Welcome the new Power BI visualizations

New Visualization Types in Power BI Desktop

In the July 2015 update for Power BI Desktop there were a load of improvements to the tool including new data sources, new transformations, direct querying of SSAS Tabular Models, new Data and Relationship view, publishing directly to your Power BI site and some new visualization types.

Dashboard report built with Power BI Desktop

The new visualization types added to Power BI Desktop are the Waterfall chart, Area chart, Donut chart and Matrix and I just wanted to take a few moments to walk you through them and how I see them being used in future dashboard designs.

Donut Chart in Power BI Desktop

Donut chart built with Power BI Desktop

The donut visualization is new in the July release of the Power BI Desktop. Obviously the donut chart visualization is very similar to the pie chart. One of the weaknesses with a pie chart visualization is that because of the angles in the visualization its often difficult to make comparisons between the slices in the pie. This makes a pie chart not very useful. For the same reason, I think the donut chart isn’t all that useful. Maybe its marginally better than a pie chart because its easier to make a comparison between the slices in the donut chart versus the pie, but I don’t think I would willingly use the pie chart.

The whole point of a dashboard is to quickly and easily gain insights into the success or failure of the business. If you need to stare at the report trying to decide if the fifth or sixth slice is bigger, then the dashboard isn’t doing its job. There are many other visualizations i would use that would work better than the donut chart, in my humble opinion.

Area Chart in Power BI Desktop

Area chart built with Power BI Desktop

The Area visualization is similar to the good ‘ole trusty line chart, one of the staples of any dashboard. The area chart has one key difference compared to a line chart: the area below measurement line is filled in. I think this can be a good thing because the filled areas in the chart can make it easier to spot differences between lines. But the downside is that the areas can obscure one another depending on the level of transparency. I think the area chart will work best with only a couple or few lines to compare but anymore than that I’d suggest sticking with the line chart.

Matrix in Power BI Desktop

Matrix report built with Power BI Desktop

The Matrix visualization is new to the Power BI Desktop but definitely not new to Microsoft reporting. The matrix visualization doesn’t come with any formatting options but I was able to control the background color of the matrix by first using a different visualization to modify the background color and then switching to the matrix report.

Waterfall Chart in Power BI Desktop

Waterfall chart built with Power BI Desktop

I think of all the new visualization types, the waterfall chart is the most useful because of the way it allows us to see changes in values between periods or categories. In the waterfall chart above, I created a month over month growth measure for me to be able to monitor change between months. The waterfall chart only displays the change between groups on the x-axis, making it perfect for measuring growth or change metrics. The waterfall chart is definitely the most useful new visualization type included in the July 2015 update of Power BI Desktop.


Watch my video walkthrough of the new Power BI Desktop. If you’re new to Power BI, you’ll definitely want to take a look at this.

If the video isn’t for you, take a look at my blog post with the run down on the new Power BI Desktop.


What do you think of the new visualization types and the July update for Power BI Desktop? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new chart types and where you see yourself using them. Leave me a comment below.


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