Creating Map Small Multiples In Power BI With The Azure Maps API

Since my post last week on using the Google Image Charts API to create sparklines and small multiples in Power BI has proved very popular, I thought I would do a follow-up showing how to use the Azure Maps API to create map small multiples. Here’s an example of what’s possible, a table from a sample report I built that displays crimes committed in London (sourced from here) in June 2018 with one row for each crime and a map column displaying the location of the crime:


You can find out how to sign up for an Azure Maps account here; it isn’t free to use but you do get 250,000 free map renders per month (which should be more than enough for Power BI use) and any use over that is extremely cheap. Full details on pricing can be found here.

Here’s what the source data in my dataset looks like:


The only important column is the Center column, which contains the longitude of the crime location followed by a comma followed by the latitude of the crime location in a single text value.

With the data in this format you can call the Get Map Image API relatively easily in DAX using a measure something like this:

Map = 
var BaseURL = 
var SubscriptionKey = 
    "insert your key here"
var ApiVersion = 
var Layer = 
var Center = 
    "&center=" & SELECTEDVALUE('London Crime'[Center])
var ZoomLevel = 
var HeightWidth = 
        HASONEVALUE('London Crime'[Center]),
        BaseURL & SubscriptionKey & ApiVersion &
        Layer & Center & ZoomLevel & HeightWidth

You’ll need to paste your Azure Maps API key in on the line highlighted above and set the Data Category for the measure to Image URL. The maximum possible height of an image in a table or matrix in Power BI is, as far as I can see, 150 pixels so that’s why the code above requests an image that is 150×150. You may want to experiment with different zoom levels and layer types to see what looks best on your report.

You can view the sample report here and download a copy of the report (without my API key in) here.

Charticulator And Power BI Custom Visuals

I’ve just come across an interesting new project from Microsoft Research called Charticulator.  It’s described as a tool for the “Interactive Construction of Bespoke Chart Layouts”, and you can use it for creating some very nice data visualisations like this:

Global Trade of Natural Resources in 2016

So I had a play with it, was quite impressed, and then I watched the video on the home page and noticed that towards the end (watch from 3:55 onwards) there’s a demo of how the charts you create in it can be exported as Power BI custom visuals! No code required!

After that I was a lot more than quite impressed – this looks really useful. Unfortunately the feature is not released yet, although according to one of the creators it will be coming soon.


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