The Microsoft Fabric May 2024 Update Gave Us a Peek Into the Future

Microsoft Fabric May Updates

Welcome back to the second episode of Fabric Threads, a podcast we started here at Collectiv to help you better understand Microsoft Fabric so you can maximize this powerful tool.

The May Microsoft Fabric update was jam-packed, and there are way more features than I could cover in a single blog or a single video. Coming up are several new features and updates that stood out most to us that we think you should pay special attention to.

Updated Fabric Roadmap

Microsoft Fabric is constantly evolving and improving, and this month we were lucky enough to get a peek into what updates are way out on the horizon.

The last time Microsoft released a Fabric roadmap was last October at the Power Platform Community Conference. Now that all those features have been implemented, Microsoft unveiled the roadmap for the next two quarters. This includes several highly requested new features as well as enhancements to current features.

This roadmap is extremely valuable to any Fabric user since they can get advance notice about what’s coming down the road to potentially enhance your implementation. This knowledge really helps with planning.

Microsoft announced some key Power BI updates, but I’m particularly excited about the additional OneLake security updates. The updates they announced should give Fabric administrators more granular control over data access.

So whether someone’s accessing data from a Power BI report, a semantic model, a Synapse notebook, a warehouse, a lakehouse, or any other component within Fabric that’s using that data, you can control who has access to that data within OneLake. This security update gives administrators better, more wide-reaching control to lock down data.

Although this roadmap included tons of great features, there may still be some things that Fabric users still feel like they’re missing. Luckily, Microsoft is great about listening to their community, so there’s a forum called Fabric Ideas where users are able to submit their ideas to Microsoft, which the team will then take into account as they develop future roadmaps.

Matrix Visual Layouts

The matrix visual in Power BI is one of the most widely used visuals in Power BI reporting. In the May Microsoft Fabric update, they announced a change that should hopefully make it even more user-friendly.

The Fabric team has now made the matrix visual more similar to the Excel interface that many people are already familiar with. Primarily, this is done by bringing some of the standard Excel pivot table features into Power BI.

There are two main features that they’re pulling from Excel Pivot tables into Power BI Matrices, and they are:

  • Inserting blank rows
  • Report layout options

That means that you have more flexibility whether you want indentations, you want to skip rows, you want additional rows and columns, and so on. This integration of Excel-like features should boost Power BI adoption across Excel users.

This matrix visualization update is a win for any developer who uses table visuals, matrix visuals, or any tabular format reports. Some specific groups of people I can see really benefiting from this update are financial analysts and accountants.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that this Power BI matrix isn’t a one-to-one replica of the Excel pivot table. It’s just a more similar experience.

There are features in Excel that aren’t in the Power BI matrix, and there are also features in the Power BI matrix that aren’t in Excel. So developers will have to use a combination of these two tools strategically to get the end result they want.

Git Integration for Direct Lake Semantic Models

We were buzzing last month about the Git integration for Fabric warehouses, and this month we have even more good news.

Microsoft Fabric announced Git integration for Direct Lake semantic models, and it’s a really exciting update for any teams implementing Fabric and Power BI at the enterprise scale.

Traditionally, when you had a semantic model, you added a DirectQuery connection or import connection for that model.

When Fabric came out, they integrated a new connection method called Direct Lake. This was sitting on top of a lakehouse or a warehouse within Fabric. Previously there were Git integrations for your lakehouses, other semantic models, reports, and Fabric notebooks, but not for Direct Lake semantic models.

This update changes that.

This Git integration is helpful for data scientists, data engineers, and potentially data analysts as well who are managing version control and CI/CD processes for their semantic models using the new direct lake connection mode.

But there’s a common misconception that you have to be a really hardcore developer to work in Git. This isn’t true. Because the Fabric team, and Microsoft as a whole, really want Git integrations Azure DevOps to be more of a drag-and-drop interface, it should be more accessible to non-developer users and other kinds of super users throughout any organization.

Essentially, anyone who’s using Direct Lake semantic models should be able to benefit from this new Git integration.

Real-Time Hub

Also in the May Microsoft Fabric update, they announced a brand new feature that is really exciting: Real-Time hub. It’s an entirely new environment for all your event and streaming data processing needs.

Whether you’re ingesting data, transforming data, or visualizing data, Real-Time hub lets you make those connections and do all those transformations within the interface. This helps you handle the large amounts of data that are coming in all the time.

For example, when you have things like IoT devices, telemetry data is constantly flowing in, having an ETL pipeline bring that data in is very inefficient. Real-Time hub helps you process that data in real-time to make sure that you’re not misusing the resources you have available.

People are always talking about real-time reporting and real-time data access, but in reality, they don’t truly mean real-time. This update helps to actually make it a reality. With the Real-Time hub within Fabric, you can constantly grab data from your Fabric environment no matter what event or streaming device you’re gathering it from.

Any size organization and any industry can absolutely benefit from this new environment if they’re dealing with lots of real-time data.

As far as the roles that Real-Time hub will positively impact the most, it’s the data engineers, data scientists, and data analysts. There may be other super users throughout the organization that will use certain portions of this, but those three roles I just mentioned are going to use this feature to its full potential.

Copilot is Enabled for All Fabric Environments

When people think of Copilot, they usually think about using it for day-to-day tasks like drafting an email. But now, Copilot has the potential to supercharge the speed and efficiency of Fabric users’ workflows since it’s officially auto-enabled for all Fabric environments.

Previously, Copilot was released for Microsoft Fabric and Power BI, but this update enables Copilot across your organization by default. So if you have an F64 or a P1 SKU or higher, you now have automatic access to Copilot.

Of course, if you want to limit the workspaces that have access to Copilot, you do have the option to go in and manually turn it off.

There are several ways that you use Copilot to help you with your work in Fabric. Most of the best use cases within Fabric and Power BI revolve around report development and report visualization capabilities.

For example, you could ask Copilot to create a sales report by country or region within your sales territories and it will automatically generate it for you. You could also use Copilot to write DAX measures or create DAX measure descriptions.

I think that basically any user within the Fabric and Power BI interface will use Copilot in some way at some point, and the fact that it’s auto-enabled now will make it even easier to experiment with its capabilities.

Some customers are a little leery about using Copilot (or any AI tools for that matter) when it comes to data processes because they’re worried that their data may be shared outside of their organization. But this isn’t something you need to worry about.

When you license an F64 SKU—the minimum SKU within Fabric that you can actually license Copilot for—it creates a dedicated capacity. Meaning that your data is living within your tenant and prevented from leaving your tenant by any means.

Need Help Implementing One of These New Fabric Features?

If a certain feature piqued your interest but you’re a little stumped on how to implement it into your workflows—or if implementing Fabric, in general, has you feeling lost—get in touch with our Fabric experts.

And, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch Fabric Threads and stay on top of the latest Microsoft Fabric features and updates.

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