Microsoft Releases Inspector Tool to Diagnose Slow Power BI Dashboards

The company's new Performance Inspector tool helps users to get to the bottom of issues that could be contributing to sluggish Power BI dashboards.

Power BI inspector

What good is real-time analytics if users are forced to wait for a slow interface to refresh? Microsoft wants to make sure that users don't have to wait idly for business insights when they call up their Power BI dashboards.

The company has added a new dashboard Performance Inspector tool to its cloud-enabled business intelligence and analytics platform, allowing users to find and fix problems that slow down the user experience.

Slow load times can cause lapses in user engagement, according to a study by web design firm Webby Monks. It can take as few as two to three seconds for visitors to decide that a website is not worth their time. A one-second delay in the time it takes to load a page can result in 11 percent fewer page views and a 16-percent decrease in customer satisfaction.

At home, users may not be too worried if their online shopping sprees takes a few extra seconds to complete. At work, a delay, multiplied by several users, can have a negative impact on how quickly teams arrive at business decisions.

"As creators, you want your dashboard to load fast and provide quick insights to your customers. To aid this process, we added a feature called Performance Inspector in the Power BI service that helps you inspect and diagnose why the loading time is poor," Nikhil Gaekwad, a Power BI program manager, wrote in a company blog post. "You'll see alerts that identify the potential issue and suggest a fix. Give it a try by simply navigating to any dashboard that you have edit permissions to, opening the ellipsis menu, and choosing Performance Inspector."

To help customers better control how data is refreshed on the Power BI cloud service, Microsoft has issued new APIs that can be used to programmatically trigger a data refresh and retrieve refresh histories, said Gaekwad.

Power BI's updated mobile Q&A feature, previewed during Microsoft's Data Insights Summit in June, is now available on iOS. Power BI Q&A allows users to ask questions in plain English and generates answers in the form of visualizations and data points.

With some help from Microsoft Research, the Power BI team was able to make it more conversational. Instead of simply delivering statistics and figures with machine-like efficiency, the feature now offers relevant insights that help tell the story behind the data. Power BI Q&A is also more context-aware, enabling users to ask follow-up questions as they would if they were speaking with a coworker.

On-premises Data Gateway - Personal Mode, software that allows users to install a Power BI gateway to access data on their own computers, gains export log functionality, an improved Fast Combine feature and the ability to delete gateways from the Power BI portal.

Finally, users can subscribe to dashboard email updates. After navigating to any given dashboard, users can select how often they would like to receive an email update, after which the service will send a snapshot of the dashboard when the underlying data changes.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...