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Visual Awesomeness Unlocked: Pulse Chart

Headshot of article author Lukasz Pawlowski

When presenting data, you often need to reel in your audience, capture their attention, and clearly explain how key events contributed to an overall trend. While Power BI’s built-in visualizations let you do that, sometimes you need to take it up a notch to mesmerize your audience.

Today we’ve introduced the Pulse chart to the Power BI Visuals Gallery. The Pulse chart shows key events on a timeline, and lets you play back the events to reveal insights. It’s best to see the Pulse chart in action.

(view in full screen)

In the above example, I’m using the Pulse Chart to show the impact of recessions on unemployment rate in the United States of America. It seems logical that a whenever a recession hits, unemployment would go up.  But there’s something deeply engaging about seeing the unemployment rate unfold in front of your eyes and seeing exactly when the recession started and its effect on the unemployment rate. 

The Pulse chart was inspired by Microsoft Pulse, which is an easy-to-use platform for audience engagement including live surveys and live analysis. Microsoft Pulse users answer questions, which in turn show how the audience is feeling at any moment in time. The person running the Pulse can annotate the timeline to show key moments, and then understand how key events impacted the trends by overlaying them on a single chart.  We know this kind of problem is not unique to Microsoft Pulse, so we wanted to share this visual with everyone who needs to tell a data story with Power BI.

Creating a Pulse Chart is really easy — you just need to provide data that is a time series. You add columns to the time series data that define the events you want to show on the line.  For those columns, non-blank values become events and are shown as circles on the Pulse chart. In the below example, the data point for 11/1/1948 would show a circle. The circles are selectable, so you can click them to filter the rest of the data on the report.

The Pulse Chart allows you to playback the data to see the trend unfold in front of your eyes.  When an event appears, the playback pauses to filter the rest of the report, revealing hidden relationships. You can use this feature to grab your audience’s attention and highlight specific insights. There’s an auto play feature that starts the playback when the report loads. Pulse Charts are ideal for use with publish to web or when sharing reports with your coworkers.

When a data point is selected on the Pulse Chart, you get a customizable popup. You can specify the title and description, and show or hide the timestamp as well. This lets you clearly call attention to what’s important about the data point.

Pulse chart shows the kind of data storytelling that’s possible with Power BI’s visualizations.  We hope to see you posting and using this visual in your future publish to web reports and data presentations.



Get the Pulse chart from the Power BI Visuals Gallery