Saving Space on your Power BI Reports

Maximizing Report Space: Unlocking Power BI Real Estate with Dynamic Tooltips

Happy November! In Chicago that means the lights are up and the winter holidays are here. In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d give an early gift and review one of my favorite new custom visuals for Power BI, Dynamic Tooltip by MAQ Software. Although it is very simple in nature and design, I’ve found it to be extremely useful. Anyone who actively develops reports has probably come up against the issue of real estate. What do I mean by that? Basically, you run out of room on a report page. Even if you are an adopter of the “less is more” theory, between formatting, visual design, and actual content, I often find myself wanting just a little more space. Here is an example: I create this awesome report page packed with tons of cool functionality, but my users are new to Power BI and don’t necessarily know how to use all the visuals effectively. Since I can’t sit down with all of them one-on-one, I want to provide some instructions on how to use the report and the visuals; however, that would take even more room and make everything more cluttered. I have used a couple methods to solve this problem:

  • Provide a summary or instruction page at the beginning of the report;
  • Embed a “how to” video on a dashboard;
  • Send canned email communication to users of the report;
  • And the most effective but my least favorite: a text box on the page itself with instructions for that page.

So, let’s talk about the last one for a minute (or for a paragraph to be technically accurate). I say this is the most effective because, in my experience, users are (for lack of a more professional term) lazy. The more effort users must put into getting their questions answered, the less likely they are to use the report. The more clicks they have to make, the more likely they will not use it. Asking the user to reference another page or a link is the digital equivalent of asking them to run a mile. For that reason, I like to provide the answers right there on the page. But that’s where we hit the real estate drawback. With borders and formatting, my text has potential to take up a third of the page! Enter the Dynamic Tooltip custom visual. This visual allows you to add hidden text. When a user hovers over an image, they will see your customized message. My guess is the designer of the visual piggybacked off the idea of the native tooltips that are available with every visual. Let me show you how it works. From your Power BI report click the “…” in the visuals pane and click “Import from Store.” Search for Dynamic Tooltip or sort the list alphabetically if the search doesn’t find it. Click on the visual, and then click ADD to import the new visual into your Power BI report. Once imported, the icon looks like a question mark.

Click on the newly added visual to add it to your report. Now, select a measure and add it to the Measure Data field to access the formatting options. Let’s quickly review what options you have with this visual.   Power BITooltip Section: Header: This is the area where you will enter a title for the text you want to create. For example: If I am planning to write instructions for a visual, I would put “Instructions” or “How to Use This Visual” in this box. Body: This is where you put your actual message. Using the same example as above, I would put something like, “Click the icons to see details” here. Image URL: The default is the image of a question mark. You can get a different image off the web if you like. You would put the URL here. Measure Tooltip Section: If you want to use this visual to dynamically show a measure value instead of some text, you would toggle this on. You can do one or the other, not both. Remaining Sections: These are just the standard formatting options that are available on all visuals. Once you have your message added, resize your icon and place it where you would like. Hover over the icon to see your new message. I have used this in combination with a summary report page where I let the user know that anytime they see a question mark they can hover for more information.

I know this is a very basic and simple visual, but if you struggle with fitting everything into a report, this is just one more option for you. Below is the link to the visual in the App store. Thanks for reading! And for those who celebrate, Happy Thanksgiving!