Microsoft adds support for custom Power BI and Power Query data types in Excel

Microsoft Excel has historically accommodated simple, “two-dimensional” data such as numbers and text. However, the company began expanding the popular tool to include dynamic data via cloud-connected data types. The firm then enhanced the ability of the tool to include more than 100 new data types in partnership with Wolfram Alpha earlier this year, bringing the ability to allow for individual cells to provide more information and be updated dynamically.

Today, the company has announced more new capabilities being added to data types in Excel, letting users import Power BI data as data types in Excel or even create custom data types based on their own data. This further adds to the flexibility of the tool and helps users manipulate and analyze data without having to reference multiple tables, thanks to features such as dynamically updating data types and information cards to provide more context into data within cells.

Excel has for long had the ability to pull data from other tools and databases using connectors and the ‘Get Data’ functionality. Now, business users with a Power BI Pro plan will be able to convert cells into data types from data based in Power BI tables, enabling the ability to automatically view and fill related information from linked tables, in Excel. An example that the firm provides is that of a product code cell that can be linked to more information such as description, price, and availability made easily available through the data available in a Power BI table.

In addition to this, Excel will also be able to create user-defined data types using Power Query. Users can pull in data from desired sources such as specific databases, company websites, or more, using the Get Data menu, transform it based on their requirements, and create a custom data type. This allows for easier consumption of organization-specific data that is linked to a source and updates dynamically.

Microsoft says that the Power BI data types are available in Excel for Windows Current Channel Insiders with a Microsoft 365 subscription and an applicable Power BI Pro plan. The ability to create user-defined, custom data types using Power Query will roll out to all subscribers in the coming weeks.

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