These past couple of years I’ve worked extensively with Microsoft Power BI, which in many ways is “the next Excel”, but because it is much more recent, it still has a lot of polish to gain before it gets there. Here are some of the features I hope Microsoft will add or improve to make authors more productive in daily, repetitive tasks, and chase done friction wherever things get in the way:
- Add column profiling to headers in Data view. Right now you need to go in the Power Query window to see data profiling.
- Support calculation groups in Power BI Pro. This feature is currently planned for Analysis Services and Power BI Premium, and will cut drastically into the number of DAX measures that need to be written.
- Organizing Measures into Categories/Folders. This is now supported from the modeling view (“display folders”) but the implementation is fairly clunky. This should be easier and available from the main Report view. Which leads us to:
- Measure Management & DAX Editor. Excellent mockup from user DaveG here. At the very least we need a Measure Dependency View.
- List where a column or measure is used in a report. There’s a number of third-party tools that let you audit and improve your model, but it’s all more work than it should.
- Default measure format to comma and zero decimals. These small, simple things add up.
- Rename query steps without refreshing preview. What a waste of time for no good reason!
- Power BI Desktop – Tear Away Development Windows, a la Photoshop panels. This is good quality of life for people who use several monitors.
- Make code generated by Power Query UI less dependent on hardcoded values. Power Query is very literal and generates brittle code because it’s so specific.
- Copy/paste M queries with dependencies from desktop apps into dataflows. Power Query on the Web remains fairly basic, UI-wise, so it’s recommended to author your M code on the desktop then copy/paste to the cloud. This can be very tedious when you have many functions, parameters, intermediary tables etc.
- Add magnet-like grid behavior to tables in Model view. Frankly even the new model view sucks: it’s slow, very hard to make things look tidy, and it will rejigger things behind your back for no good reason. Very frustrating when you’re working with larger models.
- Improve the relative date slicer (and filter). It’s tedious to have to set dates manually because dynamic relative options are too limited.
- Be able to easily switch between accounts in Power BI Desktop. Make it like in O365 desktop apps.
- Add proper support for Trellis. Workarounds are too limited and tedious to use.
- Better support for keyboard shortcuts. Can’t Ctrl+PgUp/Dn to move between worksheets, come on!
For some of the more hardcore developer-centric requirements, it seems that Microsoft has decided to let external tools fill in the gaps rather than improve Power BI Desktop,