Using chart properties

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1. Overview

A chart lets you visualize one or more measures along a dimension or hierarchy. For example, use a chart to compare the sales amount with the sales target for each month. Several different types of charts are available to help you communicate your data effectively.

This article explains how to use some of the key features that are common to all charts.

Related video: Building a Basic Chart

2. Elements of a chart

The figure below shows the main elements of a chart data visualization.

Elements of a bar chart with a contextual line series and a legend
Elements of a bar chart with a contextual line series and a legend

A data series represents a group of related data points. The figure above shows a bar series and a line series, where each data point is displayed as a bar or a portion of the line.

3. Adding a chart

To add a chart to your dashboard, go to the toolbar, click Data Visualization and then select the type of chart you want.

Select a chart type from the toolbar
Select a chart type from the toolbar

Next, drag a measure and a hierarchy from a data connector or data cube in the Explore window onto the empty chart. You'll see the chart automatically reconfigured with a left axis, bottom axis, major grid lines, and data points representing the data series.

Drag OrderQty and Product onto the empty chart
Drag OrderQty and Product onto the empty chart

To interact with the chart, switch to View mode. Go to the bottom axis of the chart and click on a triangle to expand one of the Product hierarchy members (e.g., Bikes). Hover over one of the expanded bars to see a tooltip which shows the corresponding measure and hierarchy values.

Switch to View mode to interact with the chart
Switch to View mode to interact with the chart

You can also right-click (or long-tap) on the chart and use the menu to drill down, drill up, or change the hierarchy level.

4. Re-visualize as a chart

Another way to display a chart is to re-visualize a different type of data visualization as a specific chart type. For example, right-click (or long-tap) on a table visualization, click Re-Visualize from the menu, and then select the chart type you want from a submenu.

If you already have a chart that shows two series (e.g., measures), you can re-visualize one of the series independently. For example, right-click (or long-tap) on the second series. You'll see a selection rectangle around the data points (bars) that correspond to the second series. Click Re-Visualize from the menu, and then select a different chart type.

Re-visualize the second measure
Re-visualize the second measure

The second measure (e.g., Target) is now displayed as a line series.

Resulting chart after re-visualizing second measure
Resulting chart after re-visualizing second measure

5. Axis properties

Charts are usually configured with a left axis (or y-axis) and a bottom axis (or x-axis). From the Properties window for a selected chart on the canvas, go to the Main \ CHART section to see the list of axes for the chart.

Click on a chart axis (Bottom Axis 1) to edit its properties
Click on a chart axis (Bottom Axis 1) to edit its properties

5.1. Invert axes

Under the Main \ CHART properties section of a chart, use the Invert Axes property to switch (or transpose) the horizontal and vertical axes so that bars and areas are drawn horizontally instead of vertically. This option is mostly used on bar charts (including stacked bar and 100% stacked bar) to save space or to make it easier to read long axis labels.

Invert Axes property for a chart
Invert Axes property for a chart

An easier way to turn a bar chart horizontal is to select the chart on the canvas and then click the Horizontal Bars option from the toolbar (or the right-click menu for the chart). This is identical to setting the Invert Axes property to True.

Click Horizontal Bars to invert axes
Click Horizontal Bars to invert axes

You can change the chart back to normal by clicking Vertical Bars from the toolbar (or the right-click menu).

5.2. Align axes

To visually align multiple charts, use the Align Axes option in the toolbar and select the charts you want to align. 

Click Align Axes in the toolbar
Click Align Axes in the toolbar

If the charts are positioned vertically relative to each other, only the horizontal axes will be adjusted.

The horizontal axes will be adjusted
The horizontal axes will be adjusted

Conversely, if the charts are positioned horizontally relative to each other, only the vertical axes will be adjusted.

The vertical axes will be adjusted
The vertical axes will be adjusted

5.3. Scale type

Each chart axis has a scale which you can set to one of the following types via the Scale Type property:

  • Category: Designed for people, places, things or events. Displays values of any type of data, one after the other in sequence.
  • Date/Time: Designed for date and time values. Data can be plotted along continuous linear time, even if data is missing.
  • Numeric: Designed for numeric data. Displays any type of numeric values.
  • Logarithmic: Designed for positive (above zero) numeric data. 

Scale Type property for a chart axis
Scale Type property for a chart axis

If the first or only hierarchy on the bottom (ROWS) axis is date/time, then the chart will set the scale type to Date/Time by default.

A date/time scale does not allow members to be expanded. If you want to have expandable date members on the bottom axis, change the scale type to Category instead.

There's an easy way to switch the scale type between Date/Time and Category. Just right-click (or long-tap) on the chart and select Category Axis, for example (or Date/Time Axis to switch back). This option is also available from the toolbar for a selected chart.

Click Category Axis to switch to category scale type
Click Category Axis to switch to category scale type

Bottom axis using category scale type now shows expandable members
Bottom axis using category scale type now shows expandable members

Tip
To reverse the order of values on a category scale, set the Reversed property of the axis.

When using the same scale type on multiple axes (either in the same chart or different charts), you can set the axes to have the same range. Select the option Share the scale with another chart or axis, and select the axis that should have the same range.

Select the option Share the scale with another chart or axis
Select the option Share the scale with another chart or axis

The two charts now share the same range
The two charts now share the same range

5.4. Titles

Each axis can show a title that is automatically centered along the axis. A typical usage is displaying the name of the quantity or measure along the left axis (or y-axis).

