My thoughts from past week Power BI news. Ignite, new PBI icon, PPU pricing, SSRS and more

Last week started with me setting up a great plan for watching Ignite. I was going on parental leave a few days with my 8 months old son so this gave me a great opportunity. All in all I was looking forward to be able to follow along with all the sessions that I had found interesting.
The Ignite scheduler was a great tool which made it possible to get a grip over the huge amount of sessions available during the days.
It also showed the times in local time zone! Amazing. All set up for a great experience.

Now, for any parents out there reading this you should have seen through my great plan by now. So, lets get back to reality and just say that my perfect plan did not go as I wished. My time was simply needed elsewhere.
Result is that as of today I have not yet watched all sessions which I had planned. Still working on it!

Anyway – I’ve been able to follow the most interesting areas and topics. This post is a summary of those things I found interesting and I want to share that with you. Many if not most of them were announced on Ignite, but there are also things from Power BI Desktop September release, social media, YT and others.


Before jumping in. In case you missed it, Power BI got a new icon announced at Ignite. This has for sure been a hot topic discussed on twitter. More on this below in the post.

My takeaways. Almost in order of importance

  • Power BI Premium Gen2
    Very interesting for those currently running Premium capacity.
    This will give features like autoscaling of v-cores, boosting your performance by up to 16X and have visibility on workspace level instead of tenant level. Because to the work done in the underlying architecture you will soon also be able to run paginated reports on all A and EM SKUs, according to Christoper Finlan, Principal Program Manager on the Power BI team.
    In general this will have a huge positive impact on any workload currently running on premium capacity.
    Bonus fact: Did you know that one of the major drives for improvement of this architecture came from enabling paginated reports on all A & EM SKUs? Pretty interesting!
  • PPU – Premium Per User
    Perhaps one of the most favored comming out of Ignite and possibly one of the greatest releases since Power BI premium. This will give you the option to license premium on a user based license, giving those users the possibility to use premium features without the need of having Power BI Premium capacity.
    No pricing has been announced yet. However it will come to public preview in November and aiming for GA towards early next year. Some very interesting news is that everyone will be able to try this license at no extra cost during the preview period.
    This feature is aimed towards organizatons of a smaller size that want to use Premium features but avoid paying for Premium capacity.
    I think the pricing of this will be very interesting considering it is aimed to lower the gap between Pro and Premium, which has a cut-off point at around 500 users. If I would guess based on the all the information given from last week it would land on somewhere between $20-$30 / user / month. Just don’t take my word on it.
  • Power BI performance accelerator
    New capability in Azure Synapse Analytics where Power BI will collect query patterns and determine materialized views. Those will then be sent to Azure Synapse for creation. This will optimize queries and give superior query performance when using Azure Synapse Analytics. Personally I find this very interesting and I can’t wait to be able to try this in a real project.
  • E2e Power BI and Synapse report performance monitoring
    Ability to correlate Power BI queries with Synapse queries to find bottlenecks.
    Will be available later this year.
E2E Power BI and Synapse report performance monitoring

  • Visual data preparation in Power Query.
    This will provide a user interface to create and visualize the data preparation process. This feature will be initially available within Power Query Online (e.g. within Power BI dataflows) and will be available in Power Query Desktop within the next calendar year.
    This is cool. I am however a bit dissapointed because I’m not doing any work in Power Query online at the moment. I will probably need to wait a while before being able to evaluate this. But based on what I’ve seen so far this will be an amazing tool and will surely improve authoring of data pipelines built in Power Query.
Visual data preparation in Power Query

  • New Power BI App in Teams
    This will give full Power BI capabilities with 1-click away in Teams.
    Consume and share reports within Teams, see shared datasets (e.g. certified from It or others from your organization), create reports, templates and explore data in Excel using Power BI datasets.
    All of the above within Teams.
    You will also be able to input data manually in a table from inside Teams, both by copy-paste or manual input. Power BI can then create example reports based on this data.
    This is a really cool addition to both Power BI and Teams and will work towards increasing accessibility and user adoption within organizations as well as making it more fun! to work with Power BI.
     
  • New features in Excel to use Power BI data.
    Analyze in Excel will now give you the Excel file instead of and .ODC file when downloading from Power BI Service. I am not sure what exact benefit this will give.
    You will also be able to use Power BI datasets from within Excel to enrich your data and build Excel reports. Congratulations to everyone who uses excel for e.g. local reporting. You will now be able to combine your data with the power of Power BI (and hopefully some enterprise data comming from that)
     
  • Power Automate visual in Power BI
    New custom visual for Power Automate where authors can, e.g. add a button in a report which kicks off a workflow. Users can then use the button. This will also allow for filter context passthrough.
     
