Microsoft Updates Power BI Report URL Filter, Report Server Update

The new capabilities for Microsoft Power BI add a wide range of features for users as they create business intelligence reports.

Power BI

Microsoft's Power BI application has been given a number of feature updates aimed at improving enterprise business intelligence reporting and improving the performance of Power BI for users.

In separate announcements, Power BI Report URL filter enhancements now make it easier for users to define more complex report-level filters as query string parameters directly in report URLs, while the August update for Power BI Server includes a list of long-awaited improvements, including report theming, conditional formatting improvements and report page tooltips. Tooltips is a Power BI feature that allows users to add more contextual information and detail to data points on a visual, according to Microsoft

The Power BI Report URL improvements were outlined in an Aug. 17 post on The Power BI Blog by Kay Unkroth, a Microsoft senior program manager.

"Power BI Report URL filters follow the OData syntax to be consistent with the filtering methods in other Power BI areas (such as, filter statements in Power BI cmdlets), but not all OData filter capabilities are supported in Report URL filters," wrote Unkroth. "Report URL filters can come in handy if you want to create shortcuts to pre-filtered reports."

OData, a .NET Framework serialization library that supports the Open Data Protocol (OData), is a set of programming interfaces that support advanced serialization and deserialization scenarios in applications and processes.

For Windows users, that could mean creating desktop shortcuts for quick access to the information they care about most, he wrote. "You could also add the URLs to the Favorites list of your Web browser or use them as custom URLs with dashboard tiles to view the filtered report directly from a tile."

More details can be found in the following article in the product documentation, Filter a report using query string parameters in the URL.

Power BI Report Server Update

The Power BI Server updates for August introduce many features that are designed to help users get their work done efficiently, wrote Amanda Cofsky, a Microsoft program manager, in an Aug. 16 post on The Power BI Blog.

The all-new report theming feature will allow users to quickly color their entire report to match a theme or corporate branding, wrote Cofsky. "When you import a theme, all your charts will automatically update to use the theme colors, and you'll have access to the theme colors from the color palette."

Also new is the addition of a button control to Power BI to trigger specific actions. Aimed at giving users an app-like experience with interactive elements in their reports, a button can be inserted from the ribbon, by picking on of several icons or by selecting a blank button. Once on a page, users can choose to add text, change the icon, add a fill color or give the button an outline.

"You have lots of control around the look of the icon and text including size, color, and alignment," she wrote. "Once you pick your default look for your button, you can then use the dropdown to change how it looks on hover or when it is being clicked on."

Improved default sort capabilities for visuals have also been added in the latest version, wrote Cofsky. "One of our goals is to make it fast and easy for you to create beautiful, well formatted reports. We've improved our default visual sort, so you won't need to change it nearly as frequently."

Log axis improvements have also been included for Cartesian charts, allowing users to gain the ability to select log scale for the numeric axis of any Cartesian chart, including combo chart, when using data that is completely positive or completely negative. "Reference lines should also observe the log scale and will cause the scale to resize to accommodate them," she wrote.

New data label options have been added for funnel chart creation, giving users more control for data labels. Users can now pick if each bar shows the actual value, the percentage of the first bar, the percentage of the previous bar or the actual value and one of the two percentage options, wrote Cofsky.

The latest version of Power BI Server now also features support for standard tooltips for both table and matrix visuals, based on requests and interest from users.

"You'll be able to turn tooltips on for table and matrix using the new tooltip card," she wrote. Tooltips are off by default, “so you don't need to worry about your reports changing without you knowing."

Once the tooltip card is turned on, users will get the standard Power BI tooltip for their visuals. At the same time, Microsoft added an on/off toggle for all visuals that support tooltips. The toggle has been added to the tooltip card where users control their report page tooltips.

Formatting pane improvements have also been included, such as the inclusion of a lighter gray color used inside cards so the entire pane doesn't blend together, new animations and hover effects give the pane a more polished look, according to Microsoft.

New analytics and modeling capabilities are also featured in the latest version of Power BI Server.