Jason Bonello

Jason's blog

ArcGIS Maps for Power BI – Editing and available features

This blog post builds up on the previous post that covered an introduction to ArcGIS Maps for Power BI – which can be re-accessed through the following link: https://bit.ly/2PnIgR3

We will start by looking at the editing features that are available within ArcGIS Maps for Power BI.

Jack Dangermond said, “the application of GIS is limited only by the imagination of those who use it.” So, let’s try to get a glimpse of the range of features, with the hope of being inspired and applying them in an imaginative way Smile

Editing an ArcGIS map in PowerBI

Clicking on the Edit of the visualization map would allow you to change various map contents through different tabs and tools – as shown below:


Following is some information on each of the tools:

  • Basemap – This lets you choose from four different basic basemaps (unless you are a Plus subscriber or have an ArcGIS account which then gives you access to more options of basemaps). Through such changes, one can ensure that the focus will remain on the data importance rather than caused visual distractions within the map. If different basemaps use different projections, there might be the need to save, close and re-open (or change between report pages) for the map features to reflect the new projection. In such cases, the Attention icon will probably show stating that the basemap will be updated next time visual loads.        


  • Location Type – This will allow the locations to either show as points or boundaries as can be seen below. It can be specified whether the data pertains to one country or many countries. For the boundaries the location type could be changed from a dropdown list including countries, districts, postcode areas, region etc. (available list changes depending on the country selected). The method to be used in matching locations could vary between:
    • Closest match—This can be used when the exact spelling cannot be guaranteed (with errors like Frence), if there might be a mismatch with the spelling in Esri's data services, or if an exact match search will not add all your data to the map (even if this might not be the best solution to data accuracy). This might obviously lead to inaccuracy and wrong assumptions.
    • Exact match—This is the most accurate method and is to be used when boundaries are defined by codes or abbreviations, or when one is sure that the dataset spelling is correct and matches Esri's data services.

      The Location Type might be a good place to start with if a “Failed to locate [x] features error” is encountered as follows:

      This might be a result of incorrect settings in the location type, like adding a list of states in Brazil without setting the Locations are in one country setting, choosing Brazil and changing Location Type to States. The error might also be a result of an improper match between a value in the dataset and Esri’s data services (or a spelling mistake).

  • Map themes – This allows a change in the style for the map and once can choose from location only, heatmaps or clustering (the last two are only available for point layers, that is when you select Points in the Location Type). Through the clustering option, one could group individual location points into larger circular clusters that fall within a cluster radius – giving a high level view and then the ability to drill down into each region. If heatmaps are chosen any values in the Size or Color will be ignored and the tooltips will not be available.
    If numerical data exists in the Size and/ or Color field wells, there will be a further 3 map themes available – being Size (showing bubbles with different sizes based on the measure’s value), Color and Size & Color:

  • Symbol style – This provides the option to do changes in appearance that are immediately reflected in the map including symbol shape and size, colours (and defining the colour ramp), transparency level and classification types. The available options in the Symbol Style screen depends on the map theme selected and the nature of the data being analyzed. For example for heat maps formatting options like Transparency and Area of Influence will be available.

    Classification types will provide different options to classify the data and defines the way ArcGIS is going to create the clusters from your data, namely:
    • Natural Breaks (sometimes referred to as Jenks) – The fluctuated data values are clustered in naturally occurring data categories. Class breaks take place where a gap between clusters exist. This method is suitable for unevenly distributed data. For instance, streets are clustered based on their length (short vs long), or cities based on their size (small vs large).
    • Equal Intervals – Value ranges are set equally in size in every category. The entire range of data values (max - min) is divided equally into the number of categories that have been chosen. One will specify the number of classes, and ArcGIS Maps for Power BI will automatically determine how to divide the data.
    • Quantile – Classification of data is done within certain number of categories having equal number of units in every category.This might be suitable for evenly distributed data.
    • Standard Deviation – Shows how much a feature’s attribute value varies from the mean – whether above or below mean. This might be a good way of pointing out the extremes.
    • Manual Breaks – Enables one to define own classes, class breaks and ranges.

As one can see, such features and functions not only offer different options to the creator to give context to the geographic data visualization but will also help the end-user in understanding and adapting to the data better and enhance comparison. I hope the information in this post was useful in some way or another. In the next blog, we will continue building further on this. Stay mapped!

What is ArcGIS Maps for Power BI – and why you want to use this

In this and other following blog posts over the coming weeks, I’ll be compiling some information gathered from some research done on a capability in Power BI which has increased in popularity and usage: ArcGIS Maps.

As Jimmy Buffett said “Without geography you're nowhere” – so hopefully this capability will help us get to somewhere

So… what is ArcGIS?

