With the October release of Power BI Desktop, users have the ability to leverage 2 really cool features: Bookmarks and the Selection Pane. With bookmarks, you can create a custom/modified view of your report and save a version of that state, allowing you to go back to that view either through a PowerPoint-like presentation, or through a Link action for a shape or image. The Selection Pane lists out all the objects on the report page and allows you to show/hide visuals. This is useful when you have many overlapping objects in your report and want to focus on a specific chart/visual. It’s also very useful when combining it with the bookmarks feature to create an app-like interface in your report.
A good scenario in which bookmarks can be useful is when needing to add information or instructions on your report so that users can better understand and leverage your report. The real estate on your report can get really crowded if you start adding descriptions to all of your visuals, and after some time users may not even need to look at those descriptions anymore. So, it would be good to provide them with an option to show/hide those descriptions as needed. Check out the report below to see an example in action (click on the icon on the top-right section):
Check out the steps below for a step by step guide on how to create the show/hide functionality in the report.
Enable the bookmarks preview
First, you will need to make sure that the Bookmarks feature has been enabled in Power BI Desktop. To enable it, select File > Options and Settings > Options > Preview Features, then select the checkbox beside Bookmarks. You’ll need to restart Power BI Desktop after you make the selection.
Add an image to toggle “View more Info” on/off
For this demo I’m using a sample dataset from the City of Houston showing metrics for 311 calls. Because I have quite a few metrics and visuals on my page, I want to add a “View more Info” button that guides users on how to use the report.
I downloaded an info icon from the web and created 2 copies of it, one that’s black and one that’s gray (easy to change the color in Paint). I wanted two colors so that it simulates an action button in an application that changes colors once it’s clicked on.
I then imported both images to the Power BI report and added a “View More Info” text underneath
Create a bookmark for View More Info display
Next, I created a new bookmark which will be used to display the information text boxes in my report. To add a bookmark, select the View ribbon, and then select the box for Bookmarks Pane. This will display the bookmarks pane on the right-hand section of the report.
Add text boxes to report and update bookmark
With the new bookmark created, I added several text boxes with descriptions to different parts of my report, and included some arrow shapes as well. I also only want to show one version of my info icon, so I lined them up and hid the black one. To hide the image icon I opened the selection pane and hid the image.
Once finished, I clicked on the ellipsis next to my new bookmark and selected Update. I also renamed the bookmark to “View Info” by clicking on the ellipsis again and selecting Rename.
Create “Home” bookmark
With the View Info bookmark created, I now needed a default view that showed the report without any of the description text boxes. To do this, I added a new bookmark and renamed it “Home.” With the Home bookmark selected, I hid all the text boxes and gray Info icon, and added the visibility to the black Info icon. Once done, I clicked on the ellipsis next to “Home” and selected Update.
Now if I toggle between the Home and the View Info bookmarks I can see the text boxes show and hide, and the color of my Info icon change.
Add Link to images
The last piece to add is the link functionality so that users can toggle the View Info on and off. This is done by adding a link to each of the Info icons. With the black Info icon selected, I enabled Link in the Format Image pane, selected Bookmark for Type, and View Info for Bookmark.
For the gray Info icon, I did the reverse, adding a link to the Home bookmark.
Limitations and Considerations
A few things to note about the bookmarks functionality:
- The toggle functionality will not work in a Dashboard in the Power BI service, only when viewing the Report.
- Be careful with adding a lot of visualizations on the same page, as this may hinder performance rendering the report. Instead look at creating a second page and tying the bookmark to that page.
- Custom visuals do not work with bookmarking if they are the source of the filter. If you are using custom visuals to filter elements on a page (for example, the chiclet slicer) and return to that page using a bookmark, the page may be filtered but the custom visual won’t be updated to show how the page is being filtered.
- Cross-highlighting status for a report pane is not saved when you create a bookmark.
- If you add a visual on a report page after creating a bookmark, the visual will be displayed in its default state. This also means that if you introduce a slicer into a page where you previously created bookmarks, the slicer will behave in its default state.
- Moving around visuals after a bookmark has been created will be reflected in the bookmark. However, toggling the visibility of a visual will not. You will need to manually update the bookmark to reflect the changes.
- You must have at least one bookmark in your report, when you publish it to the Power BI service, in order for bookmarks to be available in the service. This is a requirement for each report you publish
The Bookmarks and Selection Pane features in Power BI are really powerful enhancements that enable you to create more interactive and interesting reports. This post highlighted a use case scenario in which we can show/hide more information in our report in order to maximize our real estate while also providing more context around our visuals. I think we will see many other creative ways to leverage these features as more users begin to experiment with it. Let me know what you think!