Power BI – What new features has Microsoft given us in July 2021

By Zoe Stovell, Senior BI Developer & Team Leader, CSL

Power BI Update


Microsoft has recently released the July 2021 updates in line with the monthly release schedule. 

Below I have pulled some of the reporting updates from this release along with a more in-depth view of small multiples. 

Some of these updates are only preview features in Power BI desktop. To be able to view them you’ll need to ensure you’ve selected ‘Preview Features’ on the Options pane: 

Here are the highlights


Small Multiples

Small Multiples

Small multiples were introduced back in December 2020 and up until now they have only been available in preview. As part of the update for July, small multiples have now been made generally available along with two feature updates.

Over the last few months, we have provided updates for the ongoing development of small multiples and now they’re generally available we thought it be a good time to provide some more information about them.

What are small multiples?

Small multiples allow developers to split a chart visual into multiple versions of itself. These are displayed together to present the data that has been split by the chosen dimension e.g., territories. This feature gives users the ability to have a more detailed overview without compromising too much space on the report.

How could they be used?

Based on the client data we report on, we might use small multiples to show the following:

  • MAT Sales by territories
  • Quarterly market share growth by product groups
  • Monthly calls logged by rep 
How are small multiples implemented?

This short video demonstrates how to turn a chart into small multiples of itself.

Small multiples feature updates

Keyboard navigation and screen reader support has been updated. This allows the moving focus around the grids to be more consistent and intuitive. Any screen reader readouts will also be descriptive. 

The sort functionality has now been added to small multiples. This allows users to sort the order in which they appear by the selected measures. For example, if the small multiples were showing territory sales you could order them by the sales measure to see the territory with the highest sales first.

Conditional Formatting

With this update conditional formatting has now been added to the following formatting options:

  • Data label colours
  • Total label colours
  • Legend text colours
  • Axis start and end
  • Axis title, gridline, and label colours
  • Funnel visual percent bar label colours
  • Funnel visual category axis colour
  • Multi-row card title text, data label colours, and category label colours
  • Gauge visual axis colours, including start, minimum, and maximum
  • Slicer slider and header font colours

If conditional formatting is available, you’ll see a small FX button next to the format option, as shown below. 

 Once selected a window will pop up allowing you to setup conditional formatting.

Power Automate Visual

Following on from our April update about Power BI and Power Automate, the Power Automate visual is now available on the visualisations pane. This replaces the need to either download or import the visual. 

Alternatively, this visual can also be added from the insert tab.

It’s worth noting that the Power Automate feature is still only available in preview.

Sensitivity Labels

Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) sensitivity labels have now been made generally available in Power BI desktop. This gives developers the ability to label and protect sensitive content. This is beneficial for companies who must follow stringent security guidelines due to the confidentiality of their data.

With this update developers will also be able to republish without overriding the sensitivity labels that have already been applied to the pre-existing dataset or report. In addition to this, if an excel dataset is imported with a sensitivity label applied then Power BI will inherit the sensitivity and will it apply it additional datasets and reports within that PBIX. 

Inheriting the sensitivity label from source is already in place for imports from Azure Synapse Analytics and Azure.

When implementing sensitivity labels developers can also help users understand what they mean by adding a ‘Learn more’ option. For example, for an internal report this link might take the user to the company security policy.


The new model view has now been made generally available. This was initially released in November 2020 and the breakdown of the new features can be found in the link below.



It’s worth noting that if you haven’t already upgraded to the new model view, this will be automatically upgraded with the July 2021 update.

Data Preparation

  • DirectQuery support for Dataflow
    DirectQuery support for Power BI dataflows is now generally available. You can now connect directly to a dataflow without needing to import the data into a dataset. To use this capability, you will need to explicitly toggle the enhanced compute engine to “On” in dataflow settings and then refresh the dataflow before it can be consumed in DirectQuery mode.
  • Select all operation is now supported for Dynamic M Query Parameters
    Previously Dynamic M Query Parameters did not support the Select all operation, requiring end-users to individually select each value if they wanted to see the data for all values. Now in this release there is added support for Select all operation so that with a single-click users can select all values for the query parameter.

Data connectivity

Lots of new and updated connectors this month, list attached below:

  • Amazon Athena (new connector)
  • Databricks (updated connector)
  • Dremio (updated connector)
  • MariaDB (updated connector)


  •  Preview Streaming dataflows – this is included as part of Power BI Premium (including Premium Per User).
    • This allows users to connect to straight to streaming data in Azure and perform data preparation tasks. The Power BI visuals will work with this data in the same way it does with batch data.
  • Preview Mandatory label policy 
  • Custom help link for sensitivity labels
  • Dataset’s hub improvements
  • Goals support in lineage view
  • Scanner API (Admin REST APIs) enhancements to include dataset tables, columns, measures, DAX expressions, and mashup queries


New Visualizations

New this month are:

  • New visuals
  • Charticulator (custom visual version 1.0.5)
  • Multiple Sparklines
  • Acterys Reporting
  • PureViz Infographic – from PowerPoint to Power BI
  • Dynamic radial bar chart by JTA
  • Drill Down Waterfall PRO
  • Control Chart XmR by Nova Silva
  • Editor’s picks

Please be aware that visuals from third party may come with an additional charge to use. 

To Wrap It Up

For a full list, including any feature I did not touch on, here’s the official announcement


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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