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I see a lot of talk on Twitter and other outlets about the use of "small multiples" as a great way to communicate information across different subsets of data; yes, Jeff Weir (d), that means you. I thought I'd write a quick article on the concept to draw your attention to the small multiples (in case you don't already know) and to show you what a great job Zebra BI does in delivering this concept through their custom images. There are actually 2 custom Zebra BI images. The one used next is Zebra BI Charts, but there is another one called Zebra BI Tables. These images do much more than small multiples, but it will take another day. The 2 images are similar but different; you can read more in Microsoft Appsource.

Zebra BI Custom Visuals

I have known Andrej Lapajne, owner and CEO of Zebra BI for many years. Your company has been around long before Power BI was a product. Previous versions were built for Microsoft Excel, so Zebra BI has literally years and years of experience visualizing data in a compelling way that users want to see. All of this learning and experience is available to you now through the 2 custom Power BI visuals I mentioned earlier, and one of the cool things to do on the chart is render small multiples.

Publish the COVID performance of top companies

Andrej shared a copy of a report he produced that uses the concept of small multiples to show the relative performance of the stocks of major companies since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. I took the work Andrej did and edited the report to work on the Australian Stock Exchange. Here's that report hosted live on PowerBI.com. You can maximize the report by clicking the expand button in the lower right corner. Note that there are actually 2 pages.

The principle of small multiples

Below is an image of the live report. You can see a selection of small multiples in a 5 wide by 4 high grid, for a total of 20 variations based on different companies. One of the characteristics of small multiples is that they are locked to have the same scale, although there are many (multiple) charts. This standardized axis means that you can look at the shape and size of any of the multiples and visually compare the difference to any other graph in the set. This is really very powerful.

Like at the time of this article, Microsoft doesn't have a standard image that supports small multiples, but frankly, the Zebra BI image does an excellent job anyway. This is a premium visual that comes at a cost, but you can get a free version to get started and assess the benefit, then purchase a license if you see value to the organization.

More information

You can learn more about Zebra BI custom visuals from the links provided in the interactive report above. Just open the report and navigate to the second page to see the links and get more information.

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