Microsoft Power BI Supports Customizable Phone Dashboards

A new phone view editor means that users are no longer stuck with the stock mobile experience and a recent update to Power BI Publisher for Excel removes several manual steps.

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This month's updates to Power BI, Microsoft's cloud-based business intelligence data visualization and exploration tool, includes new tools that enable users to customize how dashboards are viewed on smartphones in portrait mode.

"In the phone view editor, you can unpin tiles, resize and re-order them as you'd like," wrote Romi Koifman, a Microsoft Power BI program manager, in a blog post. "As you edit the phone-optimized view, your dashboard viewers will immediately get the updated experience on their iPhones, Android, and Windows phones."

By default, Power BI dashboard tiles are rendered one after that other and are the same size when viewed on a smartphone.

Phone views can only be changed by dashboard owners, she noted. Any changes to the default phone view will only be reflected in portrait views on a phone, not on the Web, tablets or phone screens that are rotated to landscape mode.

Microsoft has tweaked Power BI's card tiles to help retain sharpness while their visuals are resized. The company plans to tackle addition visuals to better accommodate smaller screens, added Koifman.

July also brought a new update to Power BI publisher for Excel, an add-on that enables users to add insights derived from Excel charts, PivotTables and ranges to Power BI dashboards.

The Analyze in Excel function can now "be initiated directly from Excel using Power BI publisher. With this release, there's no need to download .odc files, and no need to manually install OLE DB [Object Linking and Embedding, Database] driver," wrote Tzvi Keisar, a Microsoft Power BI program manager in a separate post. Previously, the tool would create an Office Data Connection (.odc) file to link Power BI and Excel. Instructions on how to connect to data sources using the new integration are available in Keisar's post.

The Dataset API (application programming interface) has gained two features that offer developers more options in the way data is pushed to Power BI, announced Microsoft senior program manager Josh Caplan on July 19 in a blog. The API is used to create a dataset and push data from any type of source to a table within the dataset in Power BI. Now, the API supports several new additional modeling properties and sequence numbers for rows, the latter of which can help developers determine which rows of data were successfully loaded to Power BI when a network timeout or other interruption is encountered.

Finally, the chart-topping mobile hit of the summer, Pokémon Go, has invaded Power BI.

The Pokémon Go phenomenon has not only helped mainstream augmented reality, it has unseated popular social apps like Twitter and LinkedIn in terms of active users. But it's not all fun and games. The app has stoked serious security concerns and has led to some very anti-social behavior. Now Power BI has been pulled into the frenzy.

Recently, Microsoft blogger Jessica Cook alerted the Power BI community and Pokémon collectors of an interactive report detailing all the monsters available in the mixed-reality game. The report is embedded in Cook's post.

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 network of...