In a nutshell, ArcGIS is a software-as-a-service platform that allows the creation, discovering, management, sharing, analysis and visualization of location-based and geographic data through maps, applications and reports. Esri (Environmental System Research Institute), which developed, hosts and administers ArcGIS, has partnered with Power BI and as of 2016 ArcGIS Maps for Power BI has been included and is now a built-in feature in Power BI to provide enhanced mapping capabilities. GIS (Geographical Information Systems) analysis is beneficial to different domains or industries including, but not limited to business, urban planning, crime mapping, resource optimization, transport planning/ management (public & private), education, assessment of natural disasters/ hazards, healthcare etc.

What is possible with ArcGIS?

The following is just a glimpse of some simple map-related visuals that may be acquired through ArcGIS Maps for Power BI.


How does ArcGIS differ from the previous map visualizations?

ArcGIS has various features and capabilities, which are to be summarized and explained further in the upcoming blogs. Prior to the ArcGIS Maps for Power BI introduction, Power BI had limited mapping capabilities through its own map function, especially when compared to other suppliers and platforms such as Tableau. Apart from the enhanced visual appearance (such as changes in themes, ability to add layers of demographic data etc.), this tool allows comparability between location-based data and features mainly through the selection methods of points on the map (the different selection methods also to be explained further). It helps provide context to geographic data and provide accurate spatial analysis. It’s worth keeping in mind that ArcGIS is intended to display and interact with data that is managed by Power BI. Hence, it’s not intended to provide data enrichment in the form of adding data from ArcGIS Maps for Power BI itself to your own business data.

You excited? Let’s do this…

Enabling ArcGIS in Power BI service

If you’re using Power BI through app.powerbi.com, you might need to enable ArcGIS Maps for Power BI. This can be done by clicking on the cog icon in the top right section of the menu bar and open Settings. Under the General tab, select ArcGIS Maps for Power BI checkbox.


Power BI will have to be restarted after that, and the ArcGIS Maps for Power BI icon will then be available in the Visualizations pane when opening a report in Editing view.

When using Power BI Desktop, ArcGIS Maps is normally enabled by default, however it has an option which could still control the enabling and disabling of this capability, under the Security tab in Options & Settings > Options, as follows:


ArcGIS Maps is unavailable in Power BI Embedded edition and Power BI service embedding (PowerBI.com).

Creating an ArcGIS map in PowerBI

To add a map to the report, use the ArcGIS Map for Power BI Visualization from the visualization pane – icon shown below:


This will add a new ArcGIS Maps for Power BI visualization on the report page.


The dataset in the Fields pane can then be used to populate the field wells and add data to the report.

The following are the location field wells that can be used:

  • Location – Values dragged within this field well should be location-based like single field address, postcode or country name to display the features on the map.
  • Latitude – Values dragged here will define part of a map coordinate (north to south position). If this is used, the corresponding longitude field must also be used. In the modelling tab, a data category with the same name also exists to transform the column in the data set.
  • clip_image017
  • Longitude – Values dragged here will define part of a map coordinate (east to west position). If this is used the corresponding latitude field must also be used. The data category Longitude also exists.

The same data categorization can also be applied on the City, Country, Province/State and other data to be considered location based. When done, a globe icon will show next to fields’ name to show that the field is marked by Power BI as containing geographic information – as follows:


For accurate plotting of data on the map, latitude and longitude values are suggested to be used if these values are available. If you fill all of the Location, Latitude and Longitude field wells, only the Latitude and Longitude will be considered by ArcGIS Maps for Power BI to map data and the Location field will be ignored. The country will still however be considered for the information that is to be shown when hovering over the mapped point - as per below:


In addition to these, the Size, Color, Time and Tooltips can be used as non-location fields that will affect how features look on the map. As best practice it is suggested to first add the location-based data before adding these to render the points on the map.

  • Size – Numerical values could be added to this field well to show map features based on size. For instance, when analyzing earthquake data, dragging the magnitude value here will show the extent of the scale. Similarly, by dragging the population field, the location symbols on the map will be automatically rendered in proportional sizes based on the population value.
  • Color – This field well could be used for both numerical and categorical values to differentiate the map features according to the colour ramp. For instance, a light-to-dark colour ramp will help identifying low-to-high numerical data values like sold quantity, whilst different colours could be used for categorical data like brand preference. Size and Color could be used together both for different or same attributes in the same map.
  • Time – This field well could be used to animate the features on the map for temporal data fields according to date, time or date and time. It helps understand how measure values occurred through the time, and will prompt the time slider.
  • Tooltips – As for other visualizations, this can be used to provide definitions of information that appears in tooltips, and multiple fields can be used here.

It seems quite straight forward, doesn’t it? Well, in the next blog post we will be going deeper into how to edit the ArcGIS map and how to utilize some of the beneficial functions this tool offers!