Give your Power BI end-users the help they need

Erik Hamoen
7 min readAug 29, 2023

When you’re building a Power BI report, you know all the possibilities that you’ve built in there, and during the demo for the end user, you’re happy to show them all. But what if not everybody could be at your demo? Or what if someone forgot how to interact with it the way you wanted it? It’s time to give the end-users some information when they request it.

In this blog, I’ll show you a few different techniques to create information pages inside your report, that will directly help your users. I’m a big fan of bookmarks, and in this blog, I’ll create a lot of them. Let’s start!

To create this information, I created a few shapes that will highlight where I’m pointing at, add useful information, and create two buttons to show the information and hide it again. The shape that hides the left part, is a regular shape with a fill transparency of 20%.

For the bookmarks, I use the options Display, Current page, and selected visuals. Then I select all the visuals I want to hide or show, so that’s all the shapes and buttons needed for the information page. To be complete: I hide all the shapes and buttons, select them all, and update the bookmark Hide Information Home, and I show them all, select them all, and update Show Information Home.

The bookmarks can be activated using a button. I used the ‘Information’ and the ‘Back’ icon to switch between these bookmarks. Please note that I also show or hide this button, based on the selected bookmark:

This was the first option. Now imagine if I wanted to give extra attention to the card visuals and separate attention to the graphs. That would largely increase the number of shapes. For that, It would be easier to use the second option.

PowerPoint can be used for other things than presenting. For example, creating backgrounds for your Power BI report! Or Layovers for your Power BI report!

The first thing you’ll need to do is create a screenshot of your report, and paste it into PowerPoint. And after that you can go wild with the number of shapes you want to use, to highlight what you want. My result:

But you might think: If the dataset is refreshed and the numbers change, I only see the old data from the screenshot. That’s right! So that’s why we’re going to delete the screenshot itself. We only used it to create our reference for the layover. After that, select all the shapes (Ctrl + A), right-click, and press Save as Picture.

You can now save it as a *.png, which will respect the transparency percentages and shape fills that you used. In my case: the dark parts are 20% transparent, and the green and orange shapes around the KPIs don’t have any fill. The text boxes do.

When you’re finished, go back to Power BI. Go to Insert, Image, and select the image you used exported. Set the Image style > Scaling to Fill (or fit), and make sure you remove all the Padding. Here is my result:

Before we start with our new bookmarks, please make sure the two buttons we want to use are above the image, otherwise, you can’t press the buttons:

Here’s the final result:

Now please note, that screen readers cannot read the text from the image. With that in mind, it would be better to keep the textboxes we created in PowerPoint empty and add the text in Power BI itself.

With these two examples shown, let’s create the most detailed one.

For this example, I want to recreate something you usually see when you open an app or website for the first time. You get this little tutorial that you must click through before you can really start. I never like it when you cannot close that tutorial and have to click through everything, so let’s give our users the option to do that. To prevent angry users.

For this example, we will use a different page of the report:

Creating the cover images

And again, Let’s use PowerPoint to create our layovers. For the first info icon, I put the focus on the year slicer: with three shapes I block everything except the slicer and add a callout to it. This time without text. Then I select all the items, except the picture of the report, right click, and save it as *.png.

Next, I want to put the focus on the slicer below it, where the user can choose between Balance Sheet, Net income, and Statistical accounts. I repositioned my callout shape, and created an extra rectangle to block the Year slicer:

Again, select all except the picture and save it as a *.png.

Now I want to show that you can expand the slicer and after that, that it filters the matrix. For this, I created two new screenshots:

Imagine creating all those shapes in Power BI.

And lost but not least, we go to the Year-over-year Comparison:

With all that done, we go back to Power BI and create some new bookmarks and images.

Creating the visuals

Here is the first one:

I created an image, a text box (called Information), another textbox with the indicator of how far you are with the tutorial, and two buttons to go to the previous and the next one. And as promised, a button to close the tutorial.

Now, I’ve grouped all the elements for this bookmark in one group, so I can easily copy it, but also show and hide it more easily.

Before we add any interactions to the buttons and create bookmarks, let’s create our other layouts first. This will prevent us from updating the bookmarks when we add a new layout.

When you duplicate the group, you’ll soon find out that unfortunately, it’s impossible to change the picture. So we delete the first one, insert a new one, and drop the padding to 0.

Now we must rearrange all our visuals to the correct location, change the text and we’ll be okay:

Now repeat all these steps for the other bookmarks as well. I ended up with 5 groups:

So, let’s start building our bookmarks!

Create the bookmarks

For the second, third, and fourth ones, I also need to select the slicer. Because at the second bookmark, I want the slicer to collapse, and for the third and fourth, I want it to be expanded.

When you complete all of them, create a final bookmark where all of the tutorial items are hidden. This will be our Quit tutorial bookmark.

Now it’s finally time to assign actions to our buttons. The Quit tutorial bookmark will be assigned to the Quit tutorial button (all five of them). And for the next and previous bookmark buttons, it really depends on which bookmark you’re at.

After you’re finished, you can enjoy the result:

It’s very useful to create information bookmarks if you have a large group of end users for your report. They can check the information whenever they want, which saves you some time in Teams meetings. The third example takes quite some time, but the result looks very neat. The first and section options are way faster, and already give the end users the information they need.

Take care.

Originally published at http://sidequests.blog on August 29, 2023.

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