by Amir Netz, Technical Fellow

Do you love data? Can you code (or do you know someone who can)? If so, you will want to read this.

8 weeks ago we started on a journey to open the Power BI visualization platform. We opened our source code and placed it in the Microsoft/PowerBI-Visuals GitHub repository. We then established the program to accept contributions from the community; at this point the contributions are coming in fast and furious.

We are now ready to step it up to the next phase.

This phase is about allowing you to unleash your data visualization creativity. We want to see what you can dream of. We crave to see what you can create. And we want you to have some real fun in the process and have some real motivation to participate.

So we thought perhaps a little friendly competition could do the trick; little competition - big prizes.

I am excited to announce the Power BI Best Visual Contest. We are looking for an amazing new Power BI visual. We want it to be original, useful to many people and of exceptionally high quality. In fact – these are exactly the evaluation criteria we’ll be using to determine the winner:

  • 35.00% - Originality and creativity of the Visual
  • 35.00% - Usefulness and applicability
  • 30.00% - Design and code quality

In order to enable you to create these visuals, today we are sharing an early version of our developer tools in Power BI. In the following video, Nico and Sachin show you how you can use the developer tools to create and test your visualizations in Power BI. Warning: This is super cool.

Looks easy. Right? Now let’s see what you can create!

The competition will run for four weeks starting today, 9/3/2015 till 10/1/2015.You won’t have to wait long after that – we will be announcing the winners during the week of October 8th. You’ll really want to be a winner in this one:

  • Grand Prize: US $5,000
  • Second Prize: US $2,500
  • Third PrizeUS $1,500

But wait! There is more! We will also offer three “People Choice Awards” of US $1000 each to be announced on the second, third and fourth weeks of the competition. Each week, a winner will be determined by counting the number of Twitter mentions for each participating entry. Tweets simply need to include a hyperlink to the original entry, along with hashtags #powerbi #contest. All the current contest entries can be found on this page. We’ll even have a Power BI dashboard to track the voting!

Here is the coolest thing of all: when you create a truly awesome visualization you stand not only to win a prize but also to have your visualization shipping as part of Power BI, including full credits to you! This is where you not only earn some awesome bragging rights for your Mom, but you’ll also get a great new pickup line for Friday’s singles night in the geek pub.

To submit an entry you need to head to the contest website. But before you start, please make sure to read the official contest rules as they are really important. The contest rules specify certain strict participation and submission rules that you do not want to miss. Also make sure to read the code contribution guidelines in GitHub.

A quick update on what’s coming - Custom Visualizations in Power BI and Power BI Desktop!

We are not done yet. I am delighted to disclose that the same skills you will be using to build your visual for the contest will also be applicable for the upcoming custom visualizations feature of Power BI.

The custom visualizations feature will enable you to use your own visualizations in Power BI, without needing to have them included in the public Power BI product. These custom visualizations will be yours only and you’ll have full control and ownership over them

Very Soon, we will enable the registration and use of custom visualizations in your Power BI tenant where you can include them in reports (created in the Power BI web experience) and dashboards. Shortly after, you will also have the capability to use custom visualizations in Power BI Desktop. We expect that these capabilities will allow you to deliver custom visualizations to data analysts and business users who will find them useful.

We are very excited to enter this chapter in our journey towards open and custom visuals. I, along with the rest of the Power BI team cannot wait to see what you will create!

Let the games begin.

** No purchase necessary.  Open to professionals, students, or enthusiasts in the field of software research, sales or development 18 +. Ends at 11:59 p.m. PT on October 1st, 2015.  See Official Rules for full details.