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Power BI – Keeping it Simple

You know the scenario – you throw some visualisations together and publish a proof of concept. People love it, and start filling up your backlog. You quickly add new features accordingly, and before you know it you’ve an unintelligible mass of pages, charts, tables, filters, maps, and text boxes; the ‘love’ turns out to be a one-night-stand.

I’m wondering if anyone can share how they’ve been able to innovate in Power BI, adding features without complicating the interface, or better yet making it more concise? I’ve a couple of goodies to share myself… ?

Table filters

Many-a-time I’ve added a table to a report, then filter visualisations that duplicate at least some of the table headers. Why not convert the table headers into filters? Following the steps below, we were able to achieve the desired outcome:

  1. In the table formatting tab, ensure the column headers are as small as possible and hidden using font DIN, 8pt, and white
  2. Add the ‘SmartFilter by OKVIZ’ custom visualisation to your report, then add one of these above a table column you want to add the filter to. Drag the query field your table column uses into the visualisation data field
  3. In the visualisation formatting tab under ‘General’ ensure ‘maintain layer order’ is off
  4. Under ‘Labels & Presentation’, enter the column header name
  5. On the report’s ‘format’ tab (at the top), send the filter to the back of the report
  6. I also added a column to my query concatenating various text fields to enable the ‘Text search’ visualisation, which I added above the ‘description’ column in my report

Image of how you might get that working:

A picture tells a thousand words

Sometimes our interfaces can get clogged up with text when an image or simply a background colour could get a message across more effectively – as well as make the interface more aesthetically pleasing. Fortunately, Power BI offers a variety of ways to get images into reports, as well as providing some out of the box icon sets.

What are the options, and how do we implement them? Guidance on implementing the ones I’ve found useful here…:

Expand available information exponentially with a ‘ToolTips’ page

Rather than cram information into a table, Power BI’s ‘ToolTips’ feature allows us to incorporate rich information about an item in a visualisation into a ‘tooltip’ that appears when users hover over the item, as in the image below.

To create one based on another page, add a new, hidden page to your report and under the page formatting/page information section toggle ‘tooltip’ on. Add any visualisations you like to this this page, then in the visualisation where you want this tooltip to appear, under formatting toggle ‘tooltip’ on and select the tool tip page you created.

End result could be something like this, with the tooltip page appearing when you hover over values in each row…

Further guidance on implementing this is available:

This feature is distinct from the default tooltips feature, which can be customised using the guidance here:

Have you got any suggestions for improving the succinctness of your Power BI reports? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment…

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