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Power BI February 2021 Feature Summary

Welcome to the first feature summary of 2021! This month, amongst others, we have a couple of updates on ongoing previews, as well as a new color picker that features RGB color selector and a search bar to make discovery of features easier. Additionally, we are introducing new filter operations and make it easier to configure email subscription attachments.

That’s not all though, so read on for all the details.

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Here is the full list of February updates:




Data connectivity




Template Apps



To see demos of the highlights, check out the video below.

DirectQuery for PBI datasets and Azure Analysis Services Updates (preview)

Thank you to everyone who has given feedback on this feature so far!

Deleting DirectQuery connections

Based on your feedback, we’ve added in the ability for you delete DirectQuery connections to Power BI datasets and Azure Analysis Services.  To do so, go to the Data Source Settings dialog, which you can find in the dropdown for “Transform data”.

In the Data source settings dialog, right click on the DirectQuery connection you’d like to delete:

Please note that this does not reverse the action of adding a local model. This action deletes the DirectQuery connection, and all the tables and fields associated with that connection.

Calculated tables

We have added support for calculated tables in this release.

Thank you to everyone who has tried the feature so far and given their feedback. It’s not too late to jump in! Please try the feature and keep the feedback coming.

Search Bar

This month, we have an improvement to the Power BI Desktop ribbon. We’ve heard some feedback that sometimes it can be difficult to find the commands, files, or options you are looking for. Now, in Power BI Desktop, you can see a search bar just like you can in other Office products.

When you click on the search bar, Power BI will suggest some actions for you to take based on the current state of your report.

As you type in a keyword, the search results will update to show you buttons that are related to your search. You can click “Get help” and be directed to Microsoft documentation.

If you have a visual or field selected, special tabs show up in the ribbon with buttons that apply to your selection. If you select a visual or field, those special ribbon buttons will be included in your ribbon search results as well. For example, the following image shows when a field has been selected, so the data type option shows up in the search box, and I can modify the data type of my selected field inside the search box results.

Please note that this feature is only available in English right now.

Model View Updates (preview)

Thank you for your feedback on the new model view! This month, we have some more updates to share with you. The colors in the table card headers will match the colors in the report theme you are using.

Report ThemeDiagram

If your theme uses a color that is too close to white, it won’t be used in the table headers to mitigate situations where it can be hard to differentiate tables in dual mode.

The relationships have a new look where the direction and cardinality has been centralized rather than being spread out across the relationship line.

on your feedback, we’ve also added options to expand and collapse all the table cards in your model diagram at once. You can do this a few different ways. You can right-click on a table card in the diagram or click on the more options button to get the Collapse all and Expand all options.

Or you can right-click anywhere on the gray background behind your model diagram and the following menu options with expand and collapse will appear:

Lastly, there are a couple of performance improvements:

  1. We heard your feedback on the table threshold for the All tables view and have increased it to 75 tables. If your model has less than 75 tables, the All tables view will be shown. If you have more than 75 tables in your model, instead of the All tables view, you’ll see the following image:

    If you’d like to bypass the threshold, you can press “Show all tables”. However, we strongly don’t recommend that as this could cause Power BI to consume extreme amounts of memory, CPU cycles, and slow down significantly. Instead, if you want to make modifications to your diagram, we suggest creating layouts and working with a smaller number of tables at a time.
  2. The responsiveness of relationships drawn between tables and of moving tables in the diagram around should be faster. If you’re using a model with more than 75 tables, we’re interested in hearing some feedback from you on this performance improvement.

New Field List (preview)

Back in November we released the new field list to Model view only, in this month’s release the preview switch will now include ALL views: Model, Report and Data views. This change will create consistency for functionality and UI across views (where applicable) to address customer feedback and confusion. To turn this on, find the preview feature switch in the preview options: File > Options and settings > Options > Preview features > New Field list. To see the complete list of changes please refer to our November blog release here.

Small Multiples (preview): gridlines and background colors

Continuing our work on the Small Multiples preview feature, we’ve added gridline and background color controls to the grid layout formatting card! These provide you with new options to clearly separate your Small Multiples plot areas.

You can find the formatting controls in the grid layout card in the formatting pane:

Here, you can now set background color and transparency, add an assortment of different gridline patterns, and style those gridlines.

To learn more about what else we have planned for small multiples, check out the announcement blog post. And please continue to send us feedback on the feature through the feedback survey here. We’re actively iterating on our planned feature work based on your feedback, so make your voice heard!

