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On object | Public Preview (Opt-in)

Introducing On object! The new way to build and format your visuals.

Feature overview

We’ve heard time and again from our user research studies PBI desktop is hard to use. We’ve also seen countless new users struggle to navigate our UI to perform simple actions such as completely missing the fields pane all the way on the right side of the screen, unable to add data to the correct field wells, fishing around the format pane to rename, change colors, or format text styles of their visual. These same users instinctively right-click on areas of the visual expecting a menu to help. Aligning to our new “Office-like” strategy we bring you, on object. A new way to build and format visuals directly on the visual.

 Set up instructions

To get started, turn on the preview switch in  File > Options and settings > Options > Preview Features > On-object interaction. Then, restart desktop to see the new experience.

Building a visual on object

Begin building a visual by either a) checking /dragging fields from the data pane b) inserting a new visual from the ribbon and adding fields or c) right clicking on the canvas to “add visual.” You’ll notice the visualizations pane is no longer available, this is by design.

Note: Custom visuals are not currently shown in the ribbon gallery’s collapsed tray but are available from the dropdown. We will be adding custom visuals to the collapsed tray soon.

As you add fields, the visual type will dynamically update based on what Power BI believes is the best visual type for your data. If you want to manually change the visual type, you can do so via the “build a visual” button visual types tray or the turn off the automatic suggestions toggle.

From this flyout, you can continue to add data using the “add data” button without having to drag fields from the data pane all the way on the right side of the canvas.

If you prefer to see all the field wells as before, simply turn off the “suggest a type” toggle to expand the “build a visual” menu’s full options.

You may also adjust this toggle to off by default as well as pinning the full visualization gallery tray open from the Options and settings menu:

Formatting a visual on object

The default behavior when hovering on a visual, you’ll see tooltips and clicking around a visual you’ll get the cross highlight/cross filter effect. To not conflict with this existing hover and click behavior, we introduced a new “format mode.” Once you are in “format mode” the hover and click behavior change to show subselection regions.

You can enter “format mode” one of 2 ways:

    1. Double clicking on a visual
    2. Right click > Format

You’ll know you’re in this new mode when the bounding box turns blue, the handle shape turns to square, and the hover and click behavior change to show subselection regions like so:

Now you can hover and click around the visual to format specific subselections. Simply right click on the selected element to use the mini-toolbar and shortcut menu.

You can also directly format labels and titles on visuals by simply double clicking on the label you’d like to edit to begin typing. Click away or enter to save your changes.

Note: if your title or label was set by conditional formatting, it is possible to override the text with this new feature. This is a known issue we are working to block and warn users when dynamic text is set, it takes precedence.


When clicking on an element that is very close or overlapping to another, Power BI takes the best guess at your selection. If the selection is incorrect, you can use the dropdown menu to change your selection to the element you’d like to format.

Other functional changes

Pane Switcher

We have removed the Visualizations pane in favor of the on object menus. In doing so, we introduced a “pane switcher” to also align to Office’s pattern of “one pane at a time” and give you more real estate on the canvas.

As you open panes, you can see them added to the switcher on the right. If you accidentally close a pane, you can bring it back from the View tab in the ribbon:

If you prefer to have the panes side by side like before, you can right click on the pane you’d like and choose “ Open in new pane”:

Drillthrough and Tooltip Page Setup

Drillthrough and Tooltip page settings have been moved from the previous Visualizations pane into the Format page settings:

Analytics pane now merged with Format pane

Previously analytics features were on their own pivot in the Visualizations pane. With the removal of the Visualizations pane we have now added the analytics features to be on the format pane as considered to be more “elements to add to your visual.” You will also be able to select a reference line, error bar, or anomaly to format coming soon.

Limitations and known issues

Supported visuals for on object formatting:

·  On object formatting is currently only supported for Bar, Column, Line, Area, Combo, and Scatter visuals. However, small multiples is not currently supported. More visuals coming soon!

·  Format mode is not currently supported in mobile layout.

·  Format mode is not currently supported in focus mode.


·  Small multiples and analytics pane items are not currently selectable in format mode.

·  Sub-selection regions do not scale as expected in spotlight mode and after using zoom sliders, we are working on a fix.

·   Reset to default may not reset direct text edit and background colors for data/category labels, we are working on a fix

On object buttons:

·  On object buttons may show above formula bar if open at the same time.


·  Warning messages are not shown within “add to your visual” menu.

·  If your title or label was set by conditional formatting, it is possible to override the text with the new direct text editing feature. This is a known issue we are working to block and warn users when dynamic text is set, it takes precedence.

·  While responsive is on, the mini- toolbar will increase to the responsive upper bound then stop. This may appear as a bug that it’s broken. We plan to add an error state to communicate this.

Custom visuals:

·  We plan to release an API for custom visual developers to be able to define sub-selection regions within their visual.

·  To find custom visuals using the new visualization gallery in the ribbon, users must expand the full dropdown. We will be adding custom visuals to the collapsed tray view very soon.


·  Full accessibility support is coming soon.

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