Power BI Desktop update – feature of the month (Sept 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 the Color and text classes in themesWatch the below video to see this feature in action; The video will automatically start in the correct place.

This feature will be a bit deep, technical and dry for some, but its an important update for anyone who’s using JSON themes to make their report development quicker and more consistent.

Currently within a theme, we need to create some JSON for each individual visualisation within a “card” that represents that visualisation. This update doesn’t change that, but what does change is the need to set colours and fonts within each individual visualisation card; Instead these can now be set globally – meaning if you want to change a colour or font then you only need to do this once.

This update isn’t entirely new though. Prior to this update it was already possible to set some colours and fonts within a “*” card. Any colour and font settings within a “*” card then applied to all visualisations. We were already using this method to set title properties (title background colour, font and font colour). But with this new update we don’t need to use a “*” card, and we assume we can set more properties than we could before at this global level.

This update will mean some will want to revisit their JSON themes, to simplify them and improve them.

Other updates worth mentioning.

  • The extending of Conditional Formatting to more parts of the report has continued, which as mentioned in previous blogs is great for directing users to what matters the most.
  • The Drill Through discoverability improvement is interesting, but we think there’s more could be done to indicate to a user that a particular visual can be drilled on – both through and down.
  • It will be interesting to see how good the Direct Query performance improvements are, and what sources they apply to. We particularly say this as the need for real-time and near-real-time data only grows, and Direct Query is one way of achieving this in Power BI. However, Direct Query response times can be unacceptably slow at times – depending on the source and data volumes.

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

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