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A run-through the new features in the August update of Power BI Desktop
Part three of a nine-part series of blogs

This is a bigger update than most, largely because it includes two major new features emerging from preview (report themes and desktop Q&A), but it's the export to PDF feature which really catches the eye.

  1. New features in the August 2018 update of Power BI
  2. Exporting a report to PDF
  3. Report Themes (this blog)
  4. Q and A improved and incorporated within Power BI Desktop
  5. Conditional formatting by field values
  6. Bookmark groups
  7. Showing slicer choices in the header - filter restatement
  8. Ability to change the categories of measures
  9. Summary of features still waiting in preview

For a cumulative list of all of the updates to Power BI Desktop since November 2016 see this blog, or have a look at the Power BI courses that we run.

Posted by Andy Brown on 14 August 2018

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Report Themes

These have been waiting in preview for a fair while now, but Microsoft are obviously happy enough now to release them into the wild.  Here's what a theme can do for a report:

Default theme Custom theme
Default theme Custom theme

This blog isn't meant to be a tutorial, but it should explain what themes are, and how to start using them.

Creating a theme

A theme is a JSON file.  If you're not sure what these look like, here's the theme used for the right-hand report above:


"name": "Wise Owl",

"dataColors": ["#FFF080","#F9E2CA", "#F5CE72", "#D5AE52", "#C49940", "#BA8A2F"],


"foreground": "#f28400",

"tableAccent": "#9de0d5"


I've applied a bit of colouring to make it easier to read.  What this does is to create 5 properties:
Property Notes
name The theme is called Wise Owl.
dataColors 6 shades of orange/brown to be applied to chart colours, expressed as hexadecimal codes.
background The default theme to be used for background colours.
foreground The default theme to be used for foreground colours (as for the title SALES ANALYSIS above).
tableAccent A colour to apply to accentuate a table or matrix (the exact property it colours depends on the formatting you've chosen).

I used an online JSON editor to create the above file, but you can type it into Notepad if you prefer!

For those (like me) who are just getting into JSON, it helps to think of it as just another way of holding database information in readable text format - like XML, in fact.

Using a theme

Once you've created a theme (and saved it as a text file), you can apply it by choosing this option from the Home tab:

Applying a theme

Choose this menu to change your theme.

Choose your saved JSON file:

Choosing a file

I'll leave it to you, gentle reader, to wonder what the other folders on my laptop are being used for!


When Microsoft has applied the theme to every page of your report, you'll see this message:

Changed theme

My theme has been imported, and everything will now look a bit orangey.

Applying a theme changes the colours of formatting properties - here are the data colours for one of the charts in my report after applying my theme:

Changed colours from theme

The new colours  for one of my charts after applying the theme.


When choosing a new colour, you get a palette based on the colours in your theme:

Theme palette

Lots of orange and brown!


You can also set a theme which targets an individual visual's formatting (so it could change the background colour of a KPI, say, but not alter anything else), but this is a bit beyond the scope of this humble blog.

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