Power BI Update April 2024 – What new features has Microsoft given us

CSL, 11 April 2024

Last month Microsoft announced preview of Copilot for users with Premium/Fabric in Power BI web. This month they have announced preview of Copilot for report creation for Power BI desktop, which we will look into. This month we’re also focusing on Line Enhancements in Reporting and Storytelling in PowerPoint.

Reporting

Line Enhancements

This new features enables users to enhance line charts, useful if say budgeted and actual data across time is available.

The new line control features include:

  • Being able to adjust line colour transparency under Lines > Colours > Transparency.
  • Control the colour and transparency of each series by selecting them in the ‘Apply settings to’ dropdown.
  • Use Monotone and the new Cardinal smooth type for full control of smooth lines.
  • Choose from before, centre, and after step lines to align your visual with your story.

Service

Storytelling in PowerPoint

Improvements for storytelling in PowerPoint using the Power BI add-in include improved image mode, auto refresh for continuous slide show mode and populating slide titles automatically.

Improved image mode

It is now much simpler to save Power BI content as an image.

A new dropdown menu to the add-in’s footer means users can choose whether they want to see live data or a snapshot. It is much easier therefore to find where to switch between live data and a static image.

For snapshots, there are now two options:

  • Public snapshot: Anyone who can view the presentation can view the image.
  • Snapshot: Only those who have permission to view the report in Power BI will be able to see the snapshot.

The default snapshot has been disabled, so that the slide thumbnail doesn’t show the image by default but only after the add-in is loaded and the required permissions have been checked. This also applies if users copy and paste the slide into an email, for example.

This setting also applies if the presentation is opened in PowerPoint for the web. It is still not possible to change a live view into a snapshot in PowerPoint for the web, but if the user has changed the view to snapshot in the PowerPoint desktop app, this will be applied in the PowerPoint for the web view also.  

Auto refresh for continuous slide show mode

With the new automatic refresh in slide show feature, it is possible to set the add-in to automatically pull fresh data from Power BI while the presentation is in slide show mode, ensuring that the presentation will always show the most recent data.

To enable automatic refresh, go to the add-in footer, select Add-in options, choose Slide show settings, check Automatic refresh in slide show and set the desired frequency.

Note: auto refresh only happens in slide show mode and not when editing the presentation.

Auto populating slide titles

If an empty slide doesn’t have a title yet, the Power BI add-in offers suggestions for the slide title based on the content added in. The title can be the report name, the page/visual name, or both. Select the desired option and hit Add title.


Copilot

Copilot pane in Power BI Desktop (Preview)

As we mentioned, last month there was the announcement of preview of Copilot for users with Premium/Fabric in Power BI web. This month let’s look at the same Copilot feature for report creation, in preview in Power BI Desktop. 

Note: To get started using Copilot, users need write access to at least a single workspace that is assigned to a paid Fabric capacity (F64 or higher) or Power BI Premium capacity (P1 or higher) that has copilot enabled.

With the current preview, users will be able to create reports faster and more easily in Power BI Desktop.

This is done by opening the Copilot pane in report view and, for example, asking Copilot to:

  • Create a report page – Copilot will create an entire report page by identifying the tables, fields, measures, and charts that would help users get started.
  • Summarise a semantic model – Copilot helps users understand their Power BI semantic model by summarising the data in the model.
  • Suggest a topic – Copilot will suggest topics for report pages.

Click here to learn more about how to use Copilot for report creation.

Copilot-generated Linguistic Relationships

In reporting it is also possible to enhance Q&A with Copilot-generated Linguistic Relationships. Improving the linguistic schema is an important step in making sure that the Q&A visual can understand the wide range of questions people might ask about the data.

Coming up with all the different words people might use to refer to the data can be challenging. Back in November, Microsoft introduced a way to quickly generate new synonyms for the names of tables and columns in models; this month, they have introduced the same functionality for linguistic relationships. 

When you open a report with a Q&A visual, if you have Copilot enabled and you’ve already added synonyms, you’ll now see a banner prompting you to get relationships with Copilot as well.  

Unlike with synonyms, Copilot-generated relationships will only be used to understand natural language inputs once they have been approved, so make sure to accept the ones which work for your model. 

Use Copilot to help interpret Q&A questions

Copilot can also be used to improve the Q&A engine’s term recognition when asking questions. This new feature triggers when users ask Q&A a question which uses words or phrases that Q&A doesn’t recognise, but which it detects might be referring to data entities like tables or columns. Then, Copilot will also check those unknown words or phrases to see if there is any reasonable match — and, if so, return the answer as a visual as though a suggested synonym had been applied.

This is not a replacement for synonyms, In fact, adding synonyms for entities in a semantic model is even more important to create good matches, as they increase the surface area to check for similarities. It will widen the range of inputs Q&A will recognise, and like a multiplier, it will improve recognition for well-modelled data much better than it will for poorly modelled data.  

This feature is automatically enabled when users choose to get synonyms with Copilot, but it can also be turned on or off manually in the suggestion settings menu in the Synonyms tab in Q&A setup, see below.

To Wrap Up

To Wrap Up The Power BI Update April 2024

That wraps up our summary on the key points of interest delivered with last month’s update. You can find the full summary here.  

For support in getting the most out of Power BI, please call us on 01483 528302 or email info@csl-uk.com, or read more about how our Power BI experts can support you here.

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