Theme is Everything Plus Other September Power BI Highlights

Don’t worry, you haven’t stumbled across an article talking about stories – at least, not in the traditional sense. While novelists often highlight the importance of theme in their writing, so too do report designers when they’re creating dashboards and finalising reports.

If you hadn’t guessed already, there are some major changes to Power BI themes that have appeared in the latest update and these are detailed below, along with a look at some other new features. However, let’s start with a truly audience-centric addition.

Improved Drill Throughs

As a report creator, if you go to the trouble of importing data into your report and deciding that an overview should be given with the capacity for drilling down further, it can be highly frustrating when your report viewer doesn’t know they can drill down. This can happen if, for example, a viewer is accessing a Power BI report for the first time or simply if they don’t think that a segment of data will have anything to drill down into.

A small yet significant change now ensures report viewers will be aware of just when there’s the possibility to drill down. Once this feature is enabled, whenever a viewer hovers over a visual, a short message appears in the data window advising users to ‘Right-click to drill through’.

This might seem like a small change, but it could drastically improve the way an audience interacts with your report, especially if they’re unfamiliar with PBI.

Declutter Visualization Pane

This is another seemingly tiny change but one that allows report creators greater control over what visuals they see as they work on their reports. What it means is that creators can unpin visuals from the visualisation pane so they’re not cluttering up the interface. If, for example, users dislike pie charts or line charts, they can click to hide them, and they’ll be hidden from future report visualisation panes. For more advanced users who are using customised versions of visualisations, it’s a way of ensuring they always use the customised one rather than the original.

Another addition to the visualisation pane is the ability to right click and see details of the source of the visualisation and what version it is. Again, this is a small change and may only be of interest to those who use plenty of customised visuals, but it’s a great source of information for dedicated PBI users.

Theme Changes

There are two major changes in relation to themes and colours in the latest PBI update. The first of these is a new default theme that, as Microsoft say, aligns better with their wider design language and fits with the best practice for visuals. They highlight the follow alterations which may well make a difference to how new users experience Power BI:

• More readable text
• Visual backgrounds on by default
• Improved layout on pie and donut charts
• More visible lines on line and combo charts

One thing to note is that the older theme is still available as the ‘Classic’ theme, so if you’re happy building your reports using the old defaults, you can still do that.

Custom theme creators are another major beneficiary of this latest update. PBI have expanded colour classes to allow creators to format colours without delving into visual styles. In theory, you can now assign colours to all the visual elements in a report by setting 6 colours. Text classes have also been added to adjust 14 text types by setting 4 primary classes. All in all, these changes make it easier for report creators to adjust report styles so everything’s in harmony with minimal effort rather than being forced to alter every colour in turn.

Conclusion – Creators Benefiting

Power BI continues to evolve for the benefit of both creators and their audiences, and that’s the only way it’s going to continue to stay relevant. Small changes, particularly the drill through guidance this month, build up to create game changing tools, in much the same way that each element of a report builds up to create something that’s informative, eye-catching and useful to the audience.

For the novice, thinking about creating reports that would use these features can be a little overwhelming and far beyond your capabilities. To learn how MSH Associates can help, get in touch today.

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