Power BI Insights: Adding semesters; Custom icons; Naming conventions; Duplicating measures

March 18 2020

As COVID-19 roiled markets and sent many tech companies, universities and other organizations to remote work, Microsoft Power BI pros kept up the pace of information and ideas for fellow users, ranging from adding semesters to a calendar to duplicating measures and more.

Putting semesters in a Power BI calendar

Microsoft MVP Matt Allington writing in the Excelerator BI blog, has received plenty of questions over the last few months in trainings about how to add semesters to a calendar to make sense of student data. Using the AdventureWorks database, he demonstrated an approach with DAX in Power BI. He renamed the customers table to students and switched sales to enrollment by subject or territory to campus. Beginning by creating a master data table containing semester dates, he loaded the data into a Power BI workbook, propagating filters from one table to another.

While Allington typically recommends against calculated columns, for this example he encouraged other users to take advantage of calculated columns since lookup tables are often smaller and tend not to impact calculated columns as much. He rounded out the example, demonstrating a way to define measures with DAX and noted that Power Query offers an alternative approach.

Going beyond default icons

David Eldersveld, writing on DataVeld, wondered whether it is possible to extend visual icons for Power BI buttons. By default, the program provides a few different button icons such as Q&A, bookmark, blank, right or left arrow and others. The icons themselves are simply visuals that don't map directly to functions. Instead, buttons come with optional actions that define what happens when a user clicks on it. Images and shapes share the same actions as buttons. Buttons further encompass on hover, on press or default states. He wrote:

By now, you've probably guessed that there's no true way to assign a custom icon or image to a button. If you feel cheated by the following workaround, remember to vote for actual custom button icons at ideas.powerbi.com…An easy way to achieve the same effect as a custom icon is to add an Image and a Button, overlay the button on top of the Image, and then Group them together so they move and resize together.

Grouping allows the two distinct elements to function as a single object.

A look at Azure naming conventions

Writing on Cloud Administrator in Azure World, Stanislav Zhelyazkov recalled early IT resource naming after constellations or superheroes. Naming conventions emerged as servers became more numerous and specialized. When it comes to naming, he recommends against using prefix or suffix values that indicate the resource type in the name of the resource. Resource Graph can be helpful as a way to get views in Azure portal and list resources, with options to open a Resource Graph blade and make a new query.

Unfortunately, prefixes and suffixes are inconsistent for now, with different character limits and rules depending on the resource. In most cases, Zhelyazkov writes that it is best to put information about the environment, department and potentially numbers, set rules for tag names and tag values—but ensure that those rules don't apply across different clouds.

Setting a single Power BI measure to appear across multiple folders

Chris Webb explained that back in 2018 he created a detailed post about how to create nested display folders for Power BI measures. At the time, it wasn't possible to make a Power BI measure appear in two or more folders at the same time. However, Webb learned from Deepak Agarwal that that has since changed. By clicking on the model pane in Power BI Desktop, users can navigate to the Properties pane and add a list of folder names separated with semi-colons.

All folders in the list become visible in the Fields pane, with a measure appearing inside each folder. Although there's still only one measure, it gets duplicated so that it appears in multiple folders. In fact, users can even drag and drop measures.

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