Deneb 1.6 Ready for Beta Testing
We recently started the alpha testing round for Deneb 1.6, and this has now come to an end!
I’m grateful for so many people who were prepared to help provide their time to confirm how things were working and report things that weren’t. Many thanks also to these users for providing detailed overviews where possible, allowing me to reproduce issues, get to their root causes quickly, and get new alpha builds out for re-testing and validation.
As a result, we have even more performance enhancements and a much more stable handling of datasets in the debugging pane. The following people were so, so helpful in providing feedback throughout and making themselves available for questions and further testing:
- Ben Ferry
- Cristobal Salcedo Beltran
- Davide Bacci
- Fabrice Aunez
- Greg Philps
- Kerry Kolosko
- Valeria Brevlegieri
Our download count was more than just these folks, so if you tested Deneb, thank you very much for helping! Without your help, we wouldn’t have been in our current position: having a much more stable release before we move onward.
1.6 Beta Overview
As such, we can move into beta testing. We still value any help anyone can provide, as once we’re ready to submit to AppSource, it becomes tough to make incremental changes quickly. During the alpha and beta stages, we can catch things and work on them in a more iterative manner. For those who have helped in the alpha testing phase, you will be able to confirm things like making sure that your use cases continue to work and help to confirm the last-minute changes and additional polish we have added in.
Overview of Changes in 1.6
For those who missed the alpha testing, or wanted to wait until things were a bit more stable, I will be updating the documentation site for the new changes over the next couple of weeks. However, I have already provided a reasonable amount of detail in the Change Log for anyone who is looking to assist. A quick summary of the changes is as follows:
- Vega and Vega-Lite updated to latest versions.
- Spec parsing is more performant.
- UI is more responsive.
- UI framework has been upgraded, with changes to make it more maintainable going forward. Some of these are cosmetic.
- Better onboarding guide on the landing page.
- Valid templates can be imported via drag & drop or pasting from the clipboard.
- Templates can be downloaded directly rather than copying to the clipboard (dependent on your tenant admin settings; copy still available for those who can’t download).
- Debug pane UI and components replaced (including asynchronous processing of the Data tab).
- Additional predefined preview zoom levels.
- Dynamic format string support fields in the dataset (for measures and calculation groups).
- Scrollbar appearance configuration.
- Bug fixes and other performance enhancements.
We Have A New Logo and Branding!
Deneb’s original logo was always a placeholder, and I’ve long wanted something that helps create a better identity while paying homage to the Vega ecosystem it’s built upon. As such, I’m delighted to be able to thank Kerry Kolosko (via GRAFIQ Insights) for our new logo (pictured at the top of this post) and UI theming. Kerry was Deneb’s first-ever additional user; her encouragement and ability to demonstrate what someone can do with the tooling was a massive inspiration in continuing to move it forward. I’m incredibly grateful to Kerry for her continued help to inspire others and contribute to Deneb.
Overview of Additional Changes from Alpha to Beta Testing Phases
For testers who have helped with alpha testing, the beta has the following additional changes since you might have last looked:
- [feature]: Vega-Lite updated from 5.14.1 to 5.15.0
- [feature]: Updated theme colour and logos
- [fix]: Complex dataset in debugging pane causes WebView2 error (#352)
- [fix]: S&P Example Causes WebView2 Crash (#357)
- [fix]: New Visuals Result in Blank Editor (#361)
- [fix]: Editor Does Not Always Open When On Object Formatting is Enabled (#362)
- [fix]: Debug Pane Dataset Not Updating Correctly (#369)
Call for Beta Testers
Well, we’re back where I do my best to ask for your help. If you are thinking of helping with beta testing, you will be helping to make sure that the version we submit to AppSource is as good as it can be. Fixing bugs after a visual has made it to AppSource has a lengthy lead time, so anything we can identify early and fix is something that doesn’t get pushed to everyone when the new version is submitted and eventually goes live.
Here’s How You Can Help
Again (and most importantly), thank you for considering helping out!
1. Get Familiar with the Changes
2. Download the Latest Beta Build
If you need more context or information about early builds and how to work with them (and help me to fix stuff), it can be worth reading the page about Early Access Builds on Deneb’s website (or this blog post).
Beta builds are like the Standalone version in that they are disconnected from AppSource and are a different visual to the AppSource version, according to Power BI.
If you are testing a production report, it is strongly suggested that you save a copy of your workbook and work with that for testing purposes before converting a visual over to a beta build instance. This means that you don’t have to worry about reverting your existing production visual back to 1.5 and losing any functionality that may be present in 1.6.
The latest beta build is always available from the Beta Channel release in the GitHub repository. A direct link is here:
The visual is a downloadable asset at the bottom, e.g.:
Beta builds can be loaded by importing the .pbiviz file manually into your report.
Working with A Beta Build Already?
- It’s always good to check and see if a newer build is available than your current one.
- The release page will tell you when the latest beta build was made (underneath the heading).
- The file name also has the (UTC) date of the latest build, after the version number, so for example, if the file name is
BETAdeneb7E15AEF80B9E4D4F8E12924291ECE89A.184.108.40.20630921.6ea4ea8.pbiviz, the build date is 2023-09-21 (or 21st September, 2023).
- If you’re using a beta build currently and importing a newer version, any visuals on the page won’t automatically update. You can force this by navigating away from the current page and back again to make Power BI reload them.
3. Confirm All your Stuff Works
With your beta build of the visual in your report, you can swap out your existing visual by clicking on it and then changing it over to the beta version.
It is anticipated that your visual should continue to work as designed, and that you can continue to edit it as normal. Be sure to check any interactivity features, such as tooltips, cross-filtering and/or cross-highlighting. Be sure to check other things that you might normally do as part of your workflow, such as if you made a template from your visual previously, does this still work as expected?
If things aren’t as you expect, then refer below on how you can help let me know about this.
4. Confirm All the New Stuff Works
While point #3 is important, it’s also very important that all the new features work as you expect based on what you see in the Change Log.
Please test these features and enhancements, and be sure to look out for any behaviour that takes you off the happy path.
5. Report Issues (but Check First)
If you find something wrong, please don’t assume that someone else will report it. We are incredibly reliant on anyone who can help find potential issues to let us know about them so that we can find them and (hopefully) fix them. And even if someone has raised an issue, you are welcome to add your voice to it so we can get a better idea as to how important something might be to folks using Deneb.
Master Known Issues List
All being well, I will add new issues as soon as I can to here and keep this list organised, but you can check this list for whether what you’ve found is known about and if not, you can raise a new issue. Once I’ve had a look, I’ll link it to this main one. Each issue then becomes its own thread so that we can have a more targed discussion around what you’re seeing and how (or when) we can resolve. Other folks are welcome to add their voice, too.
I understand that duplicate issues can and do get raised. If multiple issues are raised for a feature but are sufficiently different, I’ll likely keep them separate but if there is significant overlap, I will likely close the latest one and direct any further discussion to the original one, just to keep things focused.
Accurately Describing Issues
If you have something to report, it’s going to be a fantastic help if you’re able to articulate the problem as much as you can, so that I can spend as little time as possible trying to contextualise it and as much time as possible working on it.
For bugs, this should include sufficient detail to help me reproduce from my end, and confirm that it’s no longer reproducible once I’ve worked on it. The following things help a lot:
- Prescribed steps to reproduce the issue.
- Expected outcome.
- Actual outcome.
- Supporting screenshots or short video.
- Specification and/or sample workbook that can reproduce exactly. If you want to attach a workbook to your GitHub issue, unfortunately .pbix files aren’t a valid type, but you can change the extension (e.g. to .zip) and this will work. I can also take workbooks in confidence if needs be, but publicly available data that can reproduce your issue is the ideal outcome for all.
For improvements, again it’s great if you can be as descriptive as possible as to how you think this should work. Again, the following should help provide you with some ideas for helping me get on your wavelength:
- User stories or short narratives.
- Mockups (taking existing screenshots and annotating them is totally fine).
I know this is asking a lot of you, but I’m honestly not sure what kind of volume to expect from users when it comes to feedback, so I may have a lot to organise and work through (and do the development on), so this detail will really help to keep things moving along.
Updates to Issues
If any issues get resolved in subsequent builds, I will provide this detail, and the associated build that will have the new changes. You can then use this as a means to compare your version and download/test an updated one.
When is Testing Done?
We’re looking at a tighter loop with beta testing, as all major issues should 🤞 be resolved. If nothing significant is discovered, we will be looking to close things off by 28th September (about a week from now). Of course, if a critical issue becomes known, we will continue until we are happy that nothing else within the current release scope is preventing us from submitting. We should have a smooth flight through AppSource submission and certification, and everyone can benefit from the latest updates.
I have said this a lot above, but thanks again to everyone who has helped with this testing. I appreciate that your time is precious and I’m grateful that you might want to be able to spend a bit of that with Deneb. I hope you like where we’re headed with the changes, and the subsequent few releases will hopefully continue improving what we can do in Power BI.
All the best,