A summary of the new features in the October 2018 update of Power BI Desktop
Part six of an eight-part series of blogs

Not an earth-shaking update, but lots of nice new features nonetheless to make your life easier, including a better DAX editor, the ability to search for text when filtering a visual and a clever new connector which guesses what you want to import from a website.

  1. Changes introduced in the October 2018 Power BI update
  2. Changes to the DAX editor
  3. Filters are now searchable
  4. Explaining why an increase or decrease has happened
  5. Controlling exporting of data
  6. The Web by Example connector (this blog)
  7. Other changes in the October 2018 update
  8. Features awaiting in preview as of October 2018

For a cumulative list of all of the updates to Power BI Desktop in the last few year or two, see this blog, or have a look at the Power BI courses that we run.

Posted by Andy Brown on 19 October 2018

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The Web by Example connector

This has now emerged from preview.  The idea is that sometimes when you're loading data from a website it isn't in a neat form.  Let's use as an example our Power BI Introduction course web page.  Parts of this contain neat tables:

Table of courses

This table of course dates is well-structured, and will be easy for Power BI to find and load.

For well-structured tables like these, you just click on the table:

Importing a table

Just tick the table you want to import.

However, what happens if the data you want to load isn't so neatly structured?

Course contents headings

Suppose that you want to load the titles from each of our course topics?

Web by Example is similar to the excellent Query Editor feature Column by Example - it allows you to give hints to Power BI of what you're trying to do, and let it guess the rule.  For the example above, you could start by invoking the feature:

Add table using examples

While loading data from a website, click on this button (I'm not sure why it's so unobtrusively placed, at the bottom left of the dialog box).

 

Scroll down the web page to remind yourself of what it contains, and (for this case) type in the first course section title:

Course section title

Power BI will give you a long, long list of all of the bits of text on the entire web page, but as you type this will gradually get smaller and more useful.

The next heading is Data sources, so type that in:

Web by example 2

Type in the next section heading (again the autocompletion list will gradually get smaller and more useful as you type in more letters).

 

You've now given Power BI Desktop enough information:

Complete list of topics

It's not quite as magical as it seems - the algorithm uses CSS classes and styles to guess which elements belong together.

 

Here's what you get when you load this data:

First column of data

Disappointingly, the algorithm only loads the first column of topic titles in this case.

 

Obviously you could then change the column heading and table name:

Table and column name

The table and column name as they appear to begin with.

 

Clearly the underlying algorithm for this new feature will only work well if a website is structured, but for some people I'm sure Web by Example will be a life-changer!

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