January 1, 2022

Power BI Report Guides

By Spencer Baucke

Providing your users enough information about how to navigate and understand your report while maintaining a clean user interface is a common battle for report developers. Giving your users too much text and notations can come at the expense of a clean design. Not giving your users enough information and guidance can lead to confusion and limited use of your report. 

But don’t worry, in this blog I am going to show you a cool workaround in Power BI using bookmarks that will allow you to maximize your report space as well as your end users’ understanding of the report, with the help of a pop out report guide!

Step #1: Finish Report and Create PowerPoint

In order for this solution to make sense you must have your report finalized. Make sure your filters are where you want them and your formatting is all done. Now, take a screenshot of your report and open PowerPoint. Yes, PowerPoint. Paste that screenshot in there and let’s get to work!

In PowerPoint, add in all the commentary, legends, and additional context that you want your users to know about. If there are click functionalities such as filters or page navigation icons this is a great place to explain those. You can also include items such as metric definitions and data context. This page will ultimately be what your users see, so make sure to put in everything they might need to know to use the report.

When you are done adding in information about your report, choose all of the chart elements and save it as an image. 

Step #2: Add in Buttons and Image

Go to your report and add in a button, shape, or image that your users will use to make the report guide appear. Place this button in an area that fits with your report’s design. Most often for reports that I design, this is the top right hand corner. 

The whole point of this report guide is to make sure that your users are able to better understand the report they are looking at, so it only makes sense for your button to indicate that you’ll find out more about the report there. I often use the information icon (the circled i) for this purpose. 

Now that you have your button added, go ahead and add in the image that you created in PowerPoint. In the example below I made the image large to cover most of the page due to the amount of notations in the guide. Make sure that the size of your report guide matches what you are trying to communicate. 

Make sure to add in a button that will be your Exit or Back button to close the report guide. Place this on top of the report guide image and make sure that it is brought to the front so that it will be available once your report guide is showing. 

Now that you have added in both command buttons and the report guide image we need to set up the bookmarks that will make this pop out on command. 

Step #3: Set Up Bookmarks

Start by going to the View ribbon and opening up the Bookmarks and Selection panes. Create two new bookmarks, one for the page showing as normal and one for the page with the report guide showing. See the two bookmarks I have created below. 

Now we are going to assign the bookmarks to show with the appropriate chart elements visible. The Selection pane is what will make this happen. In the Layer Order section, you are able to show/hide all of the different elements within your page. At this point, because your report guide image is already on the dashboard and it is visible, go to your bookmark that represents the view with the report guide, right-click and select Update. Make sure that the Visual option is checked in the pop up box. You have now assigned this view to the bookmark. 

Next, click on the bookmark that will have the report guide hidden. In the Selection pane, layer view, find all of the elements in your report guide and click on the eye icon. This should make the eye icon look crossed out. You will also notice that the report guide and its exit button are missing from report. Right-click the bookmark in the Bookmarks pane that will be the default view with no report guide and select Update. You have now assigned your desired views to your bookmarks. 

Step #4: Assign Actions to Buttons

Now that we have our views assigned to the appropriate bookmarks, we need to assign the buttons to the right views. Click on the information button that you added to the dashboard in Step #2 and turn on the Actions toggle. Select Bookmarks from the Type drop down as we want this button to guide us to a particular bookmark. In this case it’s not a different page, but a different view of our current page. 

Next, choose the bookmark that is going to show our report guide as this button will be what users click to find out more about our report. See that I have filled out the Actions section in the image to the right.

You can also add in a tooltip that will show when users hover over the information button. This is a good place to put what will show if the button is clicked. 

Once you’ve added the action, test out the functionality and see if your report guide shows. 

Finally, add in the Action for the report guide’s exit button. The type will still be Bookmark, but this time it should point to the view you created with the report guide hidden. This will ensure that you have click functionality to both the report guide showing and report guide hidden views. Now you’re ready to have your users use this fun new report feature. Try it out in my report below!

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