Of all the Power BI Desktop releases in November 2019, the one I’m most thankful for is the Office modern ribbon. Why? Because as a champion of self-service business intelligence, I know that accessibility and ease of use are critical to user success.
Let me give you an example. I was recently working on some strategic analysis for a meeting. The executive assistant working on the presentation reached out to me because she wanted to ensure that the visuals were well aligned with everything else in the presentation. Instead of going back and forth getting things just right, I showed her how to edit the report in the service and use the formatting pane to adjust font, sizing, etc. We’ve been planning to get together to do the same thing in Power BI Desktop-- so the modern ribbon comes just in time for us. She is an expert in PowerPoint, and this improvement enables her to leverage her existing expertise to format data visualizations. Although I got a sneak peek at the modern ribbon, it will soon be released to everyone in the November update.
What is the modern ribbon?
We can take the simplified Office ribbon for granted as if it’s been unchanged for years. But in fact, the Office ribbon got a major upgrade over the past year. For context, here’s a video introducing the modern ribbon:
At that time, Will demoed the theme gallery and the formatting area. In less than 9 months, Microsoft has delivered this powerful tool to Power BI Desktop.
Modern Ribbon in Power BI Desktop
As of the November 2019 release, the modern ribbon is in preview. It has the same icons and layout as Office (meaning that they are optimized for high contrast and strategic use of color). The ribbon is dynamic. It adapts to each view (report view, data view, modeling view), increasing relevance and improving accessibility for report creators.
The theme gallery previewed at MBAS is included in the new ribbon, allowing users to quickly see the impact of changing the theme on the current report. These built-in themes were also refreshed recently, being optimized for accessibility and impact. One difference I noticed from Amanda's demo and Will Thompson's is that when he hovered over the themes, the visuals in the report updated to reflect the theme, but that feature does not look like it will be in the November release.
Since the ribbon is dynamic, changing with the context, clicking on a measure brings up Measure Tools. Measure Tools is a dynamic tab that enables the report editor to set name, formatting, data category, and home table without having to navigate to the Modeling View.
The ribbon can also be minimized, giving report creators more room to work.
The modern ribbon is a prerequisite for enabling users to apply Office themes to the Desktop experience (yes, including dark mode). More features are definitely planned for the Power BI ribbon (including, I believe, a full transition from the formatting pane to the ribbon!).
Many thanks to Amanda Cofsky for hosting the Triple A Event and to the Power BI Community team for giving us the opportunity to see this release ahead of time! What about you? What features would you like to see in the ribbon first?