Power BI Desktop update – feature of the month (Aug 19)

Here’s a summary of the updates Microsoft released for Power BI Desktop this month. Full details on these updates can be found on the Power BI blog.


The feature we’ve picked out as the highlight for this month is Grouping visualsWatch the below video to see this feature in action; The video will automatically start in the correct place.

It should be pointed out (as mentioned in the video) that the visual grouping only supports the resizing of visuals at this stage. So the benefits of grouping means that multiple visuals can be resized at the same time preserving their relative sizes. This is useful, for example, if you have a series of Slicers or Cards in your report and need to make room for an extra one.

Another benefit of grouping is that some formatting properties can be change en-masse. However, and a little disappointingly, this appears to be limited to just changing backgrounds and some general settings (size and position) for now – regardless of whether the group is all of the same visual type or not. So the statement in the previous paragraph holds true, visual grouping just supports resizing for now.

With the limitations in mind, the visual grouping is of limited value for now; but this hopefully paves the way for it to be quickly extended to support all formatting options and setting visual interactions at a group level.

The ongoing addition of conditional formatting options is great, but we do have a concern that some reports could become very conditional formatting heavy if the report developer gets carried away. Lets remember the star of the show is the data itself, conditional formatting should only draw attention to the data, not to its self.

We thought the custom visual’s covered this month were pretty weak. It seems some things didn’t work properly in the demo and some of the visuals (only going by the video) are difficult to use and read. Maybe some of them met a very particular requirement and use case. I don’t see a particularly wide and universal need for these particular visuals at this time, but its always good to have options and I may think differently in a week or two.

We’ve not used Power BI with SAP much yet, but we’re hoping the ongoing connectivity updates between Power BI and SAP HANA are proving useful. If you are using these we’d love to hear how they’re working out for you.

Please do post any questions or comments you have below, we’d love to hear from you

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