Color picker

We have updated the color picker to make it easier to work with. The color swatches are more separated, so it is easier to find the color you need. In the ‘More colors’ screen you can now enter a RGB value in addition to a HEX value.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the existing and updated experience:

Smart guides for aligning objects are now available in the mobile layout view

Smart guides are now available in mobile layout view, just like in the regular web layout view. Smart guides help you align objects on your mobile report page. Any time you drag or resize objects, you’ll see the smart guides. In addition, when you move an object close to another one, it will snap into a position aligned with the other object.

New filter operations: “is empty” and “is not empty”

We’ve now added two new filter operations for Text datatypes: is empty and is not empty. 

You can find these new operations in the Filter pane in the Advanced filtering type: 

The operation is empty shows items when the value is an empty string (“”).

The operation is not empty shows items when the value is not an empty string (“”).

  • If you have text values that have only spaces (“   ”), these values are automatically converted to empty strings (“”).
  • If you’re wanting to filter out or filter to null values (no value), you’ll need to use the is not blank or is blank operation.

More granular control over certificate revocation check for web connections

In November 2020, we introduced certificate revocation check for web connections in Power BI Desktop. The feature could be enabled (or disabled) by checking (or unchecking) the “Enable certificate revocation check” in the Security pane in the Options dialog in Power BI Desktop.

Since then, we have received feedback that you need to have more fine-grained control over the certificate revocation check. This month, we are making some changes to this experience to give you precisely that by introducing a “basic” check. The “basic” check will accept certificates whose revocation status is unknown, for example because the certificate does not specify it. This is important for some organizations that use corporate proxy servers. Next to that you can still disable the revocation check or enable it in comprehensive mode, which will not accept certificates with unknown revocation status.

To summarize:

Unfortunately, however, the checkbox mentioned previously will still be shown in Power BI Desktop. We aim to update that in the next update for Power BI Desktop to align with the three options mentioned above.

To use the more fine-grained control today without having to wait for the user interface change, please set the following DWORD registry value: DisableCertificateRevocationCheck. You will need to set this in Power BI Desktop’s registry key, which is HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREWOW6432NodeMicrosoftMicrosoft Power BI Desktop or HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftMicrosoft Power BI Desktop depending on your systems configuration.

You can set the registry value to one of the following values:

0BasicCertificates that have an unknown revocation status will be accepted. Equivalent to enabling the checkbox in Power BI Desktop)
1DisabledIgnore all revocation checks. Equivalent to disabling the checkbox in Power BI Desktop)
2ComprehensiveRequire certificates to not be revoked.

Feel free to configure this registry setting to take advantage of the more fine-grained control today. We aim to update the options in Power BI Desktop soon.

Anomaly detection now in ribbon

In November 2020 we previewed Anomaly detection. We have now added a new entry point for the feature in the ribbon under the AI section of Data/Drill tab. We have also decreased the minimum number of data points required for the analysis to 4. We greatly appreciate any feedback in terms of what you liked about the feature and how we can improve it!  If you have any feedback for the team, please comment on our community post.

Enhanced dataset metadata format

Enhanced dataset metadata is now generally available. In the past, only loadable queries generated in Power Query were stored in the data model. Now all queries will be part of the data model definition.

This backend change has already unlocked new features and will continue to do so in the future.

For example:

  1. With the addition of external tools in Power BI Desktop (which is currently in preview), tables added through external tools will now appear as queries once you re-open your report.
  2. For those of you who have tried exporting a PBIT and unzipping the file, you’ll now see the model in JSON and will no longer get errors about corrupted files.

Keep in mind that if you have an older PBIX that cannot be automatically updated for reasons such as unapplied changes, you’ll need to successfully upgrade your model before you can make any additional modeling changes.

New Teams Analytics Connector

The new connector for Microsoft Teams enables you to view some of your personal Teams usage data to understand and improve how you are using Microsoft Teams. It enables you to understand key usage metrics like how many meetings in Teams you’ve participated in, how many minutes you’ve spent sharing your screen, video, and audio, and view activity metrics for the Teams you are a member of. The data available is the same data available from within the analytics view in Teams and a personal view of your Microsoft Teams user activity.

Snowflake: Support for Custom Roles

We added custom role support to the Snowflake connector, a key feature requested by users of the connector. Specification of a role provides query-level granularity, as the role becomes part of the “Source” step in each of the generated M queries, providing more flexibility to users. In the connection experience, a new option under “Advanced Options” of the Snowflake connector will allow users to specify a text value to use as a Role name.

