Introduction: Merged Bar Chart

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Discover the patterns across multiple measures with the Merged Bar Chart

The Merged Bar Chart allows you to compare multiple categories in a single chart, as an alternative to the more complex scatterplot.

Comparing categories is a common goal of data visualisations. In some cases comparing categories on a single measure (e.g. weight per shipment) is enough. This can be done with a standard bar or column chart. However, this is often not enough. Let’s assume we need another measure (like height) to make the comparison more insightful. Now we have one category (shipment) and two independent measures (weight and height). Because these measures are expressed in different units (pounds vs. inches) we can’t combine them in a single bar/column chart. This is when the scatterplot becomes useful.

However, many people find scatterplots hard to read. And it is difficult to expand the number of measures beyond 3 or 4. This is why we created the Merged Bar Chart. This chart can show up to 6 independent measures per category in a comprehensible way. It does this by displaying each measure in it’s own bar-column and allows you to sort on any of the columns to investigate any possible relations between the measures.

Key features of the Merged Bar Chart are:

  • Format the objects: Each of the bar series can be formatted independently, and supports the theme settings;
  • The Axis formatting options are in line with the options you know from the Power BI Clustered Bar Chart, so no need to learn a new interface;
  • Selection & Highlighting: Like in standard Power BI Charts you can make use of the Selection & Highlighting functions within the Merged Bar Chart;
  • Context menu: Like in standard Power BI Charts you have access to the context menu to (amongst others) Drill down and Include/Exclude data points;
  • Full tooltip support: Besides the default Tooltip behaviour (show the value of the element you hover) you can also add additional fields to the tooltip.
  • Full Bookmark support: like any of the standard visuals the Merged Bar Chart supports Bookmarks.

How to use: Fields

Of the three fields you need to specify at least the first two fields, being: Axis and Value. The last field (Tooltips) is optional. 

  • Axis: Here you add the field(s) containing the categories you want to place on the y-axis. If you place multiple fields here you can drill through the different fields as if they were levels of a hierarchy. You can also use any hierarchy you already have in your data set;
  • Value: This is where you specify the measures as they will be displayed on the x-axis. The value of each measure will determine the location of the markers on the y-axis scale. By default it will SUM all the values per category, but you can also select any of the other aggregation functions (like Average, Minimum, Maximum, Count, etc.);
  • Tooltips: The fields added here will shown in the tooltip when the user hovers a specific data point.

How to use: Format

Besides the standard Format Sections there are a number of additional Format Sections that allow you to change the default behaviour of the visual:

  • License: here you can enter your license details.
  • Y-Axis: the formatting options for the Y-axis (category axis) are similar to the options available within the Clustered Bar Chart (standard Power BI visual). These familiar options allow you to change the visibility and formatting of the y-axis elements (like: title, labels, grid lines, etc.). Here you can also find the option to change the padding between the bars, called Inner padding.
  • X-Axis: the formatting options for the x-axis (value axis) are similar to the options available within the Clustered Bar Chart (standard Power BI visual). These familiar options allow you to change the visibility and formatting of the x-axis elements (like: begin and end values, display units, decimal places, grid lines, etc.). There is also an additional feature here to have all measures use the same scale: Single Scale
  • Data colors: within this section you can change the default color which applies to all bars. You can also change the color per measure (column)

For any questions or remarks about this Custom Visual, please contact us by email at Nova Silva Support.

Next Tutorial: how to use the Merged Bar Chart
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