New features introduced in the May 2019 update of Power BI
Part two of a six-part series of blogs

There's not much new in this month's update. The Performance Analyzer is a great idea, for working out which bits of your report are running slowly, but all of the other changes are minor (as you'll see if you read this blog!).

  1. Changes to Power BI in the May 2019 Update
  2. Analysing the speed of Power BI reports (this blog)
  3. Speeding up reports
  4. Small changes for line chart and KPI labels
  5. Improvements to geolocation in ArcGIS Maps
  6. Features currently in preview for Power BI

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

Posted by Andy Brown on 20 May 2019

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Analysing the speed of Power BI reports

Someone has obviously been complaining about the execution speed of Power BI reports!  The biggest change this month is a feature allowing you to see how quickly they run:

Performance Analyzer

The new Performance Analyzer tab allows you to see which parts of your report are making it run slowly.

Personally, I've never had a problem with Power BI reports running slowly.  But if Microsoft could speed up the load time for Power BI itself, that would be most welcome ...

Showing the Performance Analyzer tab

You can display the tab for analysing your report's speed as follows:

Displaying performance analyzer

Click on the tick box shown above to use this new Power BI feature.

You can then time each part of your report as follows:

Start recording Refresh visuals
Start recording ... ... then refresh your report.

Analysing the results

Here's the report I'm analyzing:

Sample report

The report contains a card and slicer at the top, a table and chart on the left and a map on the right.

The slowest part of the report by some way is the map on the right (no great surprise there):

Map speed

You can expand the map to show the speed of each stage of its creation.

 

This shows that getting the data for the map wasn't a problem, and nor was displaying the visual - it was the usual culprit Other which slowed things down:

Other category

Hovering over Other shows what it represents. In this case the problem is almost certainly caused by sending data to MapBox, and waiting for it to respond.

Copying the query used

One other new feature - you can copy the query used by Microsoft for timing the report:

Copying query

Click on the icon above to copy the query used.

 

Here's what you get for the above example:

DAX query analysing results

The DAX query used by Microsoft for analysing performance results.

Is this of any use?  I know DAX reasonably well, I'd hope, but still can't quite see what it's doing - but more to the point, I don't need to (the performance analyzer is easy to use and transparent in its own right).

Kudos to Microsoft

I'm impressed by this new tool.  In so many programming languages and applications timing stages is a non-trivial task (SQL Server Management Studio provides a good example of how not to make query analysis straightforward). 

Performance Analyzer window

By contrast, Microsoft have clearly put a great deal of work into making this tool easy to understand and use.

 

Here at Wise Owl our reports don't access enough data to make execution speed a problem, but I'm sure this new tool will be of great use to some of our clients. 

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