Power BI Bookmarks

So far, Power BI has lacked the ability to navigate to particular report element, such as another report page, and to allow you to show/hide visuals. For example, Tableau allows you to add buttons to pages and navigate to another page on button click. Such navigation capabilities are important for story telling and for emphasizing elements on the screen.

This changes with the October release of Power BI Desktop which brings a set of navigation capabilities, including bookmarks, spotlight, and selection page.

Suppose you have a meeting and walk management through the sales performance of your company. You start with a bar chart. There is a decrease in sales in which you can explain by using the Analyze Increase/Decrease which I discussed here. Now you have two visuals on the same page:

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But at the beginning of your presentation, you’d want to bring focus on the bar chart, explain the overall trend, and then focus on why sales have decreased (the waterfall chart). You can use bookmarks to achieve this.

  1. Open the new Selection pane (in the View ribbon tab) and hide the Waterfall chart.
  2. While on the View ribbon tab, check the Bookmarks pane. Click Add to bookmark the state of the current page.
  3. Unhide the waterfall chart and create another bookmark.

Now you have two bookmarks that show/hide visuals on the same page. This is conceptually similar to the Power Point animation pane although bookmarks don’t come up with cool entry and exit animations. Now when you present, you can simply use the Bookmarks pane for navigation the way you can use a Table of Contents (TOC) in a Word document.

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Bookmarks are a welcome new Power BI feature. They are important for data story telling and for improving the navigation experience in a busy report.

Configuring Power Query OData Feeds

Scenario: A customer has implemented a Power BI model that retrieves data by calling the Dynamics CRM OData Feed endpoint. The dataset refresh operation is timing out. They want to increase the timeout setting but unlike connecting to SQL Server, where you can set the timeout duration in the source advanced properties, there is no UI for ODATA.

Solution: If you open the query behind the table, and click the Source step, you’ll see in the Query Editor formula bar the following M code:

= OData.Feed(“https://<tenant>.api.crm.dynamics.com/api/data/v8.1/”)

From the documentation, we realize that OData.Feed can take additional settings and one of them is the Timeout setting that you can pass to the third options argument. For example, you can change the M code to set the timeout to 1 hour:

= OData.Feed(“https://<tenant>.api.crm.dynamics.com/api/data/v8.1/”, null, [Timeout=#duration(0,1,0,0)])

The timeout uses the duration data type which is explained here. Bringing this one step further, you can restrict what records get pulled in the OData.Feed using $filter and also only grab data for the columns you’re using by including the field names in the $select parameters, e.g.

“https://<tenant>.crm.dynamics.com/api/data/v8.1/leads?$filter=<somefield> eq 740110001&$select= <removed list of fields>”

Power BI Premium Reports on Mobile Devices

Can we surface Power BI reports deployed to Power BI Premium Report Server on mobile devices? Yes, and we have three quick options:

  1. Since Power BI reports render in HTML5, they should render in any modern browser.
  2. On iOS and Android devices, consider Power BI Mobile for optimum viewing experience. In Power BI Mobile, go to the Settings and click Connect to Server. Then plug in the report server URL, e.g. http://<servername>/reports. Note that the Power BI Mobile Windows app doesn’t support Power BI Premium Report Server yet. Also, by default your reports will only work if you are on your company intranet or the mobile device connects to your company VPN. To make reports available outside corporate network, you can configure a Web Application Proxy to tunnel in.
  3. For embedding reports on a page, have an HTML page with iframe that request the report by URL passing the embed parameter as explained here.

Power BI can’t reach to your report server? Don’t forget to configure the firewall on the Power BI Premium Report Server to allow inbound connections over port 80, as explained here.