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It was announced 6 days after the end of the month, but the April 2020 update to Power BI was worth waiting for - if only for the fact that you can now select visuals by clicking and dragging with the mouse. See our take on the new features in this update in the latest in our series of monthly update blogs.
- April 2020 update to Power BI
- Three significant changes to your everyday Power BI use
- Custom theme editor (this blog)
- Other changes in the April 2020 Power BI update
- Features waiting in preview
Posted by Andy Brown on 09 May 2020
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Custom theme editor
This feature has been in preview for a while, but has now seen the light of day. If you haven't created a custom theme, you should - and it's now MUCH easier to do so.
What a theme is
This section of the theme shows that the default font will be 14 point dark brown, and the default title will be centre-justified and appear in white on a dark brown background.
If I apply this theme, this is what I get:
The title appears, by default, exactly as my theme specified.
Themes can thus save you a huge amount of time, by pre-applying a consistent look-and-feel to any report. However, editing the JSON files above is not a straightforward undertaking!
The new theme editor
Recognising that the JSON format isn't that easy to edit, Microsoft now let you edit a theme using a built-in editor. First choose the theme you want:
I've gone for one called City Park, and am about to click on the dropdown arrow to edit it.
Next, choose to customise your theme:
Choose this option to customise the theme you are currently using.
The theme editor is delightfully easy to use (but - there's always a but - it is just too limited in scope, as I'll explain towards the bottom of this page):
Here I've set titles to appear in large red Comic Sans font (which won't be a popular choice, I suspect).
Instantly my visuals change:
All visuals take the formatting of the new theme.
Saving your changes
To save your current theme (including any changes you've made to it), choose this option:
In the themes area of Power BI, choose the option shown.
You can then give your new theme a name:
I've called mine Created for update.json.
Here's what this created:
The JSON generated by my choices.
What's good and what's bad
On the plus side, the theme editor is delightfully easy to use:
If all that you want to do is to change the default colours used by visuals, for example, the theme editor is fantastic.
On the down side, it's all a bit Mickey Mouse. Here are a couple of the main limitations:
|Not many properties supported||Not only does the theme editor only support a few formatting cards, but for each of these it only supports a small range of properties. As one example, I like my titles to appear centre-aligned by default, but this isn't something I can set using the theme editor.|
|No visual-specific settings||I like my pie chart labels to appear as just the category names, and the legend to appear at the bottom, but I can't use the theme editor to make any visual-specific changes.|
My verdict is that the theme editor is great for basic Power BI users, but for anyone else it's a bit pointless, as to create a proper theme you're going to have to learn to edit JSON files and understand the syntax used anyway.