  • Power BI and Synapse e2e classification. (MIP – Microsoft Information Protection)
    Ability to add sensitivity labels to columns in Synapse which will pass label through to Power BI reports as well as e.g. data exported from PBI to Excel.
    I have been using the sensitivity labels in Power BI and I really look forward to this. It will mean that classifications can be even more governed in a centralized place and then pushed out to all reports using that data.
  • New AI visuals in Power BI – Smart narratives and Anomoly detection.
    Smart narratives gives out of the box insights to a report based on it’s visuals and interactive filtering. Highly customizable and looks really great and is currently in Preview.
    I think this will be a great addition for everyone wanting to automate the process of finding insights in your reports, without always needing to manually filter, drill down and compare data to get your insights.
    Anomoly detection will give authors the option to enrich the current visuals and automatically find anomalies based on perzonalized parameters.
    You can read more about both of these here
     
  • Added general visual option to maintain layer order
    Finally! Small update but probably one of my favourites. This will prevent visuals from being brought to front when clicking on them in a report.
    This is one of those smaller features that really makes a big difference when building custom layouts to your reports. There has been some workarounds for this using bookmarks, but this will no longer be needed.
     
  • Search functionality in SSRS and paginated reports parameter filter dropdowns
    This is currently testing internally at Microsoft and will be released soon. This will give you the option to search and filter values in a report dropdown filter. I’ve seen it demoed and it looks great! I love these small things that simply makes life easier for end-users. Keep up the great work PBI team!
     
  • Power BI custom visual for paginated reports
    Yes! You heard it. Power BI Paginated reports is comming to Power BI.
    Correct. Paginated reports are part of the Power BI platform and it is now coming to Power BI reports.
    This will enable you to add sub reports in your PBI reports and:
    – Make the parameters take values from your Power BI report slicers.
    – Ability to print independantly from your paginated report.
    – Enable for larger data exports while keeping the format of the data.
    – Ability to drag and drop visuals to your paginated report on-the-fly

New Power BI logo icon

Perhaps one of the most discussed change from last week was the announcement of new icons for the Power Platform. Especially the icon for Power BI has been up for discussion alot since then.

Power BI icon

This is the new icon for Power BI. Now – perhaps your eye caught something in this blog post. Sure – you can scroll up and compare with the icon posted at the beginning.
The first icon posted in this blog post is the Google analytics logo.
This one on the left is Power BI. Can you spot the resemblance?


The similarity of the two is one of the things poeple have discussed and objected against. The other thing is more related to the Power BI brand changing. This will have an effect on the community. For example people in the community (outside Microsoft) need to change the icon on all websites, merch, presentations, user group platforms, swag etc.
It will surely also take some time to build up the same strong brand and awareness as the Power BI logo currently have. Especially since there will now be two version of the Power BI logo / icon. But lets see how long that will last.

But wait. Why is it called an icon. Isn’t it a logo?
To be honest – I don’t know the difference. It is probably stated in some legal document at Microsoft. However the reality is that even if it’s not a new Power BI logo (stated by many Microsoft folks that it is in fact an icon, not a logo), this is the new face outwards for Power BI. It is currently being replaced widely across the Power BI-verse.


Lets head to twitter

Marco Russo did a twitter poll which you can see below.
40%, or 280 people out of almost 700 does not like the new Power Bi icon. As you can see another 30 percent answered that it is the Google analytics logo. Only 30 percent voted yes.

I actually voted yes myself. But the reason is more about the actual icon then about the decision to change it. I like the icon because it has a much cleaner design. It also fits better toghether with the rest of the power platform / O365 / windows icons used from Windows. However I am not a fan about switching the face of Power BI, for reasons stated above. What do you think about this new Power Bi icon. Please share in the comments below.


This was it. I am very happy to be able to deliver another blog post. It has been more then 16 months since my last one. Please comment below of what you think about the news from the Power BI-verse. Which one is your faviourite?

Until next time.


Below are some links where you can read/listen about some of the news covered in this post.
https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/see-all-the-power-bi-updates-at-the-microsoft-business-applications-launch-event/

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-the-upcoming-evolution-of-power-bi-premium-to-enterprise-markets-and-beyond/

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/answering-your-questions-around-the-new-power-bi-premium-per-user-license/

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/announcing-new-power-bi-experiences-in-microsoft-teams/

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/driving-a-data-culture-in-a-world-of-remote-everything/

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/power-bi-september-2020-feature-summary/

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/smart-narrative-preview/

Guy in a cube – REPLAY Power BI tips from the Pros – LIVE /w Chris Finlan (Sept 26, 2020)

Guy in a cube – The Power BI Smart Narrative visual is INSANE AMAZING!

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