Power BI Visual Interactions control what happens when a report viewer clicks on a visual to filter or highlight elements of other visuals on a report page. The default setting is to have all visual interactions enabled meaning that when you select a portion of a chart the remainder of charts are filtered which is not always a desired behavior.
We’ll explain the different types of visual interactions, and how to control the way that visuals talk to each other and explain some different use cases where visual interactions should be disabled or modified,
Let’s jump in!
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Visual Interactions in Power BI Explained
Visual interactions in Power BI allow report viewers to see how data sets relate to one another. When you click on a data point in one visual, other visuals on the report page are automatically filtered or highlighted. It’s one of Power BI’s best features by enabling more intuitive data exploration.
In the example report page above, we clicked on a date column of a Matrix visual, and the graph below it and KPI’s above it at the top of the page automatically filter and highlight to the specific date range desired. This is the default interaction that Power BI will apply to all visuals on a page.
Editing interactions in Power BI gives you control over how your visuals communicate. By default, selecting a data point in one visual will affect all others on the page. Editing these interactions lets you specify which visuals should respond and how.
When to Disable or Modify Interactions
Here a couple example use cases where you may want to modify or disable visual interactions in Power BI.
If you have a complex data model with multiple fact tables related through various dimensions. A user selects a filter on one visual, it could inadvertently apply filters across unrelated visuals due to shared dimensions. In many data models it’s common to have relationships across tables that need relationships but don’t really make sense to cross-filter on the same report page.
For example, a data model could include a dimension that categorizes products into various groups. If you have a visual showing sales over time and another showing sales by product type, clicking a point in the time series shouldn’t filter the product type visual if your intent is to always display all product types for comparison.
Modifying the interaction to ‘highlight’ instead of ‘filter’ allows the time series selection to emphasize corresponding data without eliminating the broader context of all product types.
Types of Visual Interactions in Power BI
Power BI offers three types of visual interactions: highlight, filter, and none. Highlighting allows you to emphasize related data points without filtering out others. Filtering, on the other hand, displays only the data related to the selected data point. Choosing ‘none’ means the visual will not react to selections in other visuals.
How to Edit Interactions in Power BI
To edit a visual interaction in Power BI, start by selecting a visual. Then navigate to the Format section of the Power BI Ribbon, and select Edit Interactions. Small logos will appear at the top of the other visuals on a page where you can edit the interaction settings for each one.
With a visual selected, the Format, Edit Interactions button will be visible. The Format section is not viewable until a visual is selected.
Once enabled, a new set of icons appear at the top right corner of each visual on the page. We moved some of our visuals around to make them more visible, sometimes they can overlap with other visuals making them more difficult to see.
You’ll also notice that the options are slightly different depending on which visual type is available. For example, a Card visual used to present KPI’s can only be filtered or disabled while the graph at the bottom of the page has an option to highlight along with filter.
When an option is selected, or de-selected it will be apply to the specific interaction that starts with the visual you have selected. Visual interactions are controlled visual by visual, and are set based on which visual a report viewer clicks on. Then the visual that would otherwise be filtered or highlighted has the option disabled or enabled when the action occurs.
Removing Interactions Between Two Visuals
To disable an interaction between visuals in Power BI, select a visual, launch the Edit Interactions editor from the Format section of the Ribbon, and select the small stop sign icon at the top right of the visual that you want to disable the interaction for.
The icons are fairly small, and it can be difficult to determine which selection is made. The on-object interactions are single select only. The darkest icon is the one that is currently active even though it can be difficult to immediately tell. In the image below the “None” option is selected.
With this option enabled, nothing will happen to the graph when a selection is made on the Matrix visual from the examples above.
Disabling Filtering or Highlighting Visual Interactions
Filtering and highlight are different visual interaction types. Highlighting is the most common, and will cause other selections to fade, while the related highlighting is shown. These settings are controlled on a per visual basis from the Format, Edit Interactions options in Power BI.
Here’s an Example of a visual with a highlighted interaction enabled.
Here is the same visual with a Filter Interaction enabled. You’ll notice that the other months in the dataset are no longer visible and the chart has re-centered to present a single month.
The visual interaction options of, filter, highlight, and none work on a per page basis. All visual interaction controls in this method will only apply the visuals that are presented at the same time. To modify interactions when moving between pages you will either have to modify the slicer settings or use Power BI’s drill-through features.
Power BI Visual Interactions Across Pages
Interactions in Power BI aren’t limited to a single page. Depending on the method deployed there are instances where making a selection on one page follows through to another page. However, these are not visual interactions they are typically either drill-through pages or sync’d slicers.
You can read more about setting up drill-through reports in our comprehensive guide, and learn more about Power BI’s recent feature release for left-click drill through that allows you to get closer to on visual interactions while linking to related pages.
Power BI Visuals That Do Not Support Interactions
In Power BI, most visuals are designed to be interactive, allowing users to drill down into data or view it from different perspectives. However, there are specific visuals that do not support these interactive features. If you don’t see all of the filtering or highlighting options available that you expect, don’t worry it’s not you it’s a feature of Power BI!
The following visuals do not support all interaction types.
- KPI Visuals: Designed to display key performance indicators, these visuals show data targets, current performance, and historical trends but remain static and do not respond to selections in other visuals.
- Cards: Single-number cards are used to display a crucial figure or metric and do not support interactions. They’re meant to provide at-a-glance information that remains unchanged to maintain consistent reference points.
- Gauges: Although they can show a value within a range, gauges are non-interactive and won’t change when other visuals are manipulated. They’re useful for displaying progress toward a goal but are intended to be standalone visuals.
There are also static page elements like text and images that can’t be highlighted or filtered, but if you want to toggle whether these elements are visible you can re-create a similar experience using Power BI Bookmarks.
Power BI visual interactions can be a life saver when working with reports that display different sets of data. Visual interactions work on a page-by-page basis and can be especially useful when a page is displaying information from different parts of your data model. When no relationship exists, you can run into errors or blank visuals where disabling the interaction can be beneficial, other times you may want to disable the interaction between two visuals because a relationship exists, but the highlighting or filtering doesn’t make sense in the context of your report.
When presenting data from semi-related or mostly unrelated datasets it can make sense to publish separate reports to the Power BI service and consolidate data from the reports using Power BI Dashboards or even curating the pages using Power BI Apps.