If you’ve read my previous articles about Power BI, you know that Power BI has five main components: Power Query, Power Pivot, Power View, Power Q&A, and Power Map. So far all of these components were now supported in PowerBI.com website as part of your Power BI solution except Power Map! Power Map was the only component that you could use in Excel for Office 365 subscription, and it allowed you great 3D Geo-spatial visualization with ability to tell stories with videos based on animated tours. The great news today is that Power BI Desktop now supports 3D map visualization, but is that visualization same as what Power Map exactly does? Let’s find out.
3D Visualization in Power BI Desktop
I’ve heard of this features first in a session at PASS Summit 2015, and I was looking forward to see the feature be available to run some tests on it. My Particular interest was because I’ve done some interesting projects on Geo-spatial data visualization with Power Map for different clients, and I know what are their requirements in that area.
Fortunately today Microsoft Power BI team announced that 3D map feature added to Power BI through Custom Visuals. So let’s see how it looks like. For using this visual you have to download it first from Power BI Visuals Gallery:
After downloading this visual you can import it into Power BI desktop
Now you see Globe Map visual added to the visualization pane
I show my sample Pubs map demo of Power BI here with Globe and here it is;
As you see a nice 3D map showed here easily. However there is no particular options for it. it is just a 3D map! If I wanted to zoom into part of the map on a particular angle I cannot do that.
The map however is able to show two measures; one as the height of bar chart, and another one as heat map. you can see that above map shows sales amount as height, and quantity of sales as heat map.
You can not yet see Globe visual in PowerBI website, I reckon that would come very soon. but for now if you publish your report you will see this;
One specific good feature of Power BI Globe visual is that it sync simply with other visualization items in the report (it is not isolated component as Power Map) , so if you click on column chart’s specific column you will see only related part of the data for that visualized in map.
Well Power Map is much more mature in 3D Geo-Spatial visualization, you can have different layers of visualization (such as column chart and heat map, and region visualization). You can zoom into map on particular angle if you want to. You can have a play axis which is very important for story telling.
Here are some features on Power Map, and the information about either they are or not yet supported in Power BI;
Power BI team did a great step forward with adding 3D map visual in Power BI Desktop. Thank you Microsoft Power BI team because of that! It is really useful for some scenarios that users need to see visualization on 3D map. However this feature is far behind Power Map features for story telling, creating tours, play axis, and many other features. I believe that soon many of these features will be added into Power BI. So I say Power BI said hi to 3D maps, but please be quick on that Microsoft team because Power Map raised expectations of our clients to a very high level! They will be looking for same features (at least) in Power BI desktop.
A Question For You
Have you ever used Power Map or any other 3D Geo-Spatial data visualization tools? what are features of that (those) tools that you liked most? what are features that you didn’t used? What about Power Map? what are great features of this product from your (or your customers) point of view? and what needs to be added?