3 Things: Data Analytics Highlights from April 2024

13th May 2024 . By Michael A

This month's '3 Things' blog post includes topics ranging from using Copilot to understand DAX to a new Apache Airflow release.

Read on as we highlight three things for each of the four technology areas that you should be aware of from last month.

Power BI

  • Writing and understanding DAX queries got a whole lot easier with Copilot. You can tell it what you want a DAX query to do, and it will write it for you. Similarly, if you see some DAX and want to learn what it is doing, you can ask Copilot to explain it in plain English. Learn more.

  • The Copilot Pane arrived in Power BI Desktop, and this means from there, you can ask Copilot to summarise your semantic model and accelerate your report-building progress by asking it to suggest content for a report. Learn more.

  • You can now schedule the creation and saving of reports to a OneDrive or SharePoint location. This feature will help streamline your reporting processes where snapshots of reports need to be created at regular intervals, such as weekly or monthly board packs. Learn more.

Microsoft Fabric

  • The introduction of data access roles in OneLake gives you more granular control over access. The feature is in public preview and allows you to secure data at the folder level rather than forcing you to give all-or-nothing access at the lakehouse level. Learn more.

  • The Semantic Link feature is now generally available, so if you were waiting for this status before using it in your production workloads, you have the green light now. Learn more.

  • If you are considering migrating a semantic model from Import Mode to Direct Lake, make sure you understand the implications before heading down that route. The guys over at SQLBI published an article that presents several strong arguments that Import Mode may still be the best option in many scenarios. Learn more.

Azure Data and AI

  • Microsoft Purview continues to evolve and improve rapidly to keep up with the ever-growing demands for information protection and data governance solutions. The Microsoft Purview team published a video that showcases the recently introduced data quality features. Learn more.

  • The Next-Generation Lakeview Dashboards are now generally available. The new experience includes an enhanced visualisation library and simplified configuration steps, enabling you to create and share insights more quickly. Learn more.

  • Surrogate keys play an important role in implementing star schemas (i.e. dimension models). Databricks knows this and introduced the Identity Column a while ago as a public preview feature. If you are using this feature in production workloads already or planning to, you will be happy to know that it is now generally available. Learn more.

Open-Source Analytics

  • Polars and NVIDIA combined forces to bring GPU accelerated DataFrames. This means certain workloads can benefit from a significant increase in speed. Learn more.

  • A new major release of Apache Superset, version 4.0, was released. It introduces an improved drag-and-drop experience when designing and editing dashboards and charts, and a much better 'Alerts and Reports' user experience. Learn more.

  • Apache Airflow 2.9.0 was released, which introduces dataset UI enhancements, new dataset event REST API endpoints, custom names for Dynamic Task Mapping, display names for DAGs and tasks, arbitrary task log grouping, and more. Together, these changes make Airflow to maintain its strong position as one of the best open source options for data orchestration. Learn more.

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