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A summary of the changes introduced in the September 2019 update to Power BI
Part four of a six-part series of blogs

This month sees the welcome (if belated) introduction of Excel-style custom number formats, as well as more (and easier-to-create) themes and a host of other minor improvements.

  1. New features in the September 2019 update of Power BI
  2. Custom number formats
  3. Themes are easier to create (and there are more of them)
  4. More things can be conditionally formatted (this blog)
  5. Other new features in this update
  6. Features waiting in preview as of September 2019

For a cumulative list of all of the updates to Power BI Desktop in the last few years see this blog, or have a look at the Power BI courses that we run.

Posted by Andy Brown on 20 September 2019

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More things can be conditionally formatted

Microsoft have expanded the range of properties to which you can apply conditional formatting, but they haven't made it any more obvious where this feature is available.  For example, consider the border colour of a visual:

Border colour

The border colour is fixed - it can only be set to a colour by clicking on the dropdown. True?


If you optimistically let your mouse hover over the area to the right for the Border card above, three tiny vertical dots appear, and you know you're in business:

Border colour conditional format

Not true! The conditional formatting icon was there all the time; it was just hidden.


Why on earth don't Microsoft adopt the same convention as in SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS)?

Conditional formatting

In SSRS you can clearly see where any property can be set to be dynamic.


Anyway, to get to the point ... the list of things that you can conditionally format now includes the following:

Property Notes
Alternative text The pop-up message which appears on screen readers when you linger over a visual (used to improve accessibility),
Border colour As mentioned above, the colour of the border of any visual.
Various gauge colours The target text colour, target fill colour, data label colour and callout value colour for a gauge.

An example of the new conditional formatting - setting a border colour

In this example, we'll get the border colour of the card on the right to change according to which environment you click on.  Small values will show the card border in red:

Gym sales

There were only 4,662 sales of gym equipment, so the border is red.


By contrast, large values will show the border in blue:

Pitch sales

There were 17,806 sales of pitch equipment, so the border turns blue.


To get this to work, you could set conditional formatting for the border:

Conditional formatting menu

Find and click on the three dots next to the property you want to make dynamic, and choose this menu option.

You can now set the rules that you want to apply:

Conditional formatting rules

Different thresholds will invoke different border colours.

What this shows is that just because you can apply conditional formatting to a property, this doesn't mean that you should!

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