Saturday, January 06, 2024

Lesson 37 - Shape Map in Power BI Desktop

Shape map is a new visual added to Power BI which is similar like a map, Shape map doesn’t show geographical data points instead compare regions based on color. Main purpose of shape map is comparing by coloring regions in different colors.

How to Proceed?

Step 1

Launch power BI desktop app and open the new report page and import the data required. 

Refer Lesson 7 - Power BI Datasets to build visuals 

Step 2

In “visualizations” pane click on “Shape Map” which is highlighted in the given figure. 

Step 3  

Since in our Olympics data we don’t have state information’s for regions, for showing demo to Shape Map visual I have separately uploaded “Australian state population data"  into power BI

Drag the data fields into “Field Section” that you want to analyze.  

Location: Specifies information that defines geographic locations that includes city names,
country/region names, Postal codes to be displayed on the map – State.

Legend: Provides an explanation about the category used on the map. – State

Color Saturation: Measure value – Sum of Population 

Tooltips: add more information to the visual

Shape Map only available in Power BI desktop and not available in Power BI service. To enable shape map, click settings-> Options-> Preview features then enable Shape map visual textbox

Step 4

Customizing the appearance
You can customize the appearance of the Map visual. Click anywhere on the visual and set the properties in the Format section.

"Map Settings" options allows you to customize and configure various aspects of map visuals within your reports. 

We can change the map type, here I choosed Australia map since we have Australia states population data.
We can choose the map projection based on specific visualization needs

  • Equirectangular
  • Mercator
  • Orthographic
Equirectangular: cylindrical projection that converts the globe into a grid with each rectangular cell having the same size, shape, and area.

Mercator: cylindrical projection with the equator depicted as the line of tangency. Polar areas are more distorted than Equirectangular projections.

Orthographic: a projection from an infinite point, as if from deep space. It gives the illusion of a three-dimensional globe

Source: Microsoft learn

Click on Map view key, to see the values used to build the shape map.

Legends helps in defining the subcategories of data. If we add legend, color saturation of region won’t be visible.

We can also customize the color of the legend values

Without legend, shape map with Australian state population will look like below. Shape map with color saturation, here higher the state population darker the color.

Step 5 Save the visual

Finally, your Shape Map is ready. Click save button to save the visual.

When to use Shape Map visual?

Shape Map in Power BI is particularly useful when you have geographical data and you want to represent specific regions for deeper analysis. It allows you to visualize data in the context of geographical regions, making it easier to identify patterns, trends, and variations across different areas. The ability to define and use custom shapes for regions adds flexibility, custom geographical boundaries.

  • Maps are visually appealing and can make data presentations more interesting and informative.
  • Shape map represent geographical data in spatial context which helps in understanding better.
  • Can use custom maps for custom geographical boundaries.
  • Color coded regions makes it easier to identify variations and trends.

  • Map visuals are less effective when dealing with complex or dense datasets.
  • Effectiveness of shape map depends on quality of data
  • Not suitable for all data types
  • Limited geographic map coverage yet to use custom maps.


Shape Map in Power BI is a powerful tool for geographical data visualization, users should consider these pros and cons to determine whether it aligns with their specific data analysis needs and requirements. It's important to evaluate the suitability of Shape Map based on the data and for further analysis.

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