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A list of the updates made in the April 2017 update to Power BI Desktop
Part four of a six-part series of blogs

This update includes some nice new features - for example, creating columns by example and changing chart axis titles. Read this blog for a full list!

  1. Updates in the April 2017 Edition of Power BI Desktop
  2. You can now change the axis titles
  3. Splitting Columns, and Putting the Results into Rows
  4. Creating columns by example (this blog)
  5. Simplified Group By Transform in Query Editor
  6. Quick Way to Select a Column in Query Editor

For a cumulative list of all of the updates to Power BI Desktop since November 2016 see this blog, or have a look at the Power BI courses that we run.

Posted by Andy Brown on 28 April 2017

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Creating columns by example

This is a great idea, although I enjoyed mixed success when I tried it.  I've included two examples below: one which worked, and one which didn't.

This feature is meant to work like the Fill by Example feature in Excel, which has been around for a while now.

The feature working

Suppose you've imported a table of films, and you want to find in which year they were made:

Getting year for film

It should be straightforward to extract the release year from the parentheses.


So you invoke the new Column from Examples feature:

Columns from example

Here I'm using a single column, but you can get Power BI Desktop to guess how you want to combine multiple columns also.


You can now give your new column a title, and suggest entries for it:

New column

The putative new column appears on the right of your table.

You can now give the column a header, and type in one or more values (I only needed one for this example):

The sample value

For this example, one entry was enough.


Power BI Desktop guesses what you're trying to do, and fills in the rest of the column values:

The year column

Power BI Desktop has guessed my intentions.

If you select OK, you get a new column:

The new column created

Although the column formula shows up, you can't edit the transform created by double-clicking on it.

All very impressive - let's now have a look at an example where this didn't work.

In fairness, Microsoft say that they are planning on developing this over the next series of updates.

The feature not working

If you try to extract the film name for the above example, this is what you get after typing in one example:

The year name

Some film names are there, but some include the year still.


If you type in a second value, Power BI Desktop gives up:

Film names not completing

You would think that there was enough information to go on now ...

And so it continues - I tried typing the first five film names in, then gave up.

This is implemented in a really nice way, and for examples where it works will be very useful.

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