New features in the December 2017 update of Power BI Desktop
Part two of a six-part series of blogs

Field descriptions anyone? This is a fairly minor update, although we like responsive horizontal slicers, and there are some exciting things coming up in preview mode.

  1. December 2017 Updates
  2. Field descriptions (this blog)
  3. Scatter charts now compare numerical values
  4. Responsive slicers
  5. Drilling down filters all visuals for a page
  6. Undocumented new features

For a cumulative list of all of the updates to Power BI Desktop in the last few months, see this blog.  Our two-day Power BI Desktop course always uses the latest version of the software.

Posted by Andy Brown on 04 January 2018

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Field descriptions

This change should be a good idea.  Before this release, you were able to change field names:

Renaming fields

For some time now you've been able to change the name of a field by right-clicking in the field well.

 

This means that you can get better column headers:

Before renaming After renaming
Before renaming After renaming

Microsoft have now taken this a step further, and allowed you to give fields descriptions too:

Field properties

To access the field description, right-click in the list of fields on the right-hand side (and not in the field well, as you might expect). You can then choose Properties.

 

This seems wrong to me.  Microsoft have bent over backwards to avoid separate pop-up properties windows, so why give in now?

You can now rename a field, and change its properties:

Field description

Here we've selected the Quantity field, and renamed it as Sales. We've also taken the opportunity to type in a description for the field.

 

The description now appears in a tooltip when you hover over the field:

Description tooltip

You can see more details about what the field is used for.

 

However, this description doesn't show up when you hover over the field in a visualisation, so it's purely a way to show users of your data model what your fields and measures mean. 

The best use of field descriptions is to tell your users what measures that you have created do, so it's unfortunate that at the time of writing there is a bug in this feature which prevents it working.

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