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Thie month's Power BI update includes a new logo, on-screen help and much more!
Part five of a six-part series of blogs

There are a few good changes to Power BI Desktop this month, including a better icon and splash screen, on-canvas help (albeit pitched at too low a level) and the ability to let users tweak visuals you've published.

  1. October 2020 update of Power BI Desktop
  2. A new (and better) start-up procedure
  3. On-screen help (canvas watermarks)
  4. Personalising visuals
  5. Better recognition of Excel and JSON tables (this blog)
  6. Exporting data from a Q and A visual

We've been creating our idiosyncratic monthly blogs on Power BI updates since November 2016, and also deliver online and classroom Power BI courses.

Posted by Andy Brown on 22 October 2020

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Better recognition of Excel and JSON tables

Suppose you want to load this Excel table of data:

Excel table of shops

A simple table containing the names of supermarkets in the UK.

Previously you had 3 options:

  1. Get rid of the blank rows and columns to position the data at the top left of the worksheet.
  2. Turn the data into an Excel table (in which case Power BI would detect this on load).
  3. Use Query Editor to skip the blank rows at the top of the worksheet and delete the blank columns.

In the latest update of Power BI, you will now see this:

Automatic detection of table

Power BI automatically starts at the top left of the data.

This is good, but it's not perfect.  For example, here's another worksheet, this time containing two tables:

Two tables of data

It would be nice if Power BI could load these two tables.

Here's what you get if you try loading this:

Two tables in Power BI

Sadly, Power BI can't distinguish between the two tables.

The new version also promises to automatically flatten JSON files into tables on load (previously users had to flatten records/lists manually).  You need to enable this feature in Power BI settings to use it.  I've never loaded a JSON file into Power BI, so can't throw any more light on this!

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