Quick Measures in Power BI Desktop

With the Power BI Desktop April 2017 release (see here), Microsoft introduced a few game changers. There are

  • Quick measures and show value as (preview)
  • Connect to datasets in the Power BI service (preview)
  • Add column by example

I’ll describe this three game changers in separate blog entries. This entry describes Quick Measures in Power BI Desktop.

What are Quick Measures in Power BI Desktop?

Until this release you had to write most of your measures in DAX. After working several years as a BI consultant, I know how to master DAX. Not as good as the Italians do, but I’m able to define measures in DAX Code and I know where to find instructions if needed.

But from an end-user perspective it was not always that easy. Even if the Italians had published several DAX patterns, an end-user had to adopt the pattern to his use case or call a consultant 😉

This has changed by today. Well not for all kind of measures, but for the most important ones. Power BI Desktop now defines the following measures itself:

Aggregates per category:

  • Average per category
  • Variance per category
  • Max per category
  • Min per category

Filters

  • Filtered value
  • Difference from filtered value
  • Percentage difference from filtered value

Time Intelligence

  • Year-to-date total
  • Quarter-to-date total
  • Month-to-date total
  • Year over year change
  • Quarter over quarter change
  • Month over month change

Running Total

  • Running total

Mathematical operations

  • Addition
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication
  • Division
  • Percentage difference

How to use Quick Measures in Power BI Desktop?

First of all, this new feature is in preview. So make sure to enable this feature and restart the application.

Enable QuickMeasures Preview

And here comes the fun. I prepared a little dataset with meaningless data. It has one account (Cash) and amounts from January 2014 until August 2016. What I need is a Running Total. I’m sure you remember the pattern. It is an easy one. Well, let’s do it without writing any code of DAX.

That’s all. Really!

With eight (8!!) clicks I defined a Running Total.

Power BI Desktop has written the whole DAX Code for me and I’m fine. Maybe I had not written the measure as Power BI Desktop did it. I had rather used a DAX pattern from the Italians. But hey, it seems to work.

And here in slow motion 😉

Quick Measure Click 1

Quick Measure Click 2

Quick Measure Click 3-4Quick Measure Click 5-7

Quick Measure Click 8

Conclusion

The April 2017 Power BI Desktop Update gives more power than ever to end-users. This doesn’t mean, that Power BI consultants are out of work. But we can focus on not so trivial things like importing data from social media, defining more complex measures etc.