Time-Series Slicers In Power BI

In finance, we often need to look at a time-series over a large time-period, say a few years, then focus in on a much smaller range. Of course we can do this in Power BI desktop by putting the date (or month, quarter or year) in the filters area.

However, there are three custom visuals that we can use for convenient on canvas filters. The timeline, from Microsoft, shows a bar with a left stop (earliest date) and a right stop (latest date). The bar is divided into periods. There is a small slider that allows us to switch these periods between years, quarters, months, weeks and days. This works pretty well. I would like to see a few improvements however, to be able to disable certain periods. For example, when looking at a 5 year range, years and quarters are appropriate but, anything less than that is not a helpful.

The time brush, also from Microsoft and in experimental state, is even more convenient. It has a drag and drop feel; simply mouse-down at the start of the range and mouse-up at the end. The range on the slider is shaded. The time brush does have a couple of gremlins – for example, it shows a bar chart supposedly of the frequency of the observations but in that case I would expect a uniform distribution over time with my test data and it is clearly not showing that.

The advanced time slicer, from Cambridge Technology Partners, is an all-in-one visual, with a lower smaller bar chart showing the whole time range. It has drag selection like the time brush above and the larger chart above shows the selected period. Again there are some suggestions this is not ready for prime-time. The larger chart seems only to show the positive values and it calls itself the BrushChart in the visuals palette.

All three slider are shown in the example below. I will update this blog as they improve – all will become really useful slicers.