Microsoft Power BI team released a new custom visual last week (Oct 26) – The Infographic Designer.
You can download the custom visual here.
The best resource to learn about the new custom visual is relatively hidden. You might have missed it. I had to download the sample file, and then go to the Hint page to find the link to this resource. You can find there useful tutorials, guides and videos that are crucial to master this tool.
The Infographic Designer custom visual was developed by a team at Microsoft Research (Extremely smart and talented people, but a different team, and as a result you get a new and different user experience inside the visual.
Our goal for today was supposed to be easy – Importing our own image into the Infographic Designer column chart. Dedicated for the coming Halloween, here is a scary and meaningless Power BI report with the Infographic Designer custom visual.
Quick Tutorial – Importing an image into a bar chart
Download the official sample file from here, and open it with Power BI Desktop.
Could you guess where is the main editing UI for the visual?
It took me a while to locate the main entry point to customize the Inforgraphic Designer’s visual.
Would you like to try?
Hint: Don’t look at the More Options icon (…) on the top right corner of the visual. Don’t try scanning all the sections in Visualizations Pane. The key to the designer is hidden inside the visual’s canvas.
When I think about it now, in retrospect, I find it ironic that Microsoft called the visual Infographic Designer and not just Inforgraphics. I think that there is too much focus on the complexity of the designer, and less focus on impressive end results. I definitely got a designer, but with the current user experience, I am not sure, if I got real Inforgraphics at the end.
Move the mouse over the visual to find the mysterious pencil icon.
Once you click on the pencil icon, you will notice the small Mark Designer pane surfacing on the right side of the visual. You better maximize the visual before you try anything dangerous.
Click on the Focus Mode icon, which is highlighted below. Otherwise you will not see most of the elements in the Mark Designer pane.
After the visual is maximized, we are in a better shape. Let’s find out how to import a new image…
You can skip the next two steps. I share it as a direct feedback to Redmond to improve the experience.
So I want to import DataChant logo, and use it in the columns of the visual.
First step was to click the Insert Shape button, and then I clicked Upload.
From here I was supposed to select the image, but was disappointed to find that I can only import SVG files (remind me what are SVG files. Do you know any business analysts who have SVG files? Come on guys!).
Fortunately I wasn’t ready to quit, and I found the Insert Image icon.
After clicking the Insert Image, go straight to the Upload command (that is barely seen), and click on it.
Click on the selected image, and then click Open.
You will now see a tiny version of your image. Click on it again (Is this step really necessary? I already selected the image on the previous step. Why should I select it again? And by the way, thank you for reminding me I need reading glasses. The icon size is perfect).
The result is not rewarding, as the image is stretched out, and make the entire visual ugly. At this point I usually turn angry… but please don’t let me affect you. You can turn on Multiple Units in the Format section below.
You can also turn on Keep Ratio, otherwise the will still be lose its proportions.
And finally, we have our image inside the bars.
Now we can go to the Visualizations pane, click the Format tab and change the visual type from Bar to Column.
To remove the previous shapes, you can click on the highlighted drop down menu, select the specific shapes and click on trash bin icon (Delete element).
If you want to use the same image on multiple visuals, you’ll need to import it again 🙁
It is not available in the Insert image box.
The main take you should get from this blog post is that you can learn more about the visual here. I am sure that some of you will find it absolutely useful.
For example, here are two useful features (found by @IdanExcelando) which are not specific to Infographics, and could have been awesome built-in features for other charts).
Row and Column Multiples:
For the those of you, who stumbled upon this visual for the first time, I hope that I helped you to find the visual’s entry point faster. The rest are just my personal impressions as a feedback for Microsoft.
- Custom visuals are great, but Power BI team should find creative ways to centralize the customization of all visuals. The new Designer introduces new customization experiences which are not 100% natural to the existing Power BI experience.
- The UI of the Inforgraphics Designer can be improved.
- Have a better discoverability for the designer.
- Keep the imported images to persist across multiple visuals.
- Improve the defaults and re-align the UI to cover the main scenarios (SVG files should not be first choice for upload. Images should keep their proportions by default).
- I think that the final result is not so impressive enough. Inforgraphics requires lots of artistic talent, and the designer in its current state lacks a killer feature. I would prefer to have a generic capability on all of the standard visuals to import images (Similar to the Chicklet Slicer).
- In the Custom Visual web page, please add a link to Microsoft Research page above.
- I am sure that talented people will find how to create awesome reports with this tool (with a lot of patience).
Happy Halloween 🙂