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New features in the November 2018 update of Power BI Desktop
Part two of an eight-part series of blogs

A big new update this month, including expandable row headings in matrices, copying and pasting between visuals and conditional formatting of charts (although it's what's waiting in preview which will really blow your mind).

  1. Changes introduced in the November 2018 Power BI update
  2. Expandable row headers in matrices (this blog)
  3. Conditional colours now apply to charts too
  4. Copying and pasting visuals between Power BI reports
  5. Asking related questions in the Q and A Explorer
  6. Composite models and many-to-many relationships
  7. Preview - relationship diagrams and new ways to filter
  8. Summary of features waiting in preview - November 2018

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 26 November 2018

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Expandable row headers in matrices

Power BI now lets you expand row headers, just like for an Excel pivot table:

Expanding row headers

You can click on the + symbols to expand a row's contents.

Two surprises for me with this feature: it doesn't work for column headers, and the + symbols aren't enabled by default (presumably for compatibility reasons).

When row headers are available

In order to be able to expand row headers you have to have more than one field.  Here's an example of a suitable matrix's field well:

Matrix field well

With this matrix you'll be able to expand regions to see their towns, and towns to see their shopping centres.  However, you won't be able to do a similar thing for column headers.


Expanding/collapsing using the right mouse button

Microsoft are gradually coming to rely on the right mouse button a bit more in Power BI, and it's the best way to expand/collapse rows:

Expanding selection or entire level

If you right-click on a row you can expand (or, where appropriate, collapse) by Selection, Entire level or All. See below for what the different options mean.

Here's what the first two options above would show:

Selection expand Entire level expand
Selection Entire level

Choosing All would expand not just all of the regions, but also all of their towns to show their shopping centres.

Enabling the plus and minus buttons

If you want a more graphical way to expand or collapse, enable the + / - buttons:

Plus / minus buttons

You can click on the +/- icons property at the bottom of the Row headers formatting section to enable the icons, then control their size and colour (this example is shown below).


Here's what the example above would show:

Icon colour and size

Yuk!  The default icon size and colour was much better ...


More on how expanding and collapsing rows works

Here are some more notes on how this new feature works:

Area Notes
Preserving state If you save and close a Power BI report file, Power BI will remember your expand / collapse settings and restore them when you re-open the report file.
Conditional formatting Any conditional formatting will apply only to the lowest-level of detail shown in a matrix.
Legacy software This feature doesn't work with SSAS tabular models before version 2016, or with SSAS multi-dimensional models.

To illustrate the second point, here's what we'd see for our example if we applied a rule to colour cells where the total quantity was over 50:

Colouring cells

Only the cells at shopping centre level are coloured (which is probably how you would want this to work).

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