How to Breed a Unicorn? Dumbbell Chart in Power BI

It started with @shan_gsd‘s tweet about Year 2022 Week 33 of the Workout Wednesday and @CJMajka‘s reply “A dumbbell chart in #PowerBI?! That is kind of like a Unicorn right

My first though was “A Power BI unicorn? I like Power BI unicorns and I believe I can use Error Bars (relatively new Power BI feature) to breed one specimen. It was late evening and time to go to sleep, but I couldn’t stop myself from creating a Unicorn.

I loaded data into Power Query (a simple and short fact table with Year, Age and Ownership columns) + Year and Age dimension tables. Yeah, a proper star schema even for a very simple one chart report. It takes just a minute to build (with so simple fact table), but I think it’s a good habit.

I won’t be describing here how to get data from Excel file published online into Power BI. I assume you’re looking for a unicorn here, not for the basics. But I’ll attach the .pbix file to this post.

Next step is to add a native Line chart visual with ‘Age'[Age] column to X-axis field and multiple measures to Y-axis field.

First measure to create is [Ownership] measure.

Ownership :=
//Average Ownership
CALCULATE ( AVERAGE ( ‘Ownership'[Ownership] ) )

Just an average of the ownership %.

This is the base for all other measures.

Now [Start] measure will be used for 2015 data (I’m just taking first available year to avoid hardcoded values):

Start :=
//First Year ownership
VAR _Year = [First Year]
VAR _Result =
    CALCULATE ( [Ownership], ‘Year'[Year] = _Year )
RETURN
    _Result

And [End] measure will be used for 2019 data (I’m just taking the last available year to avoid hardcoded values):

End :=
//Last Year ownership
VAR _Year = [Last Year]
VAR _Result =
    CALCULATE ( [Ownership], ‘Year'[Year] = _Year )
RETURN
    _Result

Format [Start] series to display only blue markers and no lines:

And format [End] measure to display only orange markers and no lines:

This is the chart with first two series added:

Next step is to add vertical lines. I used Error Bars for this purpose.

Firstly, I created [Upper] and [Lower] measures (error bar upper and lower bounds) and then [Upper 20+] and [Lower 20+] measures (error bar upper and lower bounds, but only for Age with 2019 vs 2015 change >= 20 percentage points.

Upper :=
//Upper Value (either Last Year of First Year value)
VAR _Start = [Start]
VAR _End = [End]
VAR _Result =
    IF ( _End > _Start_End_Start )
RETURN
    _Result
Lower :=
//Lower Value (either Last Year of First Year value)
VAR _Start = [Start]
VAR _End = [End]
VAR _Result =
    IF ( _End < _Start_End_Start )
RETURN
    _Result
Upper 20+ :=
//Upper Value (either Last Year of First Year value)
//Only for change >= 20pp (to highlight with color)
IF (
    [Change] >= 0.2,
    [Upper],
    BLANK ()
)
Lower 20+ :=
//Lower Value (either Last Year of First Year value)
//Only for change >= 20pp (to highlight with color)
IF (
    [Change] >= 0.2,
    [Lower],
    BLANK ()
)

I added [Upper] and [Lower] measures to the [Start] series and formatted the error bars as gray bars (lines) with gray semi-transparent error band:

And I added [Upper 20+] and [Lower 20+] measures to the [End] series and formatted the error bars as red bars (lines):

Now it looks like this:

Errors bars is a really great feature.

But how to add a label to the middle of each error bar? This part is a bit more tricky.

I created [Middle Point] measure:

Middle Point :=
//Invisible middle poin for a label
VAR _Start = [Start]
VAR _End = [End]
VAR _Shift = –shift data point down on the Y exis
( _End – _Start ) / ( ( ( _End – _Start ) * 100 ) ^ 1 / 2.2 )
VAR _Result = ( _End – _Start ) / 2 + _Start – _Shift
RETURN
    _Result

Normally I would use (_End – _Start) / 2 + _Start to calculate the middle point between _Start and _End. But we can position data labels either below or above the data point. And I want the data point marker to be invisible, but the data label to be visible and placed in the middle of a error bar. This is what _Shift variable does. I display data labels above data points and use – _Shift to move the data point a little bit downward.

Without the _Shift:

With the _Shift:
Next problem to solve – I don’t need to see % value of the middle point. I need a difference between 2019 and 2015 values with triangle up (or down) character. How force a measure to show something else instead of the measure value?

Calculation Group.

I created ‘Number Format’ calculation group and added the following DAX to the Format String Expression property of the ‘Middle Point Label’ calculation item:

Middle Point Label :=
//Format Middle Point (2019 vs 2015 change) data label
VAR _Change =
    FORMAT ( ROUND ( ( [Upper] – [Lower] ) * 1000 )“\\0\\0\p\p” )
VAR _ChangeDirection =
    SWITCH (
        TRUE (),
        –triangle up https://unicode-table.com/en/25B2/
        [End] > [Start], UNICHAR ( 9650 ),
        –triangle down https://unicode-table.com/en/25BC/
        [End] < [Start], UNICHAR ( 9660 ),
        –diamond https://unicode-table.com/en/25C6/
        –UNICHAR ( 9670 )
        “”
    )
VAR _ShiftX =
    –spaces to shift label horizontaly
    REPT ( UNICHAR ( 160 )8 )
VAR _MiddlePointFormat = _ShiftX & _ChangeDirection & _Change
VAR _Format =
    IF (
        –apply only to Middle Point measure
        “‘_Measures'[“ & SELECTEDMEASURENAME () & “]”
            NAMEOF ( [Middle Point] ),
        _MiddlePointFormat,
        SELECTEDMEASUREFORMATSTRING ()
    )
RETURN
    _Format

_ShiftX variable is used to move data label to the right, so the triangle is exactly above the error bar.

Now I have what I wanted:

But there is a minor problem.

For the first and the last data points _ShiftX doesn’t work as I want it to work.

So far, the only solution I found is to add additional data points to axis X (I added Ages 7 and 19 to the ‘Age’ table in Power Query) and I added One measure to Y-axis (with hidden line/markers) to make sure all axis X values are included into the chart.

And then I just covered 7 and 19 values on the axis X with white bar shapes.

Then I formatted Axis X, Axis Y, added a title and a text box with “2019 vs 2015” text, a few foot notes and it’s complete.

You can download the .pbix file here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/rpuj9tqsf4172cp/Dumbbell%20Chart%20in%20Power%20BI.zip
Share the article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.