To set the title for an axis, edit the properties of the axis and go to the Text properties section.

Under AXIS TITLE, use the Title property to enter the text for the title.

Then click Title Style to change how the title is displayed. For example, set the Location property to Along, and the Rotation of the axis title to Clockwise.

A chart with a title for the left axis
A chart with a title for the left axis

5.5. Labels

To change the formatting or appearance of the labels for axis values, edit the properties of the axis (e.g., the bottom axis) and go to the Text section.

Use the Show Labels property to show or hide the axis labels. When displaying a chart within a scorecard, it may be useful to hide the labels to create a more compact chart.

Under Label Formatting, use the Format property to enter a date format string, for example, which will be applied to each label.

Formatting axis labels
Formatting axis labels

Click Label Style to change the appearance of the labels, such as the font size or color.

Set the Auto Fit property to true in order to arrange as many labels on the axis as possible without overlap. Use the Auto Fit Methods properties to customize the auto fit behavior.

Label Style properties
Label Style properties

If the axis is categorical and the axis labels can be expanded, use the Expander Color property to change the color of the expander buttons. By default, they take on the same color as the text.

Expander Color property
Expander Color property

5.6. Tick marks

By default, tick marks are not shown on the axes of a chart. To display them, edit the properties of a chart axis and go to the Ticks section.

Set the Show Tick Marks property to true to display the major (or minor) tick marks.

A chart with major and minor tick marks on the left axis
A chart with major and minor tick marks on the left axis

Click Tick Mark Style to change the appearance of the major (or minor) tick marks.

5.7. Grid lines

To display grid lines corresponding to the left axis, edit the properties of the chart axis and go to the Grid section.

Set the Show Grid Lines property to true to display the major (or minor) grid lines for the left axis.

Displaying minor grid lines on a chart
Displaying minor grid lines on a chart

Click Grid Line Style to change the appearance of the major (or minor) grid lines.

6. Series properties

Charts are automatically configured with data series as you drag and drop measures and hierarchies from the Explore window.

Go to the Main \ CHART properties section to see the list of series for a chart.

Click on a chart series (Series 1) to edit its properties
Click on a chart series (Series 1) to edit its properties

Tip
Click once on a chart in the designer to select it and see its properties. Click a second time on a data point to select the corresponding series and go directly to its properties in the Properties window.

6.1. Chart type for a series

Each series has a corresponding Chart Type property which you can set from the Main \ COMMON properties section for the series.

Chart Type property for a series
Chart Type property for a series

6.2. Data points

To change the color of data points, edit the properties of the series and go to the Look section. Use the Fill property under DATA POINTS.

Changing the color of data points for a series
Changing the color of data points for a series

Additional settings to control the appearance of data points for series may be available, depending on the chart type.

When using a Bubble chart type, you can change the size of the bubbles in the Layout section. Use the properties Bubble Minimum Width and Bubble Maximum Width.

Changing the size of data points for a series
Changing the size of data points for a series

You can apply additional formatting by setting up states and using State Styles. For example, to distinguish between positive and negative bubbles.

6.3. Markers

Markers are symbols displayed at the location of the Y-value over the data points of any chart type. They make locating this value easier on a chart, and are especially useful for line and area charts to pinpoint the data values along the line or area shape.

To display and customize the markers for a series, edit the properties of the series, click Look, and then scroll down to the MARKERS section. 

Set the Show Markers property to true to display the markers (e.g., for a line series).

Adjust the size of each marker with the Marker Width and Marker Height properties.

Choose a shape for the markers using the Marker Shape property.

Marker properties for a series
Marker properties for a series

6.4. Series label

If your chart is not connected to a legend, you'll see a label on the chart corresponding to each series. This default behavior helps you to identify multiple series appearing on a chart.

For example, if you have a measure named Target Sales, you'll see a corresponding label with the text Target Sales attached to one of the data points.

To customize a series label (including its text), edit the properties of the series, click Text, and then click Series Label.

Customizing a series label
Customizing a series label

6.5. Data point labels

You can display a label with each data point of a series in order to show the corresponding measure (or Y-axis) value.

First, open the Data Binding Panel for the chart and edit the measure. In the Configure Metric Set Element dialog, enter a numeric format string and a symbol for the measure values (such as a dollar sign).

Configure Metric Set Element dialog for the Sales measure
Configure Metric Set Element dialog for the Sales measure

Edit the properties of the series and go to the Text section.

Click the Labels button to add a new Data Label Settings item. Click this item to edit its properties.

Add Data Label Settings for data points
Add Data Label Settings for data points

In the Data Label Settings, set the Placement property to Inside so that the data point labels will be displayed within the bars of the chart.

Set the Text property to [Sales], which is a placeholder for showing the Sales measure value.

A chart showing data point labels inside the bars
A chart showing data point labels inside the bars

6.6. Tooltip text

To customize the tooltip that appears when you hover over a data point, edit the properties of the corresponding series and go to the Text section.

Update the Tooltip Text property as needed. You can insert regular text as well as placeholders (keywords) such as the name of a measure or hierarchy enclosed in square brackets. See Formatting Text for more details.

Tooltip Text property for a series
Tooltip Text property for a series

7. See also

Dundas Data Visualization, Inc.
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Toronto, ON, Canada
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