Data Analytics

Power BI Updates – January, February & March 2020

Here we take a look at the latest updates released from Microsoft for Power BI. Here are the latest additions for January, February & March 2020!

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Yes, we know it’s been a while, a lot has happened in the world

since the last updates came out; however, we’re back!

We’ll be looking at the Power BI updates from January, February and March 2020, compiling everything that you need to know.

There are a few key points which have been implemented over the past couple of months…

  • As of next month, all reports will start using the new filter pane. With this in mind, if you do have any reports which are still using the old method of filtering, I would advise going into these and updating them
  • The new ribbon introduced over the last few months will now be turned on by default
  • Query Diagnostics is now a generally available feature

Dataset Management

Refresh Moved To A Pro Feature

This feature, which was previously a premium only feature is now a pro feature, making it much more accessible! It’s very important when working with huge datasets. If you know your historical data doesn’t change, this option allows you to simply refresh your recent data and combine this to your already-loaded historical data. This can result in huge performance gains in terms of refresh speed and loads on servers.

Reporting Updates

New Button Functionality

Buttons have seen a slight revamp this month, getting two new features. First off you can now use a button to navigate to another page. This was possible before however this process involved creating bookmarks, now it is as simple as creating a button. Drill through functionality has also now been added to the button. This makes it slightly clearer as to when and how to drill through to see your data in more detail.

New Table Sort Functionality

A small but useful upgrade, Power BI now lets you sort tables by more than one column. By holding down ctrl, you are now able to sort tables by as many columns as you see fit.

Duel Y Axis For Line Charts

I’m honestly surprised it took this long to bring this functionality into the line charts. This duel axis functionality has been around for some time in the line and stacked bar chart visual, however you now can show two separate Y axis for separate lines. This can be great for comparing two separate time series trends such as Sales against Profit.

Filter Pane Search

For those that have a long list of filters in their filter panes, this could be a useful feature. The filter pane will now have a search bar at the top in which you can search for a filter. This will return the selected filter and you can interact with it as you would previously. If you feel you don’t have many filters and want to turn this feature off, you can go to the report settings in options and de-select “enable search for the filter pane”.

Update To The Decomposition Tree

The Decomposition tree visual was released a few months back and a lot of work has been spent since on updating its look and feel. This month a new feature allows you to choose how many data bars are shown per level. Restricting this can be useful if you are looking to save space on your report. Another update alters what a lot of users were complaining about, in that when you scroll up or down a level the bars would forget the global maximum and would instead default to show a local maximum (If you use these charts I hope this makes sense). The chart will now remember the levels global maximum, and data bars will adjust accordingly.

Hierarchical Slicer

There are a few custom visuals, such as the xViz Hierarchical Filter, which already gives users the ability to have hierarchical levels within slicers. However, Microsoft have decided to make this feature part of the base Power BI slicer. After turning on the preview feature, you will now be able to drag more than one field into the slicer and it will be formatted in a hierarchical view.

More Ribbon Updates

Microsoft have taken on board some of the communities’ comments and have made a few changes to the new ribbon.

  • The save, forward and back button, and the user log in control have been added to a new bar placed just above the ribbon
  • Accessibility features have been added to the ribbon, so for those developers that dislike the mouse you can now access anything from the ribbon using the keyboards tab controls
  • Custom format strings have also been added to the ribbon; previously this functionality was only found in the model section

Modelling Updates

New DAX measure: Coalesce()

Coalesce() replaces the need for a nasty measure involving lots of if functions. This one is easiest to explain with an example.

Imagine you have 3 Fields: Postcode, Town and County. If you use apply Coalesce to these 3 fields, it will first look to see if a postcode is present and if so, the measure will return the postcode. If the postcode is blank it will then check the town, followed by the county, returning the first non-blank value.

Additional DAX Expressions Added

  • FirstNonBlankValue
  • LastNonBlankValue

Hold on… don’t we already have these…? There has previously been DAX for FirstNonBlank and LastNonBlank, however these new expression works slightly differently. Both the new and previous DAX evaluate the expression to find the first non-blank value, however FirstnonBlank will return the Column whereas FirstNonBlankValue will return the expression value.

Custom Visuals

xViz – Waterfall chart

I’m starting to lose count of how many different types of waterfall charts that are now available. I may be missing something here, but I don’t see what this one can do which any of its predecessors couldn’t already do.

Updates to ArcGIS

ArcGIS have added some extra functionality to their mapping tool inside Power BI, however these new features do require you to have ESRI premium licencing. Updates include new connection properties and support for multiple referencing layers.

xViz – Funnel and Pyramid Charts

Both charts could be useful when trying to visualise data with some sort of a flow (for example lead conversions), however, I’m not a huge fan off the looks of these 2 visuals. I personality feel Microsoft’s built in funnel chart does the same job but has a nicer look and feel to it.

3AG Systems – OEE dashboard (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)

This chart could be useful if you are in the manufacturing industry and you want to get an understanding of your equipment’s effectiveness. With that said, this visual requires data to be structured in a particular way and it looks similar to a burger chain menu so I will not be rushing to use it.

MAQ Software – Organisation chart

This is MAQ’s version of a hierarchical chart. The functionality looks similar to that of the decomposition tree Microsoft released a few months back, however this doesn’t have some of the more exciting analytics features. This does however have the option to add an image to the chart, so this may be an exciting visual to show something along the lines of staff sales within their team hierarchy.

PQ Systems – PI Viz pack

Perfect for the analysts, this pack of visualisations has charts ranging from histograms to x-bar range charts. These provide a little more statistical analysis compared with standard Power BI Charts.

Zebra BI – Updated existing visualisations

The last update back in December had some new visualisations from Zebra BI which had some very fancy functionality. This month Zebra have released a few updates to these visualisations to improve usability and add further functionality.


  • MicroStrategy Connector is now generally available
  • FHIR Connector is now generally available
  • Factset Connector
  • TIBCO Connector
  • Jamf Pro Connector
  • Asana Connector

Data Preparation

Query Diagnostics For Non-Admins

Previously, you needed admin privileges in order to run query diagnostics on your datasets. These restrictions have been taken off so you can now take advantage of this feature without such privileges.

Template Apps

  • Azure Devo Ops by Data Maur
  • TeamsPower by Encamina
  • Microsoft365 Usage Analytics
  • NFL analytics
  • Acterys for Quickbooks, Xero and WorkflowMax

Data Connectivity

  • Hive LLAP
  • Cognite