Tag: Format String

Once again I’ll recreate here a use case I found at work because I think it’s cool and with some gotcha’s that can be fixed.

The use case itself is broad enough. We are measuring the duration of an event (working hours, machine runs, etc) and we want to visualize it. Since we want to compare things, we need to graph a number, however, as humans, we might like to see 4h 30min instead of 270 min. Searching around in google you will find several approaches for transforming a number of minutes or seconds into higher units of time. And that’s a great starting point. For example here’s a great post by Reza Rad. Here we’ll just imagine we have minutes and we want hours and minutes.

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Ok, I have maybe gone a bit overboard with the title, but I think it has some advantages over other hacks out there to establish the column widths of matrix, so here I am to explain how I came up with it and how to use it.

The first hack I saw was from Ben Ferris (aka The Power BI Guy) which added a dummy measure with a number of 0 to make the width (having automatic width enabled) and then it would disable automatic widths and remove the measure. Nice. But of course, if new columns appear you’ll  need to set the thing again. Something similar happens with the approach of Bas, who skips the dummy measure thing and instead just plays with the format string to show the evenly wide number. His approach is cooler because you skip the measure thing, but you have the same weak points.

However, Bas’s video got me thinking on the topic and the role of format strings…

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This may seem trivial, but it did not pop up in my head at first, so might be useful to somebody else.

In sales reports, there are lots of numbers. And if it’s a large company these numbers may be very large. So depending on the visual, the full number may be a bit too much, and having just thousands or millions is more than enough.

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