Parquet Files: Connector Available in Power BI Desktop

Previously the Parquet Files connector was only available in dataflows. With this release, the connector will now be available in Power BI Desktop in the Get Data experiences. Note that this connector is only available in 64-bit installations of Power BI Desktop.

Hive LLAP: Support for Windows Authentication

We updated functionality for the Hive LLAP connector to support Windows Authentication.

Salesforce: API Update

We updated the Salesforce connector to by default use V48 API to ensure up-to-date compatibility with Salesforce APIs. Salesforce API versions generally deprecate after three years, often resulting in removed objects or properties. If the upgrade results in removed objects or properties causing trouble refreshing, you may manually set the API version through the Advanced Editor, and then update your queries to be compatible with V48.

SAP HANA and BW: New Documentation

We released new connector articles for SAP HANA and SAP Business Warehouse documentation.

Email subscription attachment

We heard your feedback and are excited to share that you can now create a subscription from a premium upgraded workspace or with PPU for yourself and others and include a copy of all pages in your reports. This eliminates the need to subscribe separately to each section and in many ways is the same as generating an export of the report. Attachments may be generated in either PDF or PPT.

Easily find your org’s endorsed content using the mobile app

Content that’s been promoted or certified in the Power BI service is now tagged in the app with a badge. Report creators promote their content to show that it’s ready for you to use (promoted) or certify their content to show that it’s been approved by your org (certified).

Power BI free license users can now navigate to workspaces in the mobile apps

Until now, free license users could only access workspace content through the “Shared with me” page. With this release, Power BI free license users can view and access workspaces for which they’ve been added as viewers directly from the workspaces list.

Note: This change is applicable only for content that’s hosted on a Power BI Premium capacity.

New visuals

The new visuals for this month are:

Shielded HTML Viewer by Nova Silva

Context is king in data visualization. This probably explains the popularity of Power BI visuals that allow users to add HTML formatted content to their reports and dashboards.

Showing HTML formatted content can add great value to your reports, but it may also form a potential security risk. This is why we created the Shielded HTML Viewer: the first and only HTML Viewer for Power BI certified by Microsoft.

The Shielded HTML Viewer (in the image above used in the tooltip of a dumbbell chart) is based on a so called allow-list: only those HTML tags and attributes mentioned in this list will be interpreted and formatted accordingly. Anything else will be ignored, so no risk of running harmful HTML codes.

Furthermore, all functionality is available through the standard Power BI interface, so no need to learn a new interface.

Don’t hesitate and try the Shielded HTML Viewer now on your own data by downloading it from the AppSource. All features are available for free to evaluate the Shielded HTML Viewer within Power BI Desktop.

Questions or remarks? Visit us at: https://visuals.novasilva.com.

Zebra BI Tables (version 4.5)

The Zebra BI Tables visual, version 4.5, brings a brand new formula editor so you can simply add custom-calculated rows directly in the visual, support for dynamic commentary, ability to invert and rename groups in tables and much more.

Watch the video of the new functionality of Zebra BI Tables:

Formula Editor

Goodbye complex data set changes, hello custom calculations within Zebra BI!

You can now add a completely new element (that is not in your dataset) to your Zebra BI table, calculate it with a formula within the visual and format the row as appropriate.


Dynamic commentary

Commenting can make or break your Power BI reports. It’s crucial for conveying your key business messages in a clear and comprehensive way.

From now on, you can display dynamic comments in your Power BI reports and dashboards! Zebra BI 4.5 brings:

  • Dynamic comment markers,
  • Comment tooltips and
  • Dynamic linked comments

that will allow you to implement a wide range of dynamic commentary solutions!

There are many other important new features in the Zebra BI Tables visual, such as the ability to invert and rename table groups and more. Read all about it here: Zebra BI Visuals Product Update 4.5

Zebra BI Charts (version 4.5)

The latest version of Zebra BI Charts visuals, version 4.5, brings several design improvements as well as the dynamic comments.

Display variances as chevron arrows

You can now display your variances with arrows pointing up/down or left/right to better distinguish between positive and negative variances:

This feature is very useful for people with color vision deficiencies because variances are not distinguished only by color but also by their shape.

