Adding additional context to a visual using tooltips

With some visuals, adding a little extra information can help to improve the context surrounding the data. This can be done in several ways including cross-filtering the other visuals on the page, drill throughs to other report pages and adding columns or measures to the tooltip. These are all quite standard approaches but creating tooltip pages to use can take the report to the next level and enable users to answer the most common follow-up questions upon seeing data in a visual.

The image below shows the standard tooltip. Normally this will include details from the measures and fields already used on a chart, but you can add other relevant information too. In this instance, I wanted to add the number of days to the tooltip alongside the percentage value. To do this, I just tracked my number of days measure to the tooltip part of the visualisation panel in PowerBI desktop.

The black box is a standard tooltip. I have added the No. of days field to the tooltip to give a bit more context to the percentages.

To take it to the next level, you need to create new pages in your report and change the page type to tooltip (it’s also recommended to change the page size to tooltip and then change the view to actual size). Each tooltip you create, is actually a report page that you then add to a visual. The filters applied on the visual are passed to the tooltip ensuring the context is maintained.

In the example below, I have created a tooltip for the lateness vs. attendance scatter chart (see this post to see how I made it). The tooltip enables the user to hover over a particular pupil and quickly identify any patterns in their absence or lateness. Where patterns emerge a conversation from that pupil can become much more specific. For the pupil shown below, the conversation is now not just about general lateness and absence issues, it is about attendance issues on Fridays and lateness on Mondays and Tuesdays, especially.

Utilising the tooltip functionality to assess whether there are any patterns in relation to lateness or attendance issues.

I’ve used the tooltip functionality on our assessment tracking pages as well. The line graph below shows assessment % scores over time. When you however over a point the tooltip provides the details about the assessment that took place on a particular day.

In this instance, the tooltip provides details of the assessment that took place on a particular day, in this case for a particular student.

In the assessment vs. CAT4 score visual below, the tooltip shows the details of the assessments that are included in determining the overall average percentage that a pupil has achieved.

A list of assessments that are included in the average on the assessment vs. CAT4 score scatter chart.

Finally, a visual on the assessment vs. attainment track visual shows the trend of both these values providing extra context for the end-user.

Here the tooltip is being used with an OKViz card custom visual to show basic info about the trend over time for the relevant data.

When using a tooltip on a visual, it is important to ask what extra information would be useful to the person viewing the data. It’s always possible to use drill throughs to get to pages that contain more information about the item being analysed, however, where possible I think the experience is better if as much data can be provided in a clutter free and simple manner on a single page. The tricky bit is determining what are the most important views of the data and what extra context can be provided by a tooltip that will make life easier for the end-user.

To learn more about how to create tooltips, I recommend watching this Guy In A Cube video on the topic.

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