Small Multiples (Preview) – Roadmap Updates

Hi all,

With this month’s release, we’ve turned the small multiples preview feature on by default in Power BI Desktop. A lot has changed since we first released the preview in December 2020 — let’s take a look at what we’ve shipped since then:

  • In February, we started off our planned improvements with a variety of gridline and background color controls, allowing you to add visual clarity to your small multiples grids.
  • In March, we added word wrap to small multiples titles, helping you ensure your longer titles are given the space they deserve.
  • In April, we added not only support for combo chart visuals, but also extended the work we did on the small multiples grid to allow you both one-setting and granular control over padding around the charts inside. With this update, you have full control over the size and spacing of elements in your small multiples grid.
  • Finally, this month, we added support for rendering your date hierarchies as continuous axes, allowing you to see all of your time data, start to finish, in each small multiples chart, without having to scroll as you would for categorical axes. This is a huge usability improvement, as the inherently smaller size of repeated charts makes horizontal scrolling on categorical axes more common.

Let’s compare this with the milestones we laid out when we first announced the feature back in December — that’s right, we’ve just about reached the end of the first milestone!

Since we finally hit this landmark, we thought it would be a good idea to update you with our plans for the feature moving forward. We’ve heard a lot of feedback from a variety of sources in the months between then and now. Through our survey, blog comments, Community comments, customer calls, social media, and other sources, we’ve gotten to understand many of your perspectives and use cases, and getting to hear the additions you find most important has been invaluable for our planning. We can’t thank you enough for the feedback you’ve provided.

Using that feedback, we’ve come up with an updated feature roadmap. Let’s take a look at it before further discussing its context. Here’s where we’re at:

Preview milestone 2 (GA milestone): 

  • Conditional formatting for small multiples title colors, background colors
  • Turn small multiples titles on/off
  • Sort small multiples by measure
  • Shared axis title
  • Accessibility support
  • Responsiveness support

Small multiples becomes generally available

Tentative post-GA milestone:

  • Shared/unshared X/Y axis
  • Unsynchronized Y axis
  • Scatter chart support
  • Data point rectangle selection within multiples
  • Auto grid layout (sets grid dimensions based on dimensions of visual container)

Backlog:

  • Partition small multiples by both row and column
  • Category axis load more
  • Hierarchical axis concatenate labels
  • Support for analytics (trend lines, forecasting)
  • Support for zoom sliders
  • Support for more visuals
  • Data point rectangle selection across multiples
  • Dynamic formatting for highlight labels
  • Total labels for stacked charts
  • High density sampling

Preview milestone 2 denotes the feature work we’d like to complete before we make small multiples generally available. Tentative post-GA milestone denotes the work we’ve identified as the best ratio of cost-to-value, based on all the feedback we’ve gotten from you so far. Based on how the demands of the other exciting feature work we’ve got, we’d like to use our momentum to tackle these items before we end our consistent investment. Backlog denotes the features we’re planning to leave on the backlog for the immediate future, to perhaps be addressed opportunistically over time.

So, what changed?

The biggest shift here was in our definition of general availability. Thanks to the work we’ve done, users are already creating functional and elegant reports leveraging small multiples. The earlier we get the feature to GA, the earlier we put that value into more hands and more reports. Moreover, we then get to be flexible with the level of investment we put into small multiples. Should the need arise, we can allocate more developers onto higher-priority, higher-impact projects. This is a net win for us and you — if we’re moving people away from small multiples, that means we’ve got something even more exciting in the works.

Our standards for general availability are flexible. However, we consider support for accessibility and responsiveness to be fundamental aspects of a complete feature. We will not GA a feature that has not considered and accommodated for the many different ways in which you will interface with it. Thus, we prioritize these in the interest of reaching a state where we can GA small multiples. In addition, we round out formatting options for small multiples titles, add support for shared axis title, and add sort-by-measure functionality, which we’ve heard a lot of requests for and which fits our GA timeline.

Post-GA, we prioritize the highest-value features from the feedback you’ve given us: axis formatting and support for more chart types. We also want to prioritize as close to GA as possible the change which would have the most significant impact on the default small multiples experience in auto grid layout, and add support for a common mode of interactivity in data point rectangle select.

After that is backlog items. I’d like to call out row/column partitioning here as a particularly noteworthy item. This feature is the single most requested addition to small multiples from the feedback we received. It’s also the most expensive feature for us to develop, and by a significant margin. This doesn’t mean we plan never to implement it. However, we will need to find the right opportunity to work on it, and have enough confidence in its value that it’s worth the investment. More than with any other feature on the list above, we strongly encourage you to submit and vote on an Idea for this functionality on our Ideas forum.

We’d love your feedback on this updated roadmap. To that end, we’ve made a new survey asking for you to rate the features on the roadmap by importance to your use cases. We’ll be evaluating and looking to adjust the milestones based on this feedback and the development cost of each feature, so even if the list above fits your needs best, let us know so that we can move forward with confidence!

Here’s the link:

(New) small multiples feedback survey

You can also let us know your thoughts on our community forum and Ideas pages.

And, of course, we’ll be checking comments on this blog post, on the monthly blog post, and wherever else we see them on the internet!

Thank you for being such a wonderful community, and we hope to hear from you soon!

– the Power BI Small Multiples Squad

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