Which date format styles should we use if we are building a report that is being consumed internationally?
Remember, 01/12/2021 is December 1st or January 12th depending in which part of the world it is being read.
The decision may be taken from our hands if there is a company policy in place. If the company is based in the USA, for example, they may choose to use US formatted date fields as a standard for reporting across the entire business, however, if the field needs to be truly dynamic depending on the consumers location, the answer lies in this tool tip:
There are 2 formats in the selection that are prefixed with an asterisk:
There are 2 variables that the Power BI Service checks when loading reports in the service.
First it will check the language setting of the user account in the service. This is set under ‘Settings >> General >> Language’. There is a dropdown option that acts as both a language and regional setting, this drives how dates are formatted when dynamic date formats are used.
If this is set to ‘Default (browser language)’ the second variable, the browser’s default language setting, will take effect.
In Edge this is set under ‘Settings >> Language’, when multiple languages are set, the topmost one is considered the default.
In Chrome it is set under ‘Settings >> Advanced >> Language’, this uses the same system as Edge where the topmost language is used as default.
Here is an example of a table loaded in a browser using both English UK and English US:
This example shows that not only does the format of the date itself change (day and month have switched) but there are also visual connotations to account for. The US format uses a 12-hour clock by default and the addition of the AM/PM suffix changes the column width and drastically alters the readability of the table and potentially the entire report. It is these occurrences we need to be aware of when developing reports for international consumption.
This issue can easily be avoided by using the ‘Auto-size column width’ setting under ‘Column Headers’ on the formatting tab of the visual, or by allowing for the growth when setting manual column widths. (For a great guide on manually setting equal column widths, please read this helpful post by my colleague, Nick Edwards)
Unfortunately, this post comes with a caveat, at the time of writing it would seem there is a bug in Power BI. Remember this from earlier?
As you can see below, both fields use the UK format of DD/MM/YYYY when the browser language is set to English UK.
However, when the browser settings are changed to English US, only the *‘General Date’ format has changed, the *’DD/MM/YYYY’ format is still showing in the UK format even though there is an asterisk next to it in the selection list.
Hopefully once this issue is addressed, the use of regionally dynamic date formats will be available for both long and short formats.
A drill through in Power BI allows the reader to see secondary data related to the original page with the context of a specific data point applied, for example, drilling through on sales data can display the demographic information of the relevant customers for those sales.
One limitation of the drill through functionality is that it only allows users to drill through on a single data point. If more than one is selected, the drill through function will be disabled. Using the above example, this means that a reader can drill through to the demographic of the sales of one product at a time, but not a combination of two or three.
You can see this when using a drill through button, the button only works when one data point is selected.
If you select multiple points the button is greyed out and if you hover over the it, you get the following tool tip appear:
“To drill through to [page name], select a single data point from [page name]“
Curiously, since native drill throughs on card visualisations were introduced back in September 2020, Power BI considers a card to be a single data point, regardless of the number of filters applied to it.
If you drill through on the card with multiple data points selected, the drill through page will have all of the relevant filters applied.
Currently there is no method of getting the button to function with multiple data points selected, even though the above behaviour suggests there is scope to do so. At the time of writing, Microsoft have confirmed that this behaviour is intended functionality for the drill through button.
So to conclude, if you need to allow drill throughs for a multi-select scenario, currently your only option at the moment is to replace Buttons for Cards and perhaps include a tip for the reader to know its there, hopefully this may change in the future.