort can be significantly reduced. We’ve already incorporated visual container formatting into our themes and report templates – and we’re very happy about that as are our customers.

We’re also very happy to see the formatting pane improvements. As report authors is great having so much control over how our reports look and work, but the way the vast formatting options were presented before this update was not great. It so much easier to use now.

With regards to Composite models, its important to note:

  1. All joins across different queries within the Composite model will be Many to Many
  2. Composite models are not supported by the PBI Service right now, these can only be run in Power BI Desktop
  3. Composite models can only connect to tablular sources, not multi-dimensional sources

Do you have any thoughts or opinions on this? If you do we’d love to hear from you.

We hope you found this useful and/or interesting. If so please like, share or comment.

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