Power View color themes: A bane for adopting Power BI


When Power BI functionality first came out for Excel, I was very excited. I still am. I always try to use it as much as I can even to prove simple points. I promote its usage wherever I can. As a techie I find it a great tool; am very fond of it. Others however, look at it from a slightly different perspective: Something that is trivial from my point of view, but entirely the opposite from a business user.

I was recently helping out a project manager build a dashboard of metrics for a client. Data was in Excel, imported from a couple of sources, she needed it mashed up and showcased with a wow factor. This was a chance for me to impress someone with Power BI. So I got her set up with Excel 2013 and all the Power BI add-ins. Then, I taught her to shape the data using Power Query, and build a model in Power Pivot, and finally put it out on a couple of Power View sheets. It wowed her! This was exactly that she had wanted to impress the client with – something additional apart from the services we were already giving them.

She picked up from where I left off and built something that she was proud of. Here’s part of a sample dashboard, decked out and all:

Sample pie chart from dashboard
Sample pie chart from dashboard

She was sure the client would be wowed. But, this was why the client did not want it:

Legend with inappropriate colors
Legend with inappropriate colors

The issue as you can plainly see is that Power View automatically assigns colors to the data points and legends. And as you can see “Good” is depicted in red, whereas logic points out that it is “Bad” that should be depicted as such, and “Good” should be in green. And yes, this is a problem that I had not thought much about. My suggestion of changing the color theme altogether was not strong enough an argument to the said project manager, because to the client, Red meant bad, and Green meant good; and that is how they expected it to be depicted. And Power View was unable to do it, resulting in a good opportunity of having the client adopt Power BI being lost.

At least, hopefully not forever. There is a support item that is garnering votes, and is currently “Under Review”. In order to get this feature included into Power View in the future sooner, we need good souls to vote for it. Please go ahead if you think it is worth it: VOTE HERE.

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