Wow, what a year 2020 has been! I think we have all heard enough about the pandemic, so no need to keep discussing that — hopefully, 2021 will take us all back to normal, or as close to it as possible! We have also seen some amazing Power BI releases this year. Thanks to the entire @PowerBI Team @Microsoft for all these great features! It has been an incredible year for Power BI!
Since there have been so many updates, it can get challenging trying to keep track of all of them. In this blog post, I will be listing my favourite features that were released this year. This list is based on what I started using immediately upon its release and the impact the feature had on how I use Power BI. It doesn’t mean that the other features weren’t also great, but these ones have been my favourite to use and have also made my clients really happy.
Let’s start from the beginning of the year, and go over each release with my favourite feature from that month:
There was no Power BI release this month, although a new admin setting was introduced in the Power BI Service that I found very useful. Power BI admins are now required able to take action before users can create new publish to web embed codes — users will need to ask the admin to allow them to do this. For me, it is very important to be able to enable/disable or provide the publish to web permission to selected users, so I definitely appreciated this feature. Read more here.
Feb 2020: Power BI Release Link
- Incremental refresh became generally available and incremental refresh was also introduced in Power BI Pro. Read more here.
- Native hierarchical slicer.
- New Power BI ribbon (which we all loved).
- Promote your report, dashboard and APPs on Power BI Home. This greatly helped new users discover relevant content and ensured that they will have a standardized experience for navigating within the service.
Mar 2020: Power BI Release Link
- 🚩 Announcement of read/write XMLA endpoints The read/write capability introduced many additional scenarios for dataset management, advanced semantic modelling, debugging, and monitoring.
- Introduction of gateway management on the Power Platform admin center.
- New action types for buttons: page navigation and drill through. It changed report development and made it more user-friendly with ease of use.
- Dual-axis line charts. This enables users to plot two trends with different ranges along the same X-axis progression.
Apr 2020: Power BI Release Link
- Introduction of dataset impact analysis. As a dataset owner, you need to understand how your dataset is being used. The dataset impact analysis helps you understand how careful you need to be when making changes to your dataset.
- Personalize visuals empower end-users to explore and personalize visuals — all within the consumption view of a report.
- Change detection for page refresh. I have used this feature many times already and can’t believe how useful it has been.
- Conditional formatting for totals and subtotals. This feature has really changed the use of the matrix visual.
- Rectangular lasso select across visuals.
May 2020: Power BI Release Link
- 🚩 Introduction of deployment pipelines. A new and improved way for BI teams to manage content lifecycles within Power BI Premium.
- Support of direct query for Power BI dataflows.
- Availability of page view for paginated reports in Power BI and support for subreports.
- Drop shadow for visuals. I wrote a blog post on how you can use the shadow feature to illuminate KPI cards, read about it here.
- Ability to conditionally set the page navigation setting and page navigation support for shapes and images.
Jun 2020: Power BI Release Link
- Enablement of model view for live connection where you can create multiple layouts of a model and view and modify the report measures properties.
- The new phone emulator has a fine-grained grid, which gives more flexibility in resizing and placing visuals. A longer canvas allows for more visuals to be added to the page.
- The new line chart dot formatting option allows different coloured dots to show up for categories to help you call out particular points in your line charts.
Jul 2020: Power BI Release Link
🥳 This month marked five years of Power BI!What an amazing journey, really glad to be a part of it. 🥳
- 🚩 Introduction of external tools. This really changed how we used Power BI and opened the door for many other opportunities.
- The gradient legend helps clarify the meaning of the colours in a visual to report viewers.
- The Azure map visual provides the ability to add layers to the map visual. This was a great addition to the visual library.
- Support for Excel financial functions in DAX.
- Ability to add contacts to Power BI apps and the option to allow contributors to update apps.
Aug 2020: Power BI Release Link
- Rectangular lasso select for data points, this feature makes cross filter/highlight super useful.
- Data preparation using “Text/CS By Example.”
- Perspective support of personalize visuals allows report readers to use more manageable subset fields from the larger data model so as not to overwhelm them with all fields in the model.
- Excel files can inherit the sensitivity labels from the Power BI dataset when using a PivotTable connection.
Sep 2020: Power BI Release Link
- 🚩 Introduction of the Power BI Premium per user license, which is a new way to license premium features on a per user basis. It includes all of the Pro license capabilities, along with features like paginated reports, AI, and other capabilities that are currently only available in Premium.
- New Power BI experience in Microsoft Teams.
- Smart narratives (just wow 👏).
- The option to maintain the layer order for visuals. You can now set any visual so that it stays in place rather than being brought to the front upon selection.
- Search for workspaces during publish (made life super easy).
- Total labels for stacked visual. Now, there is no need to write custom DAX code to achieve this.
- New capabilities in lineage view.
- Exporting of Power BI and Paginated Reports from Power Automate.
Oct 2020: Power BI Release Link
- Certified and Promoted reports and apps enable business users to be confident that they are making business decisions based on the right data.
- A new look for the Power BI service started rolling out.
- Introduction of Dynamic M Query Parameters that can be dynamically updated by report consumers based on their filter or slicer selections.
- Automatic table detection for Excel and JSON files.
- Canvas watermarks to help guide new users that are taking their very first steps to get data, populate the fields pane, and drag and drop visuals.
Nov 2020: Power BI Release Link
- New model view.
- Search in parameter dropdowns for Paginated Reports.
- Anomaly detection helps enhance line charts by automatically detecting anomalies in time series data.
- Option to move on-prem SSAS and SSRS closer to Power BI, which helps to ensure high intra-regional network bandwidth and low network latencies.
- New export settings that help control export to formats that are authorized by an organization’s security and compliance guidelines, while keeping export to non-authorized formats disabled.
- Enhancements to Power Query and Dataflows such as diagram view, schema view, and many other enhancements.
Dec 2020: Power BI Release Link
- 🚩🚩 An all-time favourite of mine: DirectQuery for Power BI dataset sand Azure Analysis Services. 🙌🙌
- Native small multiples feature.
- Connector to Power Automate for dataflows.
- Data protection sensitivity labels in Power BI Desktop.
- Custom publish a message when publishing reports from Power BI Desktop.
- Data governance and discovery with Azure Purview.
Last but not least, please check out the Power BI release plan community dashboard available here.CREDIT: ALEX POWERS
Every release this year has made Power BI a better product and really changed the way we use it and work with it. This compilation includes some of the features which directly impacted how I used Power BI and I hope that it can also help you discover some great new features that came out this year!
What are your favourite features/updates from this year? Share in the comments below!
Happy Holiday and Happy New Year! Stay safe! I’m looking forward to the upcoming features in 2021 and beyond.
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