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New features in the November 2018 update of Power BI Desktop
Part three of an eight-part series of blogs

A big new update this month, including expandable row headings in matrices, copying and pasting between visuals and conditional formatting of charts (although it's what's waiting in preview which will really blow your mind).

  1. Changes introduced in the November 2018 Power BI update
  2. Expandable row headers in matrices
  3. Conditional colours now apply to charts too (this blog)
  4. Copying and pasting visuals between Power BI reports
  5. Asking related questions in the Q and A Explorer
  6. Composite models and many-to-many relationships
  7. Preview - relationship diagrams and new ways to filter
  8. Summary of features waiting in preview - November 2018

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 26 November 2018

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Conditional colours now apply to charts too

So the Color Saturation bucket has gone the way of the dodo, and been replaced by conditional formatting:

Color saturation

Remember this?  Microsoft have removed Color Saturation for charts, and instead enabled the much more powerful conditional formatting (which has been possible for tables and matrices for some time).


Applying conditional formatting

To see how this works, suppose that you want to colour the bars of this simple chart according to how many goods were sold:

Colouring columns

The 2017 bar should be the most colourful!


You can access conditional formatting from the Data colors formatting tools category:

Data colors

Expand the Data colors category, then click on Advanced controls as shown.


You can then choose one of the 3 types of formatting which have been available for tables and matrices for a while now:

Colouring options

See below for an example of each of these options.


Experienced users of conditional formatting for tables and matrices can stop reading here, as Microsoft have cleverly made all types of visual follow the same rules.

Colour scales

The Color scale option allows you to set a minimum and maximum colour, and have Power BI colour chart bars, columns, slices or bubbles automatically:

Colour scales

Here our colours will go from light to dark brown.

Here's what this chart would show:

The chart for this example

As expected, the 2017 column is the darkest.


Colouring by rules

Instead of relying on Power BI to set colours, you can control the colour thresholds by creating rules:

Colour rules

The colours are applied in 3 bands: 0 to10000, 10000 to 15000, and 15000+.

Here's what this would show for our example - eventually:

Colour by rules example

The 2017 column is again the darkest.


I say "eventually" because there is a bug with this feature which means it can initially colour the bars incorrectly.  I found if you changed the visual type, then changed it back again, then this corrected the problem.  There may well be better ways to do this, and I'm sure Microsoft will sort the problem out soon.

Using field values for colours

This method of colouring works when you have a column specifying how any data should be coloured:

Colour column

Here we'll colour centre types using what i like to call the Teletubbie palette.


Initially let's suppose we have a tree map showing average price by centre type:

Tree map example

Initially Power BI uses default colours .


Suppose we now apply this colour formatting:

Colouring by field

We'll colour each part of the chart using the value of the Colour column.

Here are the regrettable consequences:

Teletubbie colours

The map parts are coloured as requested!


This is a good approach.  If you always want your South region to be pink, for example, just add a colour column to your table of regions and set its value to Pink for the South region.

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