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Power BI offers a range of beautiful visuals that help you present your data in an attractive way. Sometimes, this may lead to a choice overload: which visual fits your purpose best?

In this blog post, I’ll take a closer look at the Maps visuals. There are 4 options to choose from (5 if you count ArcGIS):

  • Map
  • Filled Map
  • Shape Map
  • Azure Map

It’s possible that you haven’t seen the last two in your Power BI Desktop environment. This is because they only appear when you turn on Preview Features in Power BI. You can do this via FileOptionsand SettingsOptionsPreview Features. These features are still being developed, so they’re not visible by default, but you can try them out and use them nonetheless.

Turn on the Shapemap visual & AzureMaps visual if you’d like to give it a try.

With the Maps visual, you can create bubbles to indicate, for example, the profit you’ve made in a certain area. There’s also the FilledMap, which accurately indicates where an area is located and adds colours to give additional information.

Here’s an example of a Maps visual:

And this is what a Filled Map looks like:

I used to only work with these two options, but frequently encountered obstacles with them.
For example: how do you properly visualise bubbles for low values on the Maps visual? I hardly saw any difference between a bubble representing a 0.5 and a bubble representing 1, even though the value is supposed to be double.

Sometimes, customers will ask me questions that make me want to add my own maps in Power BI, like sewer maps.

If you’ve encountered the same issue, you’ll be glad to hear that Azure Map can help you out.

My bubble problem was quickly fixed thanks to the special settings that let you tweak the growth of your bubbles. You can even configure your own progression settings via the website cubic-bezier and import them to Power BI.

I also quickly found out how to add a layer on top of my map. In this example, you’ll see the streets in Ghent where it’s mandatory to wear a face mask.

You can even use a Traffic layer to indicate incidents, roadworks and traffic on certain routes.

You can visualise your data in bubbles, bars, cylinders or even a mix of both (bubbles and bars/cylinders).

This map visual is my favourite by far. I do want to point out one flaw: you can only adjust the Latitude and Longitude, not the Location (Country, Region, City, etc.).To top it off, there are lots of fun settings to play with if you want to add 3D features to your map:

  • Let the bubbles scale along or stay the same size when you zoom in.
  • Display bars on top of or behind city names – or even behind road lines.
  • Choose the tilt of your world map and the way it’s displayed (one image or infinitely panning on wider screens).

Of course, not all of us know the coordinates of the city we’re in by heart, but you can easily let Power Query fill out these values for you. There are several ways to do this. Would you like to learn how in our next blog post? Be sure to leave a comment and let us know!

Have you been looking for a new way to visualise maps? Try the Azure Maps visual.

If you’re looking for a Power BI training, be sure to look at the range of trainings Xylos offers.

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