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Access and Insights #2 – Power BI Essentials

Table of Contents

Microsoft Power BI is used as the interface for all our products. In this article, we’ll cover fundamental Power BI features that you will use every day with tyGraph.

Basic Navigation

This article will assume you’ve covered our Access and Insights #1 article. If you are unsure about the difference between Power BI Desktop, the Power BI Service, and tyGraph Online then feel free to jump back to the previous article.

When navigating around Power BI there are three main elements that you navigate within. These are:

  • Reports
  • Pages
  • Visuals


“A Power BI report is a multi-perspective view into a dataset, with visuals that represent different findings and insights from that dataset. A report can have a single visual or pages full of visuals.”

In tyGraph Online, the reports are selected at the top. In the Power BI Service, you can have multiple reports inside a work-space. In Power BI desktop the entire file and window is a single report.


The area for each view into the data. “Reports have one or more pages. Each tab on the report canvas represents a page. ”

In tyGraph Online and Power BI desktop the Pages are at the bottom of the window. In the Power BI service Pages are listed on the left of your screen.


“Visualizations (known as visuals for short) display insights that have been discovered in the data. A Power BI report might have a single page with one visual or it might have pages full of visuals.


As an bonus term. We will refer to the canvas or canvas area. This is the space where visuals are plotted on the report page. Its not an actual navigation element, but it will be a term we use frequently.

Reports, Pages, and Visuals in tyGraph Online
Reports, Pages, and Visuals in the Power BI Service
Reports, Pages, and Visuals in Power BI Desktop
An example of a semi blank canvas taken from our Template Page in tyGraph for Yammer


Now that you are familiar with moving around the tool, you should know how to filter the data to fit the scenario you want to answer.

There are a series of ways you can filter the data:

  • On Canvas
  • Filter Pane
    • Basic
    • Advanced
    • Relative

The filter pane will always be on the right of your screen regardless of if you are in tyGraph Online, the Power BI Service, or Power BI Desktop. Slicers will can be anywhere on the canvas area but at tyGraph we usually put them along the left side.

Filtering from the Canvas


We often leave Power BI visuals that are made just for filtering the data in your report. These are called slicers. You can use these slicers to quickly select common requests like date ranges, groups, teams channels etc.

The selection you make will be additive to anything else on the canvas. So it is wise to erase any existing visuals before making changes.

Don’t forget that we have help tips above the slicers and visuals. So feel free to hover over the help icons at the top if you forget what to do in the moment.

Using Visuals As Slicers – Also called “Cross Filtering”

You can also filter the data by selecting a data point in a visual. If you would like to select multiple data-points, hold down the control key and select the items that interest you.

Visual Elements

Finally there are a vast number of tools packed into each visual. Many of these options are hidden unless you interact with the visual so we will explain them in the order below:

  • Hierarchies
    • Drill Up
    • Drill Down
    • Next Level
    • Expand Down
  • Data Point Interactions
    • Drill Through
    • Show as table
  • Ellipsis/Utility
    • Filter Indicator
    • Focus Mode
    • Show as table
    • Vertical layout
    • Export
    • Sort


These allow you to move up and down within a pre-set hierarchy from the report creator. This gives you flexibility in cases where the default axis is too broad or narrow for your filter context.

Drill Up

Moves you up in the visual hierarchy. Automatically changes the aggregation for the visual axis.

Drill Down

When enabled, this changes the visual navigation to moving down the hierarchy through the selected data point instead of cross-filtering the page to that selection.

Go to Next Level in the Hierarchy

Moves you down within visual hierarchy. Automatically changes the aggregation for the visual axis.

Expand Down

Moves down the hierarchy by combining each item from each branch into a large unique string. Example: An address Hierarchy of Country, Province, City would combine the values as below:

Datapoint Interactions

Drill Through

This allows you to right click a data-point and move to another page (usually with more detail) but keep all the filters from the page you started from. We use this extensively in tools like tyGraph for SharePoint were you need to move from the big picture to very specific details quickly.

Focus Mode

This allows you to expand a visual so that it fills the entire canvas area. This is a critical feature if you’re conducting analysis on devices with small screens where visuals can become hard to read.

Show as a Table

This feature is very similar to focus mode. It expands any visual to take up the full screen and include a table view underneath. This is great if you would like to see a detailed list of all data points we’ve used in the visual. This is also handy if some data points are too small to have a label and you’d like to see the values. This sometimes happens in stacked column charts shown below.

Vertical Layout

One thing you will notice (above) is that the table will be underneath charts by default. You can switch between a horizontal and vertical layout through the “switch” button at the top bar, left of the ellipsis.

Copy Data to Clipboard

One of my favorite features added in 2019. You can right click on any data point and copy it to your clipboard. This is handy if you or a colleague are looking to reach out to a group admin. In the same example below you can click the mail icon and it will open an email for you.

Visual Ellipsis

At the top right of every visual you will see an ellipsis (…) appear when you hover over the visual. From here you can take a number of actions.

Export data

Our insights inspire action. Some visuals help you take actions such as purging groups, praising collaborators, or contacting team members or admins. With the export data feature you can pull an otherwise tedious list in a single click.

To export data, click the visual ellipsis, select Export data, choose either Summarized or Underlying data, the file format you would like, and click export. Summarized data will export the data you see in the visual. Underlying data exports without the context from the visual.

For details on this feature check out the fantastic Microsoft documentation on this page:


You can define sort order in detail by clicking the sort ascending, descending and selecting the item you would like to sort by.

You can also do this quickly on table visuals by clicking the column header.

This is commonly used if you’re looking for the highest ranked item based on another column in a table that we’ve shown. For example, by default we show the top threads by our thread impact score but if you want to know the most reacted to conversation you can select the column header to see those threads at the top.


These features are what we consider to be the absolute basics for pulling reports from tyGraph. Microsoft Power BI has a vast number of features and continues to grow. We will explain additional features in future breakout articles, however if you are interested in exploring on your own here are a list of fantastic Power BI resources from the Microsoft team:

Power BI Service Concepts from Microsoft Docs:

Power BI YouTube Channel:–PYvwBwAeuYaR8JLmrfg

Guy in a Cube YouTube Channel:

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