If you missed this year’s Microsoft Build, you missed a lot of great new feature releases from Microsoft! New features and releases are often a reflection of the investment and, therefore, commitment that companies have to certain tools and platforms.
These new features can also highlight a company’s vision or roadmap for tools and platforms, which is why last week’s bevy of Power Platform announcements have our phData Power Platform team very excited!
This blog will discuss some of the features that impressed and excited us to implement them into our solutions.
Here are some of the new features discussed last week that got us excited:
- New Power Platform Logo
- Field Parameters for Power BI
- Power Pages
- Power Apps Express Design
- AAS to Gen2 auto migrator
- New Row-Level Security interface with Intellisense for Power BI
- Real-time streaming in Power BI
- Embed Power BI to PowerPoint
Now let’s discuss each of these new items in more detail.
Field Parameters for Power BI
Of all the features discussed, this might be the most used one for everyday Power BI users. With this release, you now have the ability to toggle between different fields or measures using slicers. This will take the place of workarounds that include bookmarks or the SWITCH function. This function could also open up many possibilities for data exploration and self-service enablement. Make sure to check out our blog for more information about creating and implementing Field Parameters.
If you haven’t checked out any of the Power BI WorkoutWednesday challenges, these two challenges focus on using Field Parameters:
I’m not sure there was a feature that caused a bigger kerfuffle than the introduction of Datamarts. By the Guy in a Cube team’s definition, the new Datamart feature is the access layer of the data warehouse environment used to analyze and distribute data to the users easily.
It essentially creates a business layer of data that is more easily controlled and manipulated by the business group. It’s a no-code, low-code data analytics and data warehousing capability, requiring Premium capacity or PPU license. The capability lets you pull data sets from various data sources into your Datamart where the entire ETL and model building process can occur. You can also create measures (not columns) in the model view in your Datamart so that users connecting to that Power BI dataset can access those measures.
Check out this intro video from Guys in a Cube that shows you the basics of Datamarts.
AAS to Gen2 Auto Migrator
An auto AAS to Gen2 automated migration tool was announced, signaling again that the future of Microsoft data modeling will be in Gen2 storage, not AAS. Although this seemed to be the writing on the wall, this seemed to be an apparent sign more than ever that choosing Gen2 will be the route most encouraged by Microsoft.
As more and more clients are dedicated to migrating their data to the cloud, Gen2 makes more and more sense. We expect Microsoft’s investment in AAS to cease while focusing most of its resources on Gen2 practically.
If you haven’t checked out the new Microsoft documentation specific to AAS to Gen2 migration, check it out here.
Embed Power BI to PowerPoint
Another new feature discussed during Microsoft Build is the ability to embed Power BI reports into a PowerPoint presentation.
PowerPoint is still a widely used presentation tool, so having the ability to embed live reports into your presentations can help take your data storytelling capabilities to the next level. This solves the common problem of having out-of-date or static data in PowerPoint presentations. This feature will ensure you can access up-to-date data and dig deeper into the data to help answer questions or spur discussion during the presentation.
Learn more about the initial release of this capability in the Microsoft documentation here.
New Row-Level Security Interface with Intellisense for Power BI
One of my favorite features about implementing security and governance in Power BI was the ease of applying Row Level Security to reports – I think that it’s going to get a little easier here soon.
In a sample video, the user was implementing Row Level Security in Synapse using Intellisense for the field names that the RLS logic was being applied. This should help those trying to create roles in Power BI by helping them identify the values they’re looking for via Intellisense instead of having to hand type those values in every time as you have had to up until now.
In the latest release of the Power Platform portfolio, Microsoft launched Power Pages as an evolution of the Power Apps portal. Power Pages aims to empower anyone to create data-powered web pages within a low-code environment as a new, standalone product.
While the functionality existed within the Portals feature of Power Apps previously, we’re excited about Microsoft’s commitment to taking Power Pages to the next level by enabling organizations to build secure websites and integrate them within existing service offerings.
The key differentiator we see between Power Pages and other web design offerings on the market is integrating tools like Visual Studio, GitHub, and all of the Power Platform and Azure offerings. While Portals may have offered a low-code solution to landing pages within Power Apps before, Power Pages will enable organizations to build fully interactive and integrated CI/CD workflows with development teams.
Not only are the integrations growing, but Microsoft has also introduced a new design studio for styling, configuring, and publishing layouts. Included are several common templates for scheduling, registration, and app submission. While website creation certainly isn’t a new concept, we see Power Pages’ integration with the rest of the Power Platform as a considerable advantage, and the opportunity to build solutions that optimize workflows with both internal and external users will set them apart from other services.
For more information or to get started with Power Pages, check out Microsoft’s official documentation here.
Power Apps Express Design
This new feature allows you to physically draw out your Power App design and have its outline created already in the Power Apps canvas. You can also create an outline in Figma and have the canvas App automatically created for you to fill in the fields from your data. This could help cut down on design time in Power Apps canvas and improve the speed to delivery of your Power App.
Check out this new feature here.
Real-Time Streaming in Power BI
This might have been the most overlooked feature of the topics discussed during Microsoft Build. The Real Time Streaming data option will allow you to have real-time data streaming to Power BI. A couple of use cases that pop to mind are productivity metrics at a foods service business or real-time manufacturing metrics like OEE at a manufacturing plant. This feature will prove to be very valuable for any real-time data need.
You can find out more about this feature at Microsoft Documentation link here.
New Power Platform Logo
Although this is a more aesthetically pleasing one; the Power Platform now has a logo! Check it out in the image below. Although this is not a huge splash, it’s still fun to see the Power Platform suite getting its own official logo!
Why Are These Releases Important?
Tools such as Power BI have gone from barely adequate to industry standard in less than 5 years with no signs of slowing down.
This dedication to delivering large improvements to their tools shows that Microsoft is seriously invested in having the Power Platform retain its industry leader status in the Gartner Magic Quadrant ranking.
We believe that the features that continue to be unlocked in the Power Platform will help us serve our clients better in the near and long terms.