Introducing the New Format Pane (Preview)

Have you been spending too much time guessing and testing what various format settings do?

Tired of aimlessly scrolling in the format pane to find what you’re looking for?

Unsure if you’ve truly reverted all the settings to default?

What about those darn double scrollbars!

We’ve heard your feedback and would like to introduce you to the redesigned format pane! Below you’ll find the biggest changes we’ve made to improve the usability and consistency across visuals and non-visual elements.

We know this is a big change for you. We aim to roll this out conservatively to get your early feedback and make any needed adjustments. This is currently in preview starting with Power BI Desktop’s November release. Please give this a try by turning on the preview switch: File > Options and settings > Options > Preview Features > New format pane. Feel free to add your comments directly to this blog post.

New pivot icons

We’ve updated the format tab icon and added a descriptive sub-title to help new users better locate the format pane. Previously, it was hard to find the format page settings, now we’ve added a new format page icon that reflects when no visuals are selected, the canvas is ready for formatting.

Old format paneNew format pane

 

Moving the visualization types gallery:

To address the limited vertical space on the format pane, we’ve moved the visualization types gallery to be present only on the “Build” tab.

Old format paneNew format pane

Redesigned compact toggle:

We condensed the toggle design to reduce truncation and improve readability of the settings.

Old format paneNew format pane

Splitting visual specific vs. general settings:

We have now split the long list of formatting cards into two categories: visual specific vs. general settings. The general settings contain cards that affect the visual container and are consistent across all visual types. The visual specific settings contain cards that pertain only to the visual type you’re currently working with. This change allows for easier adjustment of general settings when clicking across visuals, better scanability and discovery of visual specific cards, and helps new users learn where to find what.

Old format paneNew format pane

New global revert to default:

We’ve now added a new “…” menu that allows you to revert all settings back to default. Previously this was a painstaking process of opening each card and clicking revert to default. This is especially helpful when you want your visual to reflect your theme styling.

Sub-categories:

You’ll also notice within the cards we have broken up the settings further into subcategories. This improves readability and allows you to focus on specific parts of a card a time. We’ve also added a new context menu for navigating these new subcategories. Now you can right click within a card to expand all the sub-categories at once or collapse for quick scanning and scrolling.

For custom visuals, we will expose an API for developers to optionally create sub-categories for their format pane settings. Otherwise, they will appear just as they do today, in one flat list within a card.

Old format paneNew format pane

No more double scrollbars!

This a big usability improvement. Previously, when scrolling within a long card the format pane would have two scrollbars! Now when you expand cards and subcategories, we have one scrollbar that adapts to the length of the contents.

Old format paneNew format pane

Hidden dynamic cards exposed:

Previously, some cards were only shown when you added certain fields in the build tab. For new users, this can be hard to understand when and why some cards were available or unavailable. With our newly added vertical space, we can expose these hidden dynamic cards with helpful tooltips on what actions to take to enable the cards.

Merged font settings:

Across the format pane, we’ve now merged font family and font size to be on one line. Again, this was in an effort to reduce vertical space and better to align with Office.

Old format paneNew format pane

Customize series mechanism:

Previously, the old format pane would repeat the same list of settings after toggling the “customize series” toggle on. We have now consolidated this into an “apply settings to” dropdown that lets you easily switch between updating the settings for all series or a particular series without having to scroll.

Old format paneNew format pane

Button states mechanism:

Similar to customize series, we’ve also consolidated the button style cards. This allows us to use one “apply settings to” dropdown to easily toggle between button states to update various aspects of the style.

Old format paneNew format pane

Highlighting match in search:

Small but mighty change, we’ve added the same yellow highlight you see in the Fields list and Filter pane to the Format pane search results. Note, when in search mode, results will reflect contents from both the visual and general pivots.

Old format paneNew format pane

Order, naming conventions, and information hierarchy:

Throughout the years, the format pane has received many new additions but not always have these additions been added in a consistent fashion. It’s especially hard for new users to learn where things are when cards and settings constantly jump around. Or the name of the same setting in one visual is called something entirely different in another. We’ve now rearranged, renamed, added missing units, and consolidated cards/settings to behave consistent across visuals.

Bonus! Analytics pane updated styling:

To match the new format pane style, we’ve also updated the Analytics pane look and feel.

Known issues with opt-in preview that will be addressed in December release:

  • The action card for button, image, and shape, responsive toggle, and data limit settings are currently missing.
  • Numeric input may not render input properly for overflowing text.
  • Red borders may appear around some controls when first opening the pane.
  • Scatter chart > category labels are missing a few properties.
  • Some visuals have not been updated with sub-categories, these will be updated in future releases (Azure Maps, Esri Map, Power Automate, Decomp tree).
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