By Ron Ellis Gaut on 3/11/2017

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Color is a critical element of visual design and we now have the capability to easily apply custom color themes in all of our Power BI Desktop solutions. This long-awaited feature is something we have wanted and needed since the first release of Power BI Desktop. But to really take advantage of this where do we find good color themes? How can we avoid the effort required to build our own JSON theme files?

When the Power BI Blog describing the new Report Theming feature was posted, I was quick to download the new version of Desktop and start playing with the new features.

In test driving the Color Theme feature it was really great to apply colors and not have to add custom colors to each visual. Whew, what a relief! But the honeymoon period was brief. What I immediately wanted was a theme library that I could browse and select pre-defined themes. Of course this capability is not currently provided by Power BI Desktop and so I decided to build a tool to fill that need need. Check it out:

About the App

The Color Theme Browser app provides a friendly report tab that enables one to scroll through a set of numbered color themes and see all of the color combinations as colors (not hex values). When you find a theme you like, you can go grab the .JSON file with the same number from the theme library and import it into Desktop using the Switch Theme menu option.

The data source for the app is an Excel file that contains 2400 rows (one row for each theme). Each row includes:

  • the theme number (ID),
  • the image URL to display the color swatch from ColorHex.com,
  • the URL to the color scheme details on ColorHex.com,
  • the JSON code for the theme, and
  • a favorites column for tagging your favorite themes.

A custom visual (Chiclet Slicer) is used to display colors on the Browser report tab. There is a limit to how many rows can be displayed in the visual (roughly 500) and therefore only a subset of color schemes can be displayed at any one time.

Query parameters can be set to retrieve a different set of themes from the source data (described below).

The Theme Example report tab provides a way for you to see how color themes look in typical visuals. I have found that until you see the colors in use, it is hard to know if your choice is a good one. It's sort of like picking paint colors for your living room from those little paint chip samples. Until it's on the walls, you don't know for sure if the colors actually work for you.

Loading More Colors

The app has three query parameters: FirstID, LastID and SourcDataLocation. Values for these parameters can be set from the Edit Queries/Edit Parameters dropdown on the Home Menu Ribbon in Desktop.

parms

Important - You will need to set a directory/file path in the SourceDataLocation parameter to tell the app where to find the source data (Excel) file. If this is not set correctly, your refresh will fail.

To view a different collection of color themes, set the FirstID and LastID values to define the range (e.g. 600, 1000) then apply changes. The data set will reload and display the new themes.

Theme numbers start at 200, the ending number is 2400. There are 2200 themes included in the download zip file. Each theme is a separate .JSON file, prepped and ready to import into Desktop.

To import a theme, select the Switch Themes/Import Theme menu option from the Home ribbon in Desktop.

menu

To complete the import process you will be prompted to browse to the location where you have stored the theme library (.JSON files). From there, pick the numbered theme you want and click OK. You will get a message from Desktop informing you the import was successful.

To see the new theme in use, click on the Theme Example report tab.

example

Tagging Your Favorite Themes

Edit the source data (Excel file) and update the Favorites column. Refresh data and you can use the favorites slicer to filter.

Download the Color Them Browser zip file:

I hope you like the app and that your Power BI creations are drop dead gorgeous. Power On!