Power BI Maps takes a leap in September update

The September Power BI update is here and Power BI Maps have got a serious set of improvements. Mapping beforehand was … ok. Points and circles, pretty much like PowerView in Excel – it served a purpose, albeit a basic one. Now in the preview features there’s a new Shape Map (which replaces the Synoptic Panel in some circumstances) and even more Geospatially exciting ArcGIS Maps.

I’m excited! Let’s dig in…

Power BI Maps – Shape Map

Shape Maps are a variation on a map that assigns an ID to a region on a map – a number of baked in maps are provided – standard geographical maps are included – and you can then assign a number to that ID. Like below, I’ve just assigned some numbers to the States on a map of our lovely country:

Power BI Maps - Shape Map

Power BI Maps – Shape Map

Now, where this gets interesting is you can create your own shape maps as long as they are in the TopoJSON format. So if you want to map out your own space, such as a store – like in our partner showcase – you can create your own shape file, add keys to it and visualise it in Power BI Maps. This is a great feature for simple heatmaps and being able to build truly personalised data visualisations.


Power BI Maps – ArcGIS Maps

This is the industrial version of the existing map capability. Using ESRI maps you can create heatmaps, point maps, clusters, all driven by geospatial coordinates. I’m not going to get too deep on the technical side, but suffice to say beautiful mapping is well and truly here:

Power BI Maps - ArcGIS Maps

Power BI Maps – ArcGIS Maps

There’s a good source of fun data here if you want to play – just remember in the data model to tag the columns Data Category as Lat / Long as appropriate otherwise the mapping won’t work.

This update brings also reference layers which add secondary data such as populations, map based selection of points to apply filters to the rest of the report and a heap of other features – Power BI Maps have taken a big leap this update!

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James is an experienced BI Professional who has been delivering solutions for clients for over a decade. He is an expert in Microsoft Business Intelligence, having written two books, presented at TechEd twice and runs a popular blog "BI Monkey".