Read more about this feature in Zebra BI product update page: https://zebrabi.com/power-bi-custom-visuals/zebra-bi-visuals-for-power-bi-product-update-4-5/

Dynamic commentary

Similar to Zebra BI Tables, the Zebra BI Charts visual also supports adding comment markers, comment tooltips and dynamic linked comments

Other new features

There are many new features and improvements in the Zebra BI visuals that will improve the design and usability of your Power BI reports and dashboards. Read about the full product update here: Zebra BI for Power BI – 4.5 Update

ValQ 2.0 Released with Connected and Collaborative Planning Features

ValQ 2.0 release for modern visual planning has several exciting new features for enterprises looking for planning and simulation capabilities within Power BI.

ValQ Collaborate 2.0 is now completely free on Power BI Desktop and we have also simplified pricing structure as well.

Drill Down Combo PRO by ZoomCharts

Combo PRO Visual by ZoomCharts lets you combine columns, lines and areas in one visual in any combination. Designed for fast, efficient, and exciting data exploration with single touch/click drill down and drill up functionality. Among the main features for the Combo PRO Visual by ZoomCharts, you will find: On-chart interactions – click, pan, zoom-in/out to explore multiple drill-down levels; Multiple chart types – choose between column, line and area chart for each series; Stacking and clustering – stack or cluster series, chose between series specific or cumulative(total) values; Static and dynamic thresholds – set up to 3 thresholds to demonstrate targets or benchmarks; Full customization – customize X and Y axes, legends, stacks, tooltip, fill settings, outlines; Multi-touch device friendly – get equal experience on any device and many more.

Read more here. Get the visual from AppSource.

Editor’s picks

The new Editor’s picks visuals of the month are:

The Editor’s picks can be found in the in-product AppSource in Power BI Desktop and service under Editor’s picks category.

Microsoft partners: Installing a preconfigured template app

Last December we announced a new capability that enables template app publishers to provide preconfigured template app installation for their customers.

When installing a template app, users had to configure parameters to connect the template app to their data. Oftentimes users found this step confusing and were unsure about what information to provide, leading to many failed installations. Now, as a template app publisher you can preconfigure the template app installation, making life easy for your customers and eliminating a frequently encountered source of frustration.

Sales Analytics AI for Microsoft Business Central

With the Sales Analytics for Microsoft Business Central template app, you leverage your investment in Business Central. Extend your business process management with analytical capabilities to improve your business performance.

Do you want to know status, trend, and contribution of your sales and orderbook? Drill-down to see the details of your salespersons, customers, and items. To understand customer behavior and customer loyalty you can use the customer retention report page. It shows which customers per country are new, returning, lost, or recovered and what is the sales margin compared to the previous year. The dynamics segmentation creates price range, customer and item segmentations based on lifetime values. This is very powerful to optimize your product portfolio or for targeted customer engagement. The cross-analytics report page is the place to proactively explore your data and find deviations to address your actions. Look into the future. Discover trends and make a forecast. How will the selected measure develop in the future based on historical data. Unleash the power of artificial intelligence and let the system detect the root cause for your Sales Margin Variance. What are the single or combined Key Influencers that drive my Sales Margin?

All that you need is to download and to install the free Business Central Extension which is part of the solution.

Get the AI app from AppSource

Get the standard app from AppSource

Visual container fix

Custom visuals didn’t fully support the customize series. The fix is now available in Service and Desktop. For more details, see issue.

EnumObjectInst with no datarole support

With the 3.6 API release, a Power BI visual can receive updates from Power BI without the need to bind any data. In order to use this feature, a visual needs to:

  • use the “powerbi-visuals-api” 3.6.0 version
  • have these capabilities:
  • “supportsLandingPage” set to true
  • “supportsEmptyDataView” set to true

New icon update

Across the Power Platform we have updated our product icons to the new Fluent design system. As you have probably seen this new style rolling out across Microsoft products including Office and Dynamics, we aim to create brand consistency and bring a modern, full color experience. We hope you agree!

Heads up: Microsoft 365, including Power BI, ending support for Internet Explorer 11 and legacy version of Microsoft Edge

Heads up to Power BI tenants and users still using Edge Legacy or Internet Explorer 11, as announced last year in this MS365 blog post, products like Power BI will no longer support IE11 as of August 17, 2021. Microsoft Edge Legacy end of life is on March 9, 2021. The blog post linked to above has resources for how to plan for the transition to other browsers and how to get the most out of using the new Microsoft Edge.

Paginated reports export API is now generally available

The export API for paginated reports ONLY is now generally available.  Customers can take advantage of the export API in all A SKU’s, P SKU’s, and Premium per user.  Please read the documentation to learn more about the capabilities.

Instructor led training February 24th and 25th

This month, we provide an instructor led training: Admin in a day Power BI, free for the community trained by our MVP’s: Sharon Sumner, Ashraf Ghonaim, Markus Ehrenmueller, Nicky Vroenhoven, Frank Geisler, Michael Johnson & Ásgeir Gunnarsson and Yana Berkovich from the Power BI content team. Aspiring Power BI admins, analysts and developers, please join us Feb 24th and 25th 5-9 AM Pacific time. Read more here.

That is all for this month! Please continue sending us your feedback and do not forget to vote for other features that you would like to see in Power BI! We hope that you enjoy the update!

If you installed Power BI Desktop from the Microsoft Store, please leave us a review.

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Power Fx: Error handling graduates to preview

We are thrilled to announce that the long-time experimental feature Formula-level error handling has moved forward to preview. As a result, you and your end users will enjoy higher reliability and more transparency about what is happening in your apps. It’s a huge step. Adding error handling to an existing language turned out to be a very tall order, touching almost everything, from data types, to functions, to the runtime. Thank you for all of your support, feedback, and patience as we got this done. What does it mean for you? Your apps will more reliably detect and report errors.You can write blank/null values to a database.You can detect and replace errors with the IsError, IsErrorOrBlank, and IfError functions.You can control error reporting and logging at a central location with App.OnError.You can create and throw your own custom errors with the Error function. Error handling is a big change in behavior. By entering preview, we are signaling that we believe we are done, that we anticipate no further significant changes from here. Many of you already use error handling in production and this move to preview should only embolden more of you to do so. If significant changes are needed from here, we will treat them as a separate feature. We are rolling this out slowly as it is such a big change. All of you will soon see that the Formula-level error handling switch has moved from experimental to preview in the settings (as of version 3.22082). It will still be default to off for most tenants. Over the coming weeks we will slowly change the default for new apps only to on across the tenants. Makers can still disable this feature and will be able to do so for a long time. I say again: we are changing the default for new apps only. Existing apps will continue running as they always have. We have no plans at this time to turn this on for existing apps, and as this is such a big change, we may never do this and make this a permanently available switch. Your feedback will guide us. The documentation for Error, IfError, IsError, IsErrorOrBlank functions and the App.OnError property covers these changes. IfError and IsError are very similar to their Excel counterparts. We are also working on overview docs that will be released shortly. But before that, let’s take a brief tour. Let’s start with what Excel does, the inspiration for Power Fx. For an error like division by zero, Excel is very clear that something has gone wrong with a # error message that shows right in the cell. This error will propagate to other cell formulas if A1 is used in a formula: Today, without error handling, Power Apps won’t report anything in this scenario, instead treating the division by zero error as a blank value. That’s not good, as the maker and the end user of the app have no idea something may have gone wrong: Errors happen. Unexpected data flows in, networks go down, storage fills up, to name just a few situations that an app may encounter in the real world. Makers don’t often think through all the ways that things can go sideways which makes default error handling even more important. Returning a blank for an error is also a problem because blank is a legitimate value in our type system and in many databases. Without error handling, Power Apps won’t allow you to write a blank to a database instead thinking it is an error. So, instead of returning an easy to ignore or misinterpret blank value, with error handling turned on we now report an error to the end user (the error banner) and show the formula as having an error to the maker (the red filled in circle on the control): Further, if you look at the value of the formula, it is not a blank but an error value. Just as any formula can result in a blank, now any formula can also result in an error: Now, we still aren’t showing an error in the label control itself as Excel does. We couldn’t do this generically because, unlike Excel, the error could be on a property of a control for which there is no way to display the error. For example, where should an error on a slider control? Where should an error be shown for an imperative operation in the middle of a button’s OnSelect formula? We settled on showing the end user banner and flagging the control in the design experience. That’s not to say you can’t detect and display an error in that label control. Error handling provides a wealth of mechanisms to control how errors are handled and reported. For example in this case, we can wrap the division by zero with an IfError function to return a custom message in the label: The Text function call is required for type compatibility. Or we can use IfError to throw a different, more specific error with the Error function: Or we can have a catchall for all errors in the app with App.OnError. For example, we can log the error and present a different message to the end user: If we look at the log, we see the details of the captured error from FirstError (and there is also an AllErrors), including where it happened and when it was detected: The possibilities are endless! You now have all the tools you need to detect, replace, report, and log errors, including a good default behavior if you never take advantage of these tools. And, bonus, you can also now write blank (or null) values to databases. Please let us know what you think in the Power Apps community forum. There is a dedicated and active space for error handling discussions at Error Handling – Power Platform Community (microsoft.com).

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