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Power BI Desktop Update – September 2017

Hi everyone, good to see you again for this month’s exciting new Power BI Desktop release (update September 2017). With this release comes some very welcome additions, some of which I personally have been waiting for a while.

So let’s jump right in to see what they’ve given us Power BI fanatics in the update September 2017!!


  1. Drill-through to another report page
  2. Explain the increase/decrease insights (preview)
  3. Ribbon chart
  4. Theming preview update – chart style controls
  5. Accessibility improvements
    • Accessible See data
    • Keyboard shortcut helper dialog
  6. High density scatter chart sampling
  7. Cartesian gridline style control
  8. New community visuals
    • Visio visual (preview)
    • Calendar by Tallan
    • Enlighten Aquarium
    • Impact Bubble Chart

Data connectivity

  1. Azure Consumption Insights Connector
  2. Improvements to the Dynamics 365 for Financials connector


For this blog, we’ll focus only on the following:


  1. Drill-through to another report page
  2. Explain the increase/decrease insights (preview)
  3. Ribbon chart
  4. Theming preview update – chart style controls

Let’s dig deeper to see how these new features work.


Reporting: 1. Drill-through to another report page

Drill-through filters: This feature allow you to create a page in your report that provides details on a single category or entity. Looking at the Data Bear Sales Demonstration, these could be for example Item Categories, Stores, Sales Persons, Products, or Locations. We start off by using any of these points and create a Drill-through connection between a data point referring to that ‘entity’ column and the page where the drill-through matched the filter context.

Below I have our ‘Sales Overview’ and ‘Sales Growth Analysis’ dashboards. I want to be able to drill through from the Category chart and view the selected category’s Prior Year Sales Growth, available from my newly created dashboard called ‘Sales Growth Analysis’. This dashboard shows the Prior Year Sales Growth by Sales Person, Category, Customer and Store.


sales overview


sales growth


To create a drill-through page, start by creating a drill-through filter on the page where you want the filer context applied. In our case let’s add to the ‘Drillthrough filters’ field on the ‘Sales Growth Analysis’ report the ‘Item Category’ column. Click anywhere on the canvas (not a chart) to see the ‘Drillthrough filters’ field.

drill through filter

Once the ‘Item Category’ field has been dropped in, notice that two things happened, it has added a ‘Item Category’ filter context to your report, and it has created a ‘Back Button’. You’ll notice when the button is selected, that it gives you some formatting options, where you can change the Fill, rotation, line, title, background etc. You can even choose your own button!! I formatted my button with a grey fill (This button makes me happy – I love buttons).

drill through filter 2

Now this is where the action happens….let’s go back to our ‘Sales Overview’ report and follow these steps to apply and drill-through one of the categories.

drill through filter 3

  1. Right Click on the category you would like to use the Drillthrough filter for, let’s right click on ‘Accessories Package’.
  2. See the Drillthrough option from the pop-up and hover your pointer over it.
  3. You’ll now see the filter context we created which points to the ‘Sales Growth Analysis’ Report – click on it!!

drill through filter 4

How cool is that?! We can now see our ‘Sales Growth Analysis’ dashboard, filtered by our Category context for ‘Accessories Package’.

Here is the best part: If you’re anything like me, you now don’t have to scroll through numerous reports to try find the ‘Sales Overview’ report again.  Use your nifty little ‘Back Button’ and use ‘Ctrl’ + Click to instantly go back to where you were and select a new category for deeper insight – yeah oh yeah, simple but a very welcome function for me. But wait, there is more – for any other dashboard where you have the ‘Item Category’ on a chart or table, you can use the Drillthrough we just created with any of them as well.


Reporting: 2. Explain the increase/decrease insights (preview)

This feature is really cool, reminds me of the custom visual ‘Narratives for Power BI’, now only built in as a preview feature. It let’s you select a point on any line or bar chart (not combo charts) and provides insights on why the data point has either increased or decreased compared to the point before it. Let’s see how this is done.

Using the Data Bear Sales Analysis Demo, let’s look at the Year by Year Sales Trends and follow the steps to gain the necessary insights:

  1. Right click on the data point – let’s see what has happened in July.
  2. From the pop-up box, hover your mouse over ‘Analyse’.
  3. An option will appear called ‘Explain the increase’ (this is quite intuitive as if I had to select the point in June this option would say ‘Explain the decrease’ – nice!!)


At this point the Insights machine runs learning algorithms over the data and populate a fly-out with charts showing what categories most influenced this increase or decrease. Use the scroll bar to view the different insights provided by the algorithm.

insights 2

You’ll notice that you are able to do a number of things here – you can view the insights of the results in different ways using the ‘chart-switcher’ at the bottom of the chart. I’ve made an extraction of all the different views to see which types are available. Hover over any of the data points to see more detail.

insights 3

If you find an insight which you really think adds allot of value, click on the plus sign on the top right of the insights chart to add the chart to your report. Because this feature is in preview, also use the thumbs up / down hands to provide feedback and improve this awesome feature.

insights 4


Reporting: 3. Ribbon chart

Oh I just love new visuals from update September 2017, and one of the visuals that are often used in business are the top and bottom rank of a chosen data field.

This new Ribbon chart visual is aimed at showing rank change. The visual is like a stacked column chart, but each column’s inner categories are sorted according to their rank for that column. Additionally, the inner categories are connected by ribbons across the columns to help you visually see how the rank changes across the columns.

Let’s create our own…..


  1. Select the ‘Ribbon chart’ visual from the ‘Visualizations’ pane.
  2. From the ‘Calendar’ table, lets drag and drop the ‘Date’ column onto the ‘Axis’ field.
  3. From the ‘Sales Measures’ table, lets drag and drop ‘Sales’ measure into the ‘Value’ field.
  4. From the ‘Sales’ table, lets drag and drop the ‘ITEMNAME’ (Product Name) column onto the ‘Legend’ field.
  5. Use the ‘Expand all down one level in the hierarchy’ to drill-down into the date until you reach the required level (in our case Year/Quarter/Month)
  6. From the ‘Format’ pane under ‘X-axis’, switch ‘Concatenate labels’ off

Great, now we have a rather cool looking ribbon chart, but I think we are viewing too many products. Let’s change the visual to only show the Top 10 Products by following the steps below:

  1. Ensure you have the ‘Fields’ pane selected.
  2. With the chart selected, go to the ‘Visual level filters’ and select ‘Top N’ from the drop-down list.
  3. Type the number of top values to filter into the box, we’ll choose 10.
  4. Drag and drop the ‘Sales’ measure into the ‘By value’ field.
  5. Click ‘Apply filter’ to filter your chart.

ribbon 2

So our visual is looking great, but it’s a little busy, and some of the ribbons overlap in a way which makes it difficult to see how value rankings have changed, let’s look at some of the additional formatting options.

All ribbon formatting options can be found by clicking on the formatting pane (the one that looks like a paint brush), and clicking on ‘Ribbon’.

Spacing: You can use this option to set a percentage of the column’s max height as the gap width between the ribbons. By default, there is no spacing. We’ll set ours to 20 – hey look at that, we can see all products separately – nice!!!

ribbon spacing

Match series color: By default, we will color the ribbons to match the category’s color, but you can turn this off and the ribbons will be grey in color. Nifty feature, the grey and color combinations make it easy to spot the ranking movements.

ribbon series color


Transparency: You can control the transparency of the ribbon’s color. By default, it is set to 30. So even with color, a little transparency can make the movement pop out visually.

ribbon transparency


Border: By default, the ribbons don’t have a border, but you can turn borders on. Even better visually……….

ribbon border

As you can see, this new Ribbon visual brings some very colorful and beautiful insights to our businesses – a real win-win in my books.


Reporting: 4. Theming preview update – chart style controls

March 2017 was the first time we saw Power BI release the first iteration of the report theming feature. As always Power BI listens to their users and in this update September 2017, they extend the theme file format to include full control over your chart styling – Awesomeness!!!

This means you can do things like…

  • Set all your charts to use size 14 font
  • Set your matrix values to use Calibri font
  • Turn data labels on for specific charts

Whereas with the March update, theming was limited to a few formatting variables, but with the new update of this feature – the power is in the hands of the user. Users can now can create one theme file with all their favorite chart formatting features on and almost never have to touch the formatting pane again! Yeeeeehaaaaaa!!! A real time saver…..and time is money!!

To use this extension to theming, you can add a visualStyles section to your JSON file. Inside the visualStyles section you can define the default setting for each visual type’s settings. The format looks like this:

visualStyles: {

visualName: {

styleName: {

cardName: [{

propertyName: propertyValue






For the visualName and cardName sections, you can either list a specific visual and cardName or using a “*” if you want the setting to apply to all visuals or all the cards that could contain this property for a specific visual. This is useful for things like font family or size that you may want to apply to all chart on your report.

Here is a default theme you can test out.


“name”: “Civic”,

“dataColors”: [“#D16349”, “#CCB400”, “#8CADAE”, “#8C7B70”, “#8FB08C”,

“#D19049”, “#D1A649”, “#81CC00”, “#8C9DAE”, “#8C8870”, “#8CB09A”, “#CFD149”],


“foreground”: “#D16349”,

“tableAccent”: “#CCB400”,

“visualStyles”: {

“*”: {

“*”: {

“*”: [{

“color”: { “solid”: { “color”: “#00FF00”}},

“fontFamily”: “Calibri, Arial, Times”


“labels”: [{

“color”: { “solid”: { “color”: “#0F00F0”}},

“fontSize”: 15,

“labelDisplayUnits”: 1,

“labelOrientation”: “vertical”,

“labelPosition”: “OutsideEnd”,

“labelPrecision”: 3,

“show”: true


“categoryLabels”: [{

“fontSize”: 15


“dataPoint”: [{

“defaultCategoryColor”: {“solid”: {“color”: “#990587”}},

“showAllDataPoints”: false




“columnChart”: {

“*”: {

“dataPoint”: [{

“defaultCategoryColor”: {“solid”: {“color”: “#F00F00”}}







If you don’t define a default setting in your theme, it will use Power BI’s default. This means you only need to define the defaults for the formatting settings you care about. For all the specifics the exact theme definition, you can read Power BI’s documentation. Also remember to check out the Power BI Theming Gallery over HERE. Also check out the detail Power BI post on using reporting themes over HERE.

And that’s it folks!! This is an exciting update September 2017 and are bound to make a huge difference in the lives of Power BI Developers and Businesses alike.

For a review of the other updates, you can go HERE to see the remainder of the Power BI updates, all equally exciting!!

Remember we have many other blog posts on our page here and we also offer great training.

So until next time, keep safe and stay blessed!!!

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