Data Studio: Q4 2018’s best new features round-up

Data Studio has been given a lot of attention from Google over the past year. As well as finally concluding its two-year beta testing period in September 2018, the platform received 32 product updates and there are now over 500 official Data Sources available. Thanks to all the newly-launched community connectors, the platform remains infinitely extensible, too.

During the busy Christmas period it is easy for things to slip under the radar; you may have been too preoccupied with your mountain of mince pies to spot the many fantastic Data Studio updates which launched over the festive season. As such, I’ve taken the opportunity to pull together a round-up (and demonstration) of the top features added to Data Studio since its global release:

Download Report as PDF

October 3rd, 2018, with further improvements November 30th, 2018

Download Report as PDF could be a great addition for Data Studio, but the feature is currently limited by its inability to respect report filters, such as date range and dimension. The good news is that this has been acknowledged by the Data Studio team, so we will hopefully be seeing this changed soon. Until then, if you have edit permissions you can work around this limitation by updating the defaults before exporting, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of doing that it might be easier to simply screenshot and print, choosing Chrome’s option to ‘save as PDF’.

It’s not a lost cause though, since this feature has the added benefit of several additional configuration options.

Download as PDF Options

In my opinion, the most valuable option here is the ability to add a link back to the report if users want to dig deeper into the report or look at different date ranges. If confidentiality is important there is also the option to password protect the PDF. ‘Ignore custom background colours’ can reduce the noise of a report but can also lead to display issues, so be sure to double check your export.

Chart Interactions

November 2nd, 2018

My favourite feature to be added in the last quarter, Chart interactions lets you filter your reports by selecting the data you want to filter directly from charts or graphs. This feature isn’t available out of the box and will need to be enabled on the individual components you feel will benefit from it.

Give it a try yourself:

To remove the filter, you can either click on the data again or right click, then select Reset Action. This will speed up the time it takes end users to filter reports to get to the insights they need, as well as cleaning up Data Studio reports – dashboard creators that will no longer need to create countless filters across the report, since the ability to customise is instead baked into the components themselves. 

Embed external content

November 30th, 2018

First, we could embed Data Studio reports on websites, now we can embed websites in Data Studio reports. What a time we live in!

Data Studio is now becoming its own platform with the ability to embed YouTube videos, Google Drive documents (Slides, Sheets and Docs) and the ability to embed non-Google content, opening a whole new stream of possibilities in Data Studio.

The best use cases I have found involve embedding Google Drive Documents. You can have a Google Doc embedded with release notes or developer comments, Google Sheets with project timelines, or even a Google Slide with an insights deck.

There is also the ability to embed Data Studio reports within Data Studio reports. That’s right, Datastudioception. I tested this theory using the Google Merchandise Store report template:

DS gif

Unfortunately, Google has foreseen the possibility that this could cause Skynet to become self-aware and so limited the number of embedded reports to three levels deep:

recursive embedding

These new embedded features really do open up endless possibilities for what you can do with Data Studio, and it’s absolutely worth spending some R&D time exploring how it could be used to improve your own reporting structures.

Community Visualisations

December 19th, 2018

Community Visualisations aren’t fully available yet, but there are a few that have been released by the Data Studio Developer Relations team that show the potential this feature has for bridging the gap between Data Studio and other data visualisation tools. You can take a look at these on the Google Developer documents for Data Studio here.


Extract Data Sources

September 6th, 2018

This was technically released before Data Studio left beta, but it’s well worth mentioning! The “Data Studio Explorer (Labs)” tool was released in July, and it lets users explore data sources without creating a report to do so. It’s useful for understanding new data connectors.

The new ‘extract data source’ function lets you use a subset of a data source within your report, making reports load faster. Combined with Data Studio’s cached data option this should help reduce long load times, getting the user the data they need, when they need it.

In case you missed it, BigQuery now includes the ability to ‘Explore data in Data Studio’. This feature also uses the Explorer, meaning you don’t need to export the table or manipulate it in BigQuery.

Smaller Updates

There have also been some smaller features released that are deserving of an honourable mention:

For a free data visualisation tool, Data Studio is a great addition to any marketer or analysts’ toolkit. We are excited to see what will be added in 2019, we are hoping for some improved design components, ability to save graph templates and more data features to get stuck into! Why not start the new year by testing out these new features, and if you get stuck, speak to the experts.

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