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Two easy ways to create themes in Power BI without needing to write JSON
This blog show two ways in which you can create custom themes in Power BI without needing to learn how to write JSON: either use the built-in theme editor in Power BI, or use the theme generator from Power BI Tiips.

Posted by Sam Lowrie on 30 October 2020

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Creating themes in Power BI

Previous versions of Power BI required you to jump through several hoops to create custom themes for reports, often going so far as to create and edit JSON files: 

JSON theme

Looks like witchcraft to me!

Thankfully those dark times are for the most part behind us, and there are now two much easier ways to create themes.  Consider this example:

Need for a theme

Say you wanted to change the background colours, default colour palette and font sizes for this report.

There are two ways you can proceed: use Power BI's built in editor, or use the Theme Generator from Power BI tips

Solution 1 - Customise Power BI's Themes 

The built-in themes can be edited, but they aren't as flexible as using a JSON file focused on more general settings. To use a theme, from the Power BI ribbon's View tab choose the dropdown to the right of the preview themes:

Choosing a theme

Choose from a series of built-in themes including colour-blind safe ones.  These will change your font size, colour palettes and backgrounds.

If none of these take your fancy, click on Theme gallery to launch in a browser a list of hundreds of premade themes: 

Pre-made themes

Beware: some of these aren't free JSON downloads, but are instead adverts for consultancy companies!

Once you have chosen a starting point (or left your theme as the default one) click on Customize current theme:

Customising a theme

From here change the colour palette using the wheel, hex codes or even RGB!

The rest of the tabs allow basic colour, font size and border settings to be changed (although these are changed for all visuals and can't be specified for each type): 

Default font size

The default font size is far too small, but changing general settings will make some settings like labels too big.  Use with care!

The last two settings control the background (and wallpaper) colours, plus the filter pane colours. When finished save the changes and view your created master piece:

New theme

Wow! You can save themes as part of a Power BI Template for easy reuse.

Solution 2 - Use the PowerBI Tips Theme Generator 

For much greater flexibility create a JSON file allowing you to control the different settings. Thankfully there is an awesome tool created by PowerBI.tips that does this for you!  

Setting palette colours

Add palette colours by using the wheel, or by entering a comma-separated list of Hex codes.

The real power is the number of setting that can be changed compared to the built-in system. To change properties for all visuals click on the * icon:

Global properties

Just one section of settings has more options than the entire built-in theme generator.

Then change each individual setting of each visual by selecting it from the list below. 

Changed settings

Once a setting has changed it will be highlighted in blue.

Note that custom visuals can be changed, but this must be done manually in the JSON file.

When you've edited to your heart's content, click on the DOWNLOAD THEME button to create the JSON file. 

Downside of theme editor

The only downside is not being able to load in a theme for editing.

In Power BI select Browse for themes from the themes drop down under the View tab: 

Browse for themes

Select the Browse for themes option to look for themes you've created.

 

Find the theme you've created:

Finding a theme

Any JSON file generated can be edited on website like this one.

Once you've imported your theme your palettes, font sizes and backgrounds will all be updated. 

Sharing a theme

Once you've created a theme, share it with your colleagues either via Power BI templates or just as a JSON file.

The only things that have to be done manually are setting custom visuals, updating existing files and uploading custom fonts. For instructions on the latter check out this video by Guy in a